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The One Tradition Every Family Needs To Start

July 21, 2017

I recognize that every family is different.  I realize that families are made up of people with many different schedules, interests, and personalities.  However, our family has benefitted so incredibly much from one tradition that I feel it is my duty as your Self Care Bestie to pass it on to you.  Also, healthy relationships […]

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I recognize that every family is different.  I realize that families are made up of people with many different schedules, interests, and personalities.  However, our family has benefitted so incredibly much from one tradition that I feel it is my duty as your Self Care Bestie to pass it on to you.  Also, healthy relationships are such an important part of self care that I would be remiss not to post about family stuff from time to time. So what is this life-changing, relationship-changing, family-changing tradition?
Family time.  
You may have heard of it.  You may even already do a version of family time in your home.  Whether you’re new to the concept of family time or you’ve been enjoying it regularly for a while, I’ve got some helpful pointers to make the most of this precious family tradition.  
Family time, for those of you who may not be familiar, is essentially like a family meeting once a week where every member of the household gathers together and focuses just on each other.  I prefer the name “family time” to “family meeting,” because growing up, when we had family meetings it meant only one of two things:  we were in BIG trouble, or we were moving.  
Family time is basically a weekly gathering of the entire family with a focus on loving each other well and enjoying each other’s company.  The one hard and fast rule of family time (in my opinion) is that it occurs regularly.  We have definitely had weeks where we forgot or had other plans, but for the most part, we have consistently been having weekly family time for over 3 years.  And it has paid dividends!  Let me count the ways.
In our family time, my husband, two boys and I gather around the living room and start by going around and saying something we are thankful for or appreciate about each person in the family.  I am chuckling as I write this, thinking back to when my youngest son was one and couldn’t yet speak…my husband or I would raise our voice to an munchkin-like pitch and say something like, “Mom, thank you for playing peek-a-boo with me” or “Daddy, thank you for carrying me on your shoulders.”
Sound corny?  Yeah, I know.  But here’s the cool thing.  Our sons don’t remember a time when we didn’t have family time.  Which means, since before they can remember, they were having a structured time for us to speak to them about their worth to us as individuals, and to the family.  We get to tell them the things we are proud of, the ways we are seeing them grow and learn, and share aspects of their budding personalities that thrill us. This has been especially life-giving after a week when, perhaps, their behavior was less than thrilling.  Or, for my husband and I, it helps us reconnect after a week when we have felt “off.”  Note:  Family time isn’t the only time we speak loving words to each other; we try to do that as often as possible.  Family time simply assures us that it will happen for everyone, at least once a week.
After we share our appreciation for each other, we have a treat together because:  a) YOLO and b) treat yoself and c) if they are eating Skittles maybe the kids will want to keep doing this until they are 18.  What?  Positive reinforcement is a thing.
After the treat, my husband usually reads a little of the kids’ Bible storybook to them because we want to share our faith with our boys, but we also want them to be able to ask questions and form their own opinions about God and life, etc.  We also do it because the boys love it and look forward to it.  Depending on the ages and beliefs of your family, you could read anything else together that is encouraging, uplifting, or interesting. 
Finally, we end family time by doing something fun together.  It is usually a living room dance party, in which each boy still wants to be held and asks us to “do the dip dance!”  We put on Motown or oldies of some sort (because they are not yet aware that songs other than the Trolls soundtrack exist and we must remedy this as soon as possible).  Then, we get dowwwwwn. We flip and twirl and laugh and then I eventually have to sit down for a minute because mama’s not as young as she once was.
It’s the best 25 minutes of our week.  
25 minutes…5 minutes less than a half hour.  Yes, your family does have time for this.  One parent may travel a lot, or the kids may be busy with various activities…ok…so maybe yours is a twice a month family time and it lasts an hour.  You can do whatever you need to in order to make it fit the needs of your family.  If you should happen to hate dancing, you could play a game or go for a walk instead.  But I highly recommend the dancing.  Just sayin.
As a therapist, I don’t like to tell people what to do.  In fact, I’m usually staunchly against it.  That way, if I ever do tell someone what to do in a given situation, hopefully it carries a bit more weight.  So this isn’t me telling you what to do.  Consider this my strong recommendation that you start family time soon.  Like this week.  Or yesterday.  You will never regret pouring into your family this way.  Only good things can come of this.  
Before we know it, the little ones will have flown the coop, and we will let them fly, having given them a sense of security and significance that will adequately prepare them for establishing a happy family of their own someday.
So, yeah…I’ve got 25 minutes a week.  How about you?

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  1. Missy says:

    Beautiful idea. We used to all gather as a family every day, no electronics or distractions and really talk as a family. Now kids are older, we get busy, don't always eat together and it doesn't happen. Your idea takes it one step further and I love it. Thank you.

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