Studies have shown that amid the frantic hustle and bustle of our own everyday lives, family bonding has taken a backseat. We are too busy in making a living or simply engaged in other activities that neglect companionship.
Over a period of time, a lack of basic family bonding can prove to be detrimental for the society, creating dysfunctional adults who aren’t rooted in love, loyalty and other core values. According to anthropologist James Q Wilson, author of The Moral Sense, the family is a unit of moral instruction, where “we learn to cope with the people of the world because we learn to cope with members of our family.” This is reason enough for both parents and children to make time in their busy schedules for nurturing familial ties. Here are some tips that will help you celebrate a more meaningful togetherness.
Family recreational hour
“Laughter is an instant vacation.” said actor and comedian, Milton Berle. Create your own fun moments when you can bond as family through shared laughter. Set aside a recreational hour every week for all the members of the family to gather around, share jokes or amusing anecdotes. You can even play Pictionary and Dumb Charades with a humourous twist. Divide yourselves into two teams, draw the faces of family members or mimic their behaviour and see which team guesses it right. Parents should ensure that the play is fun and light-hearted. You’ll also find that these games will help you find out more about one another, as you delve deeper into your personalities.
Amusement park adventures
Even if your kids are older, chances are that they’d still like a day of whirling and twirling. Get an annual pass to a local amusement park, and make it a family outing, at least once in three months. An amusement park sets just the right atmosphere for you all to unwind, de-stress and to relate to one another more personally. It’s also a healthy outdoor activity because there is plenty of walking/running involved.
Use healthy food to bond; pack brown-bread sandwiches, salads; a simple wholesome meal works great. Everyone should pitch in to help with the family picnic. Right from purchasing, preparing and packaging food, ensure that the tasks are divided and everyone enjoys doing their share. A family member can select the destination every weekend, preferably a park in your neighbourhood that gives you the opportunity to toss around a Frisbee or play a game of cricket when the food is over. If you can’t travel too far, then have your family picnic on your balcony or terrace.
Arranging that perfect Kodak moment
Photo albums have a bigger role to play than just making you feel nostalgic; they capture special moments and help us relive those sentiments of affection, shared laughter and joy. Unfortunately, with the onset of digital cameras, photo albums have almost become obsolete. Even if you’ve stored your photos on a disk or a pen drive, print them out on photographic paper. You can get really creative – write captions under each one, decorate the albums, just as you would decorate a scrapbook. Talk about those good times and try to recreate some of those lovely sentiments. You’ll always cherish the pleasant memories that each picture holds.
Play board games
Traditional board games such as Monopoly, Checkers, and Chess would be ideal for an evening of quality time at home. Studies suggest that board games help build a healthy competitive spirit in children and young adults. They nurture their intelligence and introduce them to strategy and logical thinking. Arrange for a family game night and ensure there is plenty of popcorn to go around.
Enjoy the hunt
Treasure hunts are very popular at family parties. One family member hides a prize and sets up clues [in the form of difficult riddles] for others to find and solve in a step-by-step manner. Eventually, the clues lead them to the prize. Scavenger hunts are a fun togetherness activity as well. You have to divide into two teams and provide each team leader with a list of things they should find. The team that returns first after finding every item on the list is the winner. There are ample opportunities for you to get creative with the list. Be sure to slip in an old shoe, a cork screw, a bottle cap, a coat button, even a horse’s hair – whatever strikes your fancy – to make it as challenging as you can. Both these games require teamwork and synchrony to succeed.
Enjoy the great outdoors together
Camping trips may not sound like much fun for adults, but is an ideal way to bond with teenagers who crave action and excitement. Teenagers often find family activities too staid and boring. A few trips along, and you’ll realise there is beauty in your backyard that you haven’t explored. Try to camp near a scenic river, a forest area or a mountain stream, where there are other activities such as boating, trekking or hiking. On a family outing, understand your limitations and do not to physically exert yourself, or you’ll risk injury. Ensure that the activities are ones that you all enjoy. It could be something as mild as bird-watching , swimming, or even jogging along the beach.
While family vacations are wonderful ways to bond, sometimes the simple everyday activities can bring you closer. This just goes to show that a family that plays together, stays together. And you don’t need to spend money lavishly to be loved!