Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Open Discussion

How to Keep Your Family Connected Through Balance and Mindfulness

1
Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article

c49dd10021f73fac97e8669c7dbf7be13d2054e5.jpg


Parents will always worry about their children. However, since the pandemic started, their concerns have been magnified. For instance, a 2022 American Psychological Association survey shows that 71% of moms and dads are concerned about their kids’ mental wellbeing. Almost as many are concerned about their youngsters’ cognitive development.

Can you relate?

One workable strategy to fight against all the world’s distractions is to prioritize family togetherness. Staying connected with your kids helps keep them grounded and feeling safer. Connectivity also allows you to begin establishing lifetime bonds with your kids.

Below are four ways I have created a place for balance, mindfulness, and relaxation in my home. Experiment to see which ones will work best for you and your kiddos.

1. Establish “house rules” regarding technology.

Technology has a lot of uses. It makes learning or working from home easier. It can also help save time. Nevertheless, technological devices can strain relationships between kids and their parents. That’s why I created a playbook for tech use in my home.

Consider smartphones. When your child has one, you always have a way to get in touch. There’s a problem, though: Kids can get addicted to playing games and scrolling social media sites. They can be exposed to unwanted content and unpleasant people, too.

Gabb Wireless explains that putting together a family pact about phone use before buying children phones sets a good precedent. When kids know the ground rules ahead of time, they’re less apt to fall into tech “rabbit hole” traps. I took this idea and wrote my own playbook, which includes a “rule” about no phones during dinner.

Smartphones are just one type of technology to monitor and control. Limiting TV and video game time was also important to me. The less emphasis you put on tech, the less it’ll vie for your children’s attention. And that means your kiddos will be more open to spending time doing non-tech family stuff.

2. Start and maintain family traditions.

Family traditions and routines are so important. I think back to my own upbringing and remember a few activities and events fondly. Sunday dinners with my grandparents. Friday night board games. Making a snowman and drinking hot cocoa afterward.

You may already have some traditions. Why not add more? For example, many families like to set aside a movie night once a week or once every other week. They buy snacks and hunker down for an evening watching a family-friendly film. These moments are special and shared with few outsiders, making them exclusive—and utterly memorable.

What if some members of your family have left the nest? You can still include them! Book clubs are a great way to keep the lines of communication open with your grown children. Reading a few chapters of a book a week and then discussing them on Zoom keeps your minds active. Best of all, you have an excuse to keep in touch.

Remember that a family routine doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate. As long as it brings you close to your loved ones, it’s worth your efforts.

3. Leave thank you notes for each other.

Does it ever feel like the art of saying “thank you” is over? Not to worry. You and your family can bring it back in fun, imaginative ways! Showing gratitude daily is a wonderful way for you to build love and compassion with the most important people in your life.

Look for opportunities to say “thanks.” Perhaps your son did the dishes when he didn’t have to. Or your daughter decided to walk the dog even though it wasn’t her night for “doggy duty.” You could leave a handwritten thank-you note with a piece of chocolate on their pillows. Alternatively, you could write a sweet, goofy poem on a sticky note and put it on their door or dresser mirror.

Leaving notes for your kids to find can be a rewarding activity for everyone. You get to shower your family with loads of thoughtful appreciation. At the same time, you encourage your kids to become more aware of times when others deserve recognition. Make no mistake: The longer you keep this type of positivity going, the higher likelihood your kids will jump in!

It’s hard to deny the joy of finding a thank-you note or gift from your little one. Over time, thanking each other will become increasingly natural.

4. Share the workload across household members.

Can chores keep you connected with your kids? Absolutely. It’s unfair to make one person do all the household tasks. Gallup research suggests that women still do most of the domestic tasks like laundry and cooking. If that’s something you want to change, put expectations in place of everyone in your home.

Chores don’t have to be boring, though. It’s possible to make an everyday activity like cleaning the garage or making dinner stress-free. Just putting on some favorite music and singing at the top of your lungs can make to-dos exciting.

It’s worth noting that a big side effect of asking everyone to pitch in is that your kids will learn important life skills. It’s good to know how to cook food, use the dishwasher, clean a bathroom, and fold clothing. Kids may grumble, but they get a sense of accomplishment when they complete the duties on their plates.

As a side note, don’t forget to leave those thoughtful “thank yous” when a chore was done exceptionally well!

It’s essential for kids to figure out how to unplug and unwind. The changes you make today can bring them closer to feeling more balanced emotionally—and more connected with their family.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.