December 16, 2019
Increase Your Family Connection: 12 Doable New Year’s Resolutions & Rituals
Written by Rachel Eddins
Why do we love New Year’s resolutions? There’s something about the possibility of change and intentionality of it all. However, we all know that lofty resolutions don’t stick, especially the things we think we should do, but don’t really want to do. But what about resolutions that are tied to our values, the things in our lives we cherish the most, such as family connection?
Many of us spend a month or two before the new year reconnecting with loved ones, celebrating a season of gladness and gratitude, and indulging in a bit of rest, relaxation, and play together. You can continue the spirit of connection in small ways throughout the year.
Instead of resolutions, consider ways to increase family rituals. Rituals and traditions give our busy lives meaning and connect us to each other. The good thing about New Year’s wishes for family connection is how attainable they are! Consider these ideas for meaningful and repeatable ideas to boost your family bond throughout the year:
Doable New Year’s Resolutions & Rituals to Increase Your Family Connection
Food and family foster some of the most fun rituals. Dining, cooking, and baking together naturally lend themselves to relaxed conversation, connection and memory-making.
Make family dinners a must.
Make it a goal to have a meal together every day. If that isn’t possible try for at least three days a week. Parents and kids around the table regularly have been shown to grow a healthy family culture quickly and effectively. If you can, try to make the whole dinner process (cooking, table setting, and clean up) a joint effort.
Voice gratitude before a meal or share highs and lows of the day.
This is a simple ritual you can add to your family mealtimes.
Why not make food a family adventure?
Once a month, agree to try a new restaurant, take a family cooking class, or simply grocery shop together and create a foreign cuisine together at home. The novelty of shared delight (or disgust) over new foods can create great family connections.
Enjoy Grandma’s greatest culinary hits.
Whether you have a family member whose dishes are favorites (Pop’s smoked ribs, Auntie’s fruit cobbler, or Nana’s lasagna?) or a legacy of hand-me-down recipes, agree to make one or two per month. It gives the whole family a creative outlet, a tasty treat to look forward to. Also, you can spend some time recalling good times or sharing anecdotes about extended family, past and present.
The phrase “The family that plays together, stays together,“ was first published in Parents’ Magazine back in 1954. And though we’ve traded in drive-ins for Netflix and sing-a-longs for iTunes, there is still a lot of play left to bond our family’s connection today.
Family Fun Night 2.0
Decide once a week to play together. A board game, football in the park, even a video game tourney are just fine. Then take things up a notch. Every time you come together inject an element of surprise, excitement, or unexpected twist. For example, agree that tonight’s board game winner will enjoy luxury turndown service at bedtime, complete with a mint on the pillow, a glass of water, and an acapella lullaby by the other family members. Why? To keep things fun and fresh and unique to your family’s personality. Be silly together and take every opportunity not to take yourselves too seriously.
Perpetual Family Photo Shoots
Let’s face it cameras are everywhere. You know it and your kids know. Why not make the most of them? Make a point of stopping what you’re doing every day to come together for a quick group shot. Whether you are crammed together in the bathroom brushing your teeth in the morning or frolicking on the beach together for Spring Break, take a minute to get a whole family selfie. At the end of the month make a movie or print them out and giggle over the mundane, silly, amazing things that make your family yours.
Share with Each Other
Healthy, happy families share their feelings, perspectives, and lives openly and safely. Rituals that promote that environment can make all the difference.
Prioritize time for everyone to be seen and heard. Focus on building trust, being trustworthy, respect, compassion, and unconditional support. Make a point to unplug the tech to touch base and talk out the week’s highs and lows, whether at dinner, while driving in the car, or when spending time outdoors. Kids respond better when it’s not a direct conversation. Also, make conversations shorter and more frequent.
If you’ve struggled to support each other this way, plan regular visits with a family counselor. They can help smooth out unhelpful communication dynamics and increase your odds of finding communication patterns that work.
Spend more one-on-one time.
Families need to grow their separate relationships as well as their group bond. As a couple, it’s vital to protect and prioritize date nights and getaways. As parents, “kid dates” in which you spend time on your own with each child is important too.
Share a really good laugh or a good story.
Laughter is an incredibly important part of family life. Look for ways to interject humor and tension-breakers often. Of course, don’t kid at each other’s expense or employ a lot of sarcasm, be kind. But do build a repertoire of inside jokes. Watch funny movies together. Share funny anecdotes about your bad day and try to lighten up when things get heavy. A fun ritual might be to end the week with several turns of “tell me something good” tales around the dinner table. This can help your family smile more and put things in perspective.
Family Connection and Rituals Make Belonging Happen
Increasing family rituals are opportunities to bloom and grow the family connection. Too often we miss the boat on New Year’s resolutions because we focus on things that don’t bring meaning. That needn’t be the case this year. These resolutions are a group effort.
As you put your rituals into practice share your gratitude with each other. Tell each other how much you appreciate your connection. Belonging doesn’t happen by accident. Your family rituals are doable because you love each other and support the common goal of seeing your family thrive.
Finally, do you need help getting into a family groove or sense there are deeper issues to navigate? That’s okay, your family is not alone. You might just need a bit of professional support. Eddins Counseling Group in Houston, TX has qualified and experienced family counselors that can help increase family connection. Call us at 832-559-2622 or book an appointment online. Please reach out, we’re here for you and yours.