By Larraine Roulston:
When raising children, there are many precious moments. Some are planned; others just happen spontaneously. Today’s parenting often can be rather daunting while juggling the activities of chauffeuring, homework, team sports, as well as coordinating meals.
Often one parent will take the kids to the park, leaving the other to catch up on chores. With four grown children, I honestly can say that I wish I had created more designated family traditions, thus providing a healthier balance. Planned family moments help provide a strong foundation.
Research has shown that it is important to build upon quality family time. Bonding with your children as a family will tend to result in their doing better in school, feeling more secure, having fewer behavioral issues, and being more likely to seek your advice when in doubt. In the blink of an eye, they have summer jobs, are off to college or getting married. Don’t miss the golden opportunity to engage with them while they are young.
Here are a few ideas to consider:
Reading Aloud — Looking at illustrated books with youngsters is always on the agenda; however, setting aside a special time each week to listen to a chapter or two from an adventure book or to participate in storytelling can be exciting for the whole family.
Games — Teaching children how to play cards provides an ability that will last them a lifetime. Parents who are concerned about gaming devices can think of family board games as a means to engage their children through human discourse. These games also assist everyone’s memory, math, reading and spelling abilities, as well as teach children how to lose graciously. Playing charades aids creativity. Opting to try humorous family debates sharpens minds and oral skills. The mix of ages, which can include grandparents, adds a level of maturity for children and it brings out in adults the joy of being a child.
Sports — Families that love calling all the plays and spouting statistics while watching professional sports can make this gathering last an entire season. By including just the right snacks and drinks, the bonding of these die-hard fans can be quite memorable. Arrange to play baseball, hockey or soccer as well as attend family swim time at your community’s pool.
Hikes & Walks — Regular family nature hikes instill an appreciation for our ecosystem. For example, a habit that my son’s family initiated was to prepare their two little girls for bed, then put them into a wagon for an evening stroll around the block. Wish I had thought of that!
Doubling Birthday Parties — My sister’s family tradition also celebrates everyone’s half-birthday — good excuse for more cake!
Entertainment — Tickets to a Christmas pantomime or any type of adventure hold great memories. With a pot of herbal tea, our young family once gathered each week to watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Today, favorite sitcoms, shows or documentaries can be recorded for later viewing as a designated family movie night with popcorn.
Eating Out — A cafe breakfast has the right ingredients for regular family meals. Request a glass of tap water without a straw to emphasize reducing waste.
It is neither too early nor too late to create your own traditions. They can be planned while expecting your first child or much later. Two years ago, our large family began celebrating New Year’s Eve with pizza and bowling. Family customs need not be elaborate; simply find ways to be together that have positive effects for everyone.
Larraine writes illustrated children’s adventure books on composting and pollinating. Fun and factual for all ages. Visit www.castlecompost.com