Life has been anything but normal these past couple of years. After having collectively gone through global restrictions, virtual gatherings, and barely any in-person family get togethers, the pandemic taught us how to be intentional about our approach towards such experiences and find joy, warmth and happiness however we can. The family memories we built during this time were what brought closer to our kinfolk.
Strong families are built on love, understanding and consideration but these virtues don’t just come along – they have to be created. The hustle and bustle of work, childcare, multi-tasking events, juggling priorities while also trying to make meaningful time for the family can leave most parents feelings burnt out. But making beautiful memories together is one of the best ways to link hearts with your family members.
Memories are truly powerful. They happen regardless of what we do. And while negative experiences have a particularly lasting impact on most people, parents have the responsibility of offsetting these memories with positive ones. Think back to your own childhood, what memories prevail more than others, are they happy, hopeful or sad memories? The ones (hopefully positive) that outweigh all else are truly defining memories that most likely bond you with your family or a particular member and define who you are today.
To help your child to be able to look back and recall special moments that fill their heart with joy and happiness, as a parent, you need to actively create these special moments. Below, you’ll find some mindful ideas to connect deeply with your family.
1. Have a family night once a week
If you aren’t doing this already, as part of the ‘new normal’, include a specific day every week dedicated to spending family time together. It’s very easy to get lost in our personal routines and obligations and neglect the tiny moments we get to spend with our loved ones. If you consciously try to make time for your family, it’ll inculcate a culture of togetherness and consideration in your children as well. While eating dinner together each night should be encouraged, including more bonding activities can help you connect with your family members better.
A few fun things you can do during family time are:
- Hosting a family movie night: Let one member pick out the movie each week.
- Family nature walks: Turn it into an evening picnic to enjoy supper with the family.
- Family game night: Play games like charades, monopoly, taboo, scrabble, bingo, etc. to keep the kids engaged.
- Practice mindfulness meditation with your children to inculcate a restful sleep cycle for all.
- Family creativity night: Encourage your kids as well as other family members to express their creativity any way they like; through art, poetry, film, cooking, anything.
- Host a themed family night: Every week, have a different theme for the night including special snacks, games, activities, even dress codes if you wish to be fancy.
- Host a family book club twice a month to introduce your children to the habit of reading.
2. Notice and highlight positive attributes
Parents put a lot of focus on correcting, reprimanding and disciplining their children, so much so that kids often grow up remembering the failures they’ve experienced in the past more than their achievements. To improve your child’s emotional health, over-balance the criticizing comments with positive remarks to build their self-esteem and confidence. Notice when they’ve applied themselves to the best of their abilities and highlight what they did right. Show interest in what they’re interested in to cultivate a deeper bond. Creating a positive atmosphere in the family nurtures your child’s resilience and encourages them to believe in the positive forces in the world.
These positive affirmations can help you get into the right mindset.
3. Schedule one-on-one time with each child
Each child is extremely unique. Taking the time out to learn your child’s personal interests will not only give you the opportunity to learn about them but also learn from them. Giving your child individual attention is essential to help you develop a healthy and nurturing relationship with them. You’ll connect with them on a deeper level as compared to a group setting. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a long time. Having 10 minutes of quality one-on-one time is better than spending 5 hours together scrolling on separate electronic devices. This can be a wonderful time for you to teach your kid the beauty of mindfulness and staying present in the current moment. Put your phone away and give your child your undivided attention. This will make them feel valued, loved and positive.
4. Plan adventure trips together
Unusual adventures make for memorable moments. Granted, there’s a lot that goes into crafting the ultimate family adventure but the payoff is multifold. It’s absolutely essential to satisfy everyone’s needs and expectations so begin with a brainstorm that gives everyone a say. Where would you like to go? What do you want to do? What experience is important to you? This is a great time to teach children how to be assertive about their needs but also how they can come to a mid-ground through healthy communication and compromise. They’ll feel proud, trusted and independent and you’ll get a wonderful chance to bond with the children at the helm.
These adventures don’t always have to be elaborate vacations. These could even be menial trips that can be turned into a fun adventure. For example: Take your child to the grocery store and ask them to pick a food no one in the family has tried before. You can turn it into an activity by employing other family members to come up with a delicious recipe to try out with this particular food.
5. Start unique traditions
A unique family ritual that we experience growing up lasts a lifetime. We often recall such moments with great fondness, it makes us feel closer to our family wherever we are. They tell the story of our family. The responsibility falls on the parents to form a wonderful mix of old and new traditions. It could be as small as having one meal together every day like breakfast-for-dinner Thursdays, starting a happiness jar that gets filled every day after dinner. Or you could introduce holiday traditions like choosing to give back to the community every Diwali, delivering homemade treats to friends and family during Holi, travelling back to your hometown every Navratri, etc.
Whether you choose to adopt ideas from our list or design your own, creating family memories is an important part of communicating virtues and values to your children. These memories lift us out of the everyday grind and create peaks that bring us out of dark times, resulting in treasured moments for life.
Read more: How To Speak With Your Child About Anxiety?