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Top 10 Family Togetherness Tips

 width=Today it has become more important than ever to encourage family togetherness. Fairly easy-to-do when the children are young but the older they become, and the more involved in out-of-the-house activities, the more difficult to achieve. Nevertheless, keep at it even if that means at least once a day or several times a week you all do something together BUT preferably minus all the electronic paraphernalia (yes that means no TV, no cell phones, no Ipads and more!) unless you are watching a movie together.

Top of the list for family togetherness must be a shared meal but it can also be other activities

Here are the top 10

1. Mealtimes together are important because research has shown (and we all know this in our hearts anyway) that the children in a family that eat together achieve higher academic performance plus the figures also show high rates of positive behavior in those teens years. When teens know they have to appear at the dinner table every evening, they are less likely to take up smoking, drinking alcohol and using drugs or even resorting to other harmful habits like anorexia or bulimia. They soon realise that it could be more difficult to mask or hide any such behavior.

2. While we are on the subject of mealtimes, these give children the chance to learn meal time manners and social skills from your example. You just have to make sure you display the type of manners that you want them to have too. They will learn so quickly.

3. If your children are still young, involve them in every aspect of meal preparation. It will be fun for them at this age and become a habit as they get older so that by the time they leave home, they will be more than able to fend for themselves in the kitchen and may even thank you for it! Such preparation can involve shopping lists and planning meals, grocery trips, collecting recipes and of course preparing and cooking the meals themselves. They develop a sense of responsibility and they can derive a great deal of satisfaction. Don't make the mistake I did as a young mother of trying to do everything myself. At the same time, your children will learn about good nutrition.

4. When you are planning meals with the rest of the family, don't forget to include occasional family recipes that have been passed down and of course build up some new ones too so they in turn become part of the family tradition. New dishes give the opportunity to try out new foods or perhaps a new slant such as vegetarian dishes or raw food meals. Never has there been so much variety of foods available nor so many different ways to cook and serve. There are millions of recipes available on the internet and thousands of cookery books in print.

5. Meal times of course are a great time for communicating with each other with stories, goings-on and even some gentle teasing.

6. Bath times with younger children can be a really fun time together but with the parents staying as dry as possible and the children getting clean! Most children love bath time and it is a chance for playing with water, learning and experimenting; you can even include reading or listening to music as part of the experience.

7. Holidays and vacations often have to be handled with care as no one wants these times to undo all the good that building up family togetherness has achieved by a less than successful outcome. A family vacation should be wonderful for all the family but older children could be going through that teen stage and you might find it worth while to follow these 10 tips for travelling with a teen to ensure you all have a happy and peaceful family getaway. Special times like Christmas or other celebrations can promote togetherness while linking generations in a different way with old or new family traditions. But sometimes such occasions can be a source of strain and frustration so compromise and flexibility are vital along with a sense of humor.

8. Exercising together as a family does not have to be for long periods of time. Just five minutes – yes 5 minutes - of exercise in a park, working in a backyard garden, on a nature trail or other green space will benefit mental health for all the members of the family. Of course if you can exercise together for longer, up go the benefits.

9. Board games are an old fashioned way of doing things together as a family but children really enjoy them and in fact every one will, once they get involved. A perfect family get together activity when the weather is wet or cold. There are the old stand bys of Scrabble, Monopoly and Trivial Pursuit but new games are always being invented so there is no excuse not to try something different. Here are 50 suggestions! 1

0. Gardening with children encourages their interest and enthusiasm in nature early on in life, giving them basic skills as well as an understanding of how the eco system works. You don’t have to teach children to have an interest in all things natural – it is just there naturally! They don’t mind getting dirty or wet – they love it. They are fascinated with insects and butterflies and even slugs and snails. So encourage this interest and don’t put them off even if you are not so keen on creepy crawlies. Answer their questions and hide any squeamishness! Keeping your family close and encouraging togetherness will mean that you are less likely to drift apart in the years to come but rather strengthen your ties as a family, supporting each other whatever happens.