Ideas for strengthening families: new inspiration for a new year

By Hilarie | Intentional Family Life

ideas for strengthening families

It’s a new year and a time for fresh starts. Many of us set goals around strengthening families and improving relationships with those we love. Here are three of my favorite- simple- new ideas I’m planning to implement in 2017 to strengthen my family. Of course, they all include making memories together!

  1. Video interview your children on their birthdays. Ask the same questions each year and see how their answers (as well as their voice and looks!) change. This idea is from Jennifer at Baby Making Machine, and I love it! She has some great specific question ideas, with variations for younger and older children. For my children, I think I’ll add some of the following questions to Jennifer’s list:
  • What’s your favorite activity to do as a family? With Mom? With Dad?
  • What do you love most about your sibling(s)?
  • Who is your best friend and why?

Won’t this be fun to look back on previous birthday interviews on future birthdays? The kids will love seeing their younger selves. I predict lots of giggles and laughter as well as a few tears of nostalgia from Mom. And of course, these videos become part of the ongoing family narrative to preserve for posterity.

2. Create a special tradition unique to each family member. This one has to do with birthdays, also. Parenting experts Linda and Richard Eyre promote the importance of building everyday family traditions, and suggest marking each family member’s birthday with a special tradition unique to them. They were keynote speakers at a conference last fall where I taught some classes, and they shared a few of their family birthday traditions.

  • For one daughter, they always build and race toy boats on a nearby stream for her birthday.
  • Because Richard’s birthday comes at a time of falling leaves, their family always makes a game of playing in the colorful, crunchy leaves together. Even when a child was across the world and missed the family celebration, he recalled the memories and marked the birthday by mailing his dad a fallen leaf.

The Eyre’s birthday traditions have continued and become even more meaningful as their children have grown and started families of their own. What special tradition or celebration could you start on birthdays? Is there something unique to the person or season that would make it meaningful for years to come?

strenghtening families

3. Laugh and play together everyday. It’s always been a priority for me to read with my children every day. But it’s harder for me to let loose and play (unless we’re in the pool together!). Thankfully, I have a daughter who prides herself on being silly and a good husband who often uses tickles to cure the grumpies. Little Sister, in fact, believes so strongly in the importance of family play that she’s writing a how-to book on the subject! I can’t wait to share it with you and am getting really anxious… but she’s only 8 years old, and I can’t rush an artist’s creative process. 🙂

Draw a crazy picture,

Write a nutty poem,

Sing a mumble-gumble song,

Whistle through your comb.

Do a loony-goony dance

‘Cross the kitchen floor,

Put something silly in the world

That ain’t been there before.

-Shel Silverstein

How will you strengthen families, celebrate birthdays and make memories in 2017? Please, please, please share your ideas with a comment below! I love learning all the wonderful things you are doing that strengthen families. I am inspired by your creativity and commitment to building families that are close-knit and resilient.

And if you find this post useful, I’d so appreciate you sharing it on social media!

 

P.S. Have you ever played Drawful?? You have to check it out and play with your family! It’s an interactive game played across devices and my family of four had a blast adding this to our family New Year’s Eve party. I have been accused of being “anti-screen” or “anti-technology” because, well, it can be isolating when everyone retreats to their own devices instead of talking to each other. But this game brings everyone together in fantastic interaction. I haven’t laughed that hard since I don’t know when. All ages had a blast, admittedly usually at my expense because I just might be the world’s worst artist. But it’s worth it for the fun times together! It would be really fun with extended family, too- can’t wait to play with my siblings and their kids when we next get together. So long as one person owns it, they can invite everyone else to join with the room code specific to each game. See what you think and let me know if you love it, too!

 

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