Winter is a quiet time for reflection; it allows us to see the things that need to be fixed.a No, I am not referring to that cabinet door in the kitchen or the leaky faucet in the bathroom. According to a recent survey, the average family spends only 34 minutes together on weekdays. If you are surprised to find your own family fits into this statistic, there is no need to panic. Like fresh fallen snow, winter gives us a chance at new beginnings. Take advantage of winter’s slower pace to reconnect with each other. If inspiration is needed, read on for 12 ideas:
1. Volunteer together. Working together for a cause makes a family closer. Whether you have been touched by a foundation’s work or just want to make a difference, it is a nice way to spend time together as a family.
2. Engage in creativity together. Gather around the kitchen table and work on coloring pages. Build houses out of Legos or take an art class together! Expressing yourself through art not only helps to relieve stress, but it’s a fun activity that you can do over and over.
3. Go outside. Find time to connect with the family outdoors. A Chinook is the perfect time for your family to build a snowman or a snow family in the back yard or make colorful ice décor around the outside of your home with food dyes. Taking in the fresh air will clear your mind of everyday distractions and make room for new memories.
4. Have several cooks in the kitchen. Think back to past holidays when everyone worked together to prepare the holiday meal you all enjoyed. Cooking dinner together helps the picky eaters to see what ingredients go into the meal and gives the normal cook a few extra helping hands.
5. Unplug after 6pm. Work emails, social media, and random texts interrupt family time unnecessarily. With the exception of online homework or a FaceTime or Skype call with grandma, there is no reason that a family has to spend the evening staring into their phones. Make it a habit to unplug before dinner and make your only communication face-to-face.
6. Practice random acts of kindness. Doing a kindness to someone, especially someone not expecting it, will make both the giver and the receiver feel good. Help the people in your house by doing a chore without being asked, handing over the TV remote to someone else, or giving up the best seat in the car.
7. Date nights. While this may not sound like a family event, it is equally important for families to have one-on-one time with each of its members. This is true for the adults in the family as well as ‘Mom/Dad and Me’ type dates with each child. Be sure to double the family fun by planning a special evening at home for those staying behind.
8. Slow down. There is something to be said about the families of yesteryear who sat around the radio and listened to a story together. They had to use their own imaginations to visualize the characters. Try to recreate that same impact by putting a puzzle together while you listen to an audiobook.
9. Spark conversation at dinner. Go beyond, “How was your day?” Ask and answer thought-provoking questions like, “What features do you think will be on cars in 10 years?” You can also play a game asking everyone how well they know each other. For example, ask your family if they know the name of [Joey’s] tutor or what [dad’s] job title is.
10. ‘You plan it’night. Once a week, one person will plan the way the family will spend the night together. They will choose the menu and an activity (all within a set budget, of course). Even elementary-aged students can make a shopping list from a recipe and look online for movie times.
11. Set a goal and work on it together. Winter resolutions often include changing a bad habit. Let everyone set their goal - eat more fruits and veggies, go to the gym three times a week, bring a math grade up - and once a week at dinner, check in to see how everyone is doing. Share the ups and downs of your progress and lean on your family for support or suggestions.
12. Visit with extended family.Continue to grow the family ties long after the holidays are over. Plan outings with cousins, a couple’s dinner with aunts and uncles, or plan a regular game night with siblings. If you live far apart from one another, try a Friday night FaceTime or play video games together over Wi-Fi connection.
Pam is a freelance writer and mother of three busy teenagers. Their family likes to reconnect over home-cooked meals and board games. Follow her on PamsPartyPrintables on Etsy, etsy.com/shop/PamsPartyPrintables.
Calgary’s Child Magazine © 2017 Calgary’s Child