10 Tips to Bring your Family Closer Together
Today it's more important than ever for families to connect in a meaningful way. Research shows that the average parent spends less than 20 minutes per week in MEANINGFUL conversation with their child. That's no wonder, as the typical time that families have to engage is over the dinner table and the average American family eats dinner together less than once per month.
When kids are young, you have your best shot at engaging with them, teaching values, and setting the foundation of your relationship with them... a foundation you will need to see them through the difficult teen years.
Why not use your family vacation time as a way to RECONNECT with your spouse, and your kids? Unplug, de-stress and get to know each other on a deeper level.
Here are some ideas on ways to accomplish that.
1) HOME BASE! Choose a location for your vacation that allows you to "cocoon" together if you want, but also has plenty of options for group activities. Let's use the BEACH as an example and a good spot would be a place like Moontide in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. What makes Moontide perfect is... it's right ON the beach, it has the amenities that many fine hotels have, yet you also have a full kitchen and a washer dryer. Best of all, this type of location can save you money. The rates at Moontide (and many places like it), are less than many hotels, yet the kitchen and laundry facilities can save you a LOT of additional money and time. Moontide is a "Vacation Apartment" and has 1-3 bedroom condos so kids and parents can have their own rooms. Whether it's Moontide, or a place like it, look for a place that is like a "home away from home."
3) READ. Kids today are not spending as much time reading as they should. Reading engages the brain unlike a "passive" activity like watching a movie. An ability and love of reading is the key to lifelong success as someone who reads can always teach themselves what they need to know to succeed. Reading is a way to share values. SO... if your kids are little, spend at least an hour each day reading to them. If they are a bit older, set aside an hour for everyone to spend reading (perhaps after lunch and at bedtime) and then make what everyone is reading part of your dinnertime conversation - ask the kids what they think about the characters they are reading about. It's a great way to learn what your kids think and for you to talk about values.
Alternatively... with older kids... why not have the family WRITE stories while on vacation? A fun way to do this is to rotate. Each person writes a chapter of a story one day... and the next it is passed to another family member to add a chapter, and so on. At the end of the vacation you will have as many stories as family members... and each will be a unique window into your psyche. These stories will be treasured memories in years to come.
Here are some reading suggestions perfect for a Florida vacation ...
"The Pink Motel"
The Man Who Rode Sharks
"The Cracker Kitchen: A Cookbook in Celebration of Cornbread Fed, Down-Home Family Stories and Cuisine."
4) COOK together! The advantage of staying at a place like Moontide for a vacation is having your own kitchen and being able to make healthy food and save money. Use this as an opportunity to teach cooking to the kids. Take a cookbook with you and try new recipes. Make it a challenge to find new, healthy dishes that everyone likes and put the newly discovered recipes and photos of you making them, into a scrapbook to take home with you. It will be both a memory of your vacation and something you can build on once you are home, for a healthier lifestyle.
5) BOARD GAMES & Cards. When's the last time you played an old fashioned board game or card game as a family? Board games allow you to TALK to each other - unlike most video games. Make sure to pack a few that are educational... Chess, Backgammon, Scrabble, Trivial Pursuit, Monopoly, etc. Google "educational board games" to find more. If you are staying at Moontide, they also have board games, you can borrow, in their community room.
6) BEACH Games. The beach provides lots of opportunities for exercise that is FUN. Body boards, surfing, horseshoes, beach volleyball, "surf racing" (running in knee deep water is safe and excellent exercise), etc.
8) EXPLORE! Before you go on vacation, give the kids an assignment to come up with places to visit during your vacation. Have them write up a "report" on each and why it would be good to do, or visit. Look for ways to explore history and nature. Outdoor activities that involve exercise, etc. If you are staying at Moontide, you are a short drive to Daytona Beach, St. Augustine, Cape Canaveral, even Orlando. Use Google and put together a list, then have the family vote on their top choices to narrow it down. Don't "over-schedule" yourself, leave yourself plenty to do on your next trip!
10) ALONE TIME. Do you have multiple kids? One thing that kids repeatedly say they remember is one-on-one time with their individual parents. It's hard for kids to open up to a parent around siblings, or even the other parent. Consider scheduling "individual" things to do with each child... and give each child time alone with each parent. Get the kids to contribute a list of things they would like to do with each parent and write them down on individual pieces of paper... "Go canoeing with Mom" or "Surfing with Dad" ... then each day, make it a breakfast treat for each kid to draw out a piece of paper for the day. The ones that are left over after vacation will help you continue this into your regular lives.
More on "connecting" with your kids...
We hope that you like some of these ideas... and that you can use some of them to have a perfect, relaxing and FUN family vacation or family reunion. For more info on Moontide... on New Smyrna Beach in Florida, visit the blog.
To inquire about special rates or deals, use promo code - "Connections."
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