By: Tiffany Bunn
Let’s take a few minutes to really look at the positive side of this pandemic. Being sheltered in place is allowing families to reconnect in ways that our previous busy schedules did not. Here are some things you may do with your family members (living in the same household, of course) to help build stronger bonds.
- Dine as a family: when I think about when I was growing up, I remember so vividly dining together as a family. We would laugh together, catch up on what was going on in each other’s lives and we were closer because of it. The Family Dinner Projects states that many of the benefits of dining together are better academic performance, higher self-esteem, greater sense of resilience, lower risk of substance abuse, lower risk of teen pregnancy, lower likelihood of developing eating disorders, and so much more…
- Play games together: some of my fondest memories as a child (I was a military brat) was that, every time we moved, weeks would go by that we did not know anyone. We would play board games and card games every night. It was a great way for us to connect and let our hair down. Sara Meghan Walter, Ph.D. stated that there are five great reasons to play games with your family. Those reasons are (1) increased resilience, (2) it helps build self-confidence, (3) it promotes essential skills including problem solving and decision making, (4) it encourages academic development, especially when you play strategic games such as chess or Pictionary, and (5) it offers lasting memories.
- Complete chores together: as much as your children may groan when it is time to do chores, there are so many benefits they gain by doing them. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, chores help others learn to manage their time, develop organizational skills, feel like a contributing member of your household, provide an opportunity for success, and so much more. Since a child does not innately know how to do chores, a parent or older sibling typically steps in to teach that child which creates such a special learning and bonding opportunity.
- Go for a walk together: We all know that exercise is good for our health. According to netdoctor.co.uk, there are additional benefits. Among the benefits listed (1) it may help improve your child’s long distance vision, (2) it’s an easy activity that improves overall well being by increasing higher levels of hormones such as adrenaline and endorphins that boost mood and energy, (3) walking reduces daily aches and pains by engaging the muscles that are dormant while sitting, (4) it creates an opportunity for parents and children to have a genuine conversation, and walking helps to focus your mind.
- Plant a garden: According to Catherine Holecko, “gardening helps teach kids responsibility and gives them a sense of accomplishment. It gives all of you a project to work on – and enjoy – together, which reinforces your family bond.” Some of the other benefits she noted in her article “How a Family Garden Will Improve Your Health” are it lowers stress while improving your mood, allows for better sleep in the evening, offers a physical activity with a shared purpose, encourages healthier eating, and so much more.
- Go on a bike ride together: Hamax USA suggests that bike riding gets kids off of technology and into their communities. By riding as a family, the relationship between one another are strengthened. Studies suggest that students that bike to school are more alert and ready to learn. Parents are able to model good biking behavior, after the initial investment of purchasing bikes, it provides low cost entertainment for the family (I don’t know about your family but when my family of five goes to the movies, we easy spend at least $75…ouch!), and it is good for the environment. If the cost of purchasing a bike is what is holding you back, consider checking out Craigslist or your community’s Buy Nothing groups on Facebook. As my kids have outgrown their bikes, I have always given their bikes away rather than selling them.
There are so many other things you can do with family to strengthen bonds and cultivate stronger relationships, many of which share the benefits listed above. These include:
- family movie night in the living room
- watch a YouTube paint night tutorial and paint as a family
- have a dance party
- paint and decorate a room in your house together
- cook meals together
No matter what you find your family engaging in, remember to do it together. Don’t worry about perfection, but rather enjoy the journey. These things will not only help you survive the pandemic as a family, they will help you to thrive together.