08 May 2007

Woman to Woman

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Tips and Tricks:
Getting the Family Together.

In today's lifestyle, it's sometimes difficult to get the whole family together at the same time. Kids' sports, music lessons, church meetings and many other things keep families on the go. What have you found to be successful tools for bringing your family together during those times when it seems that everyone is going different directions? If you are Empty-Nesters, what did you do when your children were still at home? What works today for getting together with your children and grandchildren?

Having quality time together as a family, often, has got to be one of my most important goals as a mother. I want my home to be a warm, comfortable, inviting refuge and I do not feel like it can be that if the family within is not close-knit.

Growing up family time was stressed. It was one thing my parents did right. Despite the contention, we had family night (most weeks). We always attended church together on Sunday. We went on vacation every year, not just to visit family, but to spend time having fun together. The whole family attended the baseball games, or the violin recitals, or the dance performances, or the karate tournaments my siblings and I were involved in. Everything was a family event and time together as a family was a top priority. Nothing took precedence over it.

My husband and I have started a few traditions of our own to assure that we head in the same direction. First and foremost, we attend church together on Sundays. As we are LDS, we also dedicate one night a week, usually Monday nights, to "Family Home Evening". We either have a lesson on an important gospel principle or an activity. On the first Monday of every month, that activity is dinner out as a family. As the family I grew up in was deeply involved in many activities outside the home, there was little time spent together at meal time. So I strive to have that relaxing time together with our children. Going out to eat is great practice for our children, and an opportunity for my husband and I to team up and teach them manners and etiquette. But it is also a fun way to celebrate belonging to each other.

Another thing we love to do as a family is go for Sunday afternoon drives. We bring some nice soothing music for the kids, classical or sacred, and my husband and I talk while we all admire the scenery.

We often enjoy sitting down together with a big bowl of popcorn and watching old family videos. It is so fun for us to reminisce and look at how much our little family has grown. My kids love to see themselves and their siblings as babies, and to be reminded of all the different places we have lived. This is how stories begin - the ones you tell over and over and never tire of.

As my kids grow older and become involved in more extracurricular activities, I hope to make those family gatherings as well. I may not involve my kids in as many activities as I was growing up... I think overdoing it is easy to do and hard to recognize. But my children will find things they love to do and I will teach them the importance of supporting and encouraging one another in those endeavors.

In my opinion, it is just as important to spend time alone with each of your children, as it is to spend time together as a family. They each need to develop a one-on-one relationship with their parents. So, I may take my daughter out for a pedicure, or my oldest son to the train store. I may share an apple with my toddler every morning, or take the baby for a walk in the evening. My husband may take each of them to a movie, or out for dinner. Whatever it is, it makes them feel special, and in a large family where everyone is competing for attention, that's important.

These days home is the only safe haven for our children. We can no longer rely on the village to look out for them. Gone are the days in which we can send our kids out into the neighborhood and say "Be back by dark!" I want my home to be somewhere they choose to be. And I want to be someone they choose to be with. If we don't have that, I fear for where they will turn when they get hurt, or become afraid.

You know the drill! Be sure and head over to Seeds from my Garden, too!


An Ordinary Mom said...

I love the once a month out to dinner night you have. We might have to adopt that once DH is done with school. We also try to spend one on one time with each child as well. Great ideas in your post, I knew you would have some wonderful tips!

Jen said...

I really liked what you said about the importance of one-on-one time with each child! That is so true, we need to nurture our individual relationships with each of our children!

Thanks for sharing some really great ideas!

K 3 said...

Nice ideas ... I think having one-on-one time with each kid is a really nice tip.

should remember it when I have another one! :)

Morning Glory said...

"Celebrate belonging to each other"

Oh, I love that statement! Your words are so thoughtfully written, as usual, and I have no doubt your home is the safe haven you desire it to be.

utmommy said...

Family time is so important, I agree. Love your ideas!

MommyK said...

I think too often we get caught up in the day to day craziness that is life, and forget to really count our blessings. This is a good post!

Linds said...

One to one time with children is aa wonderful thing. I always did that with mine, and they still love it now that they are grown. The other thing I can't emphasise enough is the decision I made to be my children's Mum and not a contemporary. They will have many friends, but just one Mum, and I cherish that.

Montserrat said...

I love the idea of going out to eat as a family on a regular basis.

Enjoyed reading all your tips and ideas!

Susie said...

How wonderful that you emphasize spending one on one time as well as all of you together. Very important to take of each part that makes up the whole unit!!
I love how each person who contributes adds something just a little different!!

Zoe said...

LOL! I just realized that I had read your post but not commented on it! I do that a lot you know!! :) I love your ideas and the ways that you guys hang out!

ps getting pics to you soon!!

The Joy Of Being A Gran said...

I agree, it is very important to have the one on one time with each child and grandchild. I have two daughters, each with one child. I try to plan a day that I do something special with each daughter and grandchild biweekly as time permits. At least one weekend a month we do something as a group of five. Thanks for sharing the great ideas for getting the family together .