Our family, comprised of my husband, two sons, and myself, has historically gotten along pretty well; we are generally close-knit, open with conversations and emotions, and enjoy one another’s company. However, the truth is, after months of COVID forced lifestyle changes, we are sick of each other, really sick of each other. The weirdest thing about it, though? Even though we are sick of each other, we miss each other. What a contradiction!
We miss the preciousness of togetherness.
Before COVID, we were working, sporting, traveling, play dating, schooling, and recreating. There were large portions of days when we did not see each other much. So when we came together at the end of the day and on weekends, we had fun together. For us, distance really does make the heart grow fonder.
Now, because of being together all the time, the preciousness of family time has disappeared, and we miss it. We decided as a family to figure out ways to bring the preciousness back to family time. Perhaps our journey back will help and support you.
Individualism versus Family Time and Togetherness
Let’s set the stage. Being together is not a new thing for us. We affectionately call ourselves a together-all-the-time family. During the boys’ preschool years, my husband and I took turns being stay-at-home parents. As an educator, I am home with the boys during all school breaks, and I see them throughout the school day because we are all in the same building. Our family moved three times in nine years, and during the initial months at all our new locations, we had no one to hang out with except each other. As you can see, we are experienced together-all-the-timers, but even with all that practice of togetherness, these COVID stay-at-home months have been very hard on our family time.
Back in March, when the world first shut-down, we had a good time at home. It was an extended Spring Staycation full of laughter and together time. We went biking, played board games, baked, and played outside. Over time though, we slowly moved into separate rooms. For large portions of the day, we pursued our own interests and electronic-based social engagement and entertainment. We went from dinner made, eaten, and cleaned up as a family to dinner made and set out buffet-style by one or two people, eaten individually, and cleaned-up by my husband or me.
As the individualism grew lopsided, my husband and I started to feel sad about our family being apart-under-the-same-roof. After some husband and wife and full family discussions, we came up with some ways to re-connect and revive the preciousness of family time in our home.
Tips for Greater Family Connection
Below are our ideas we'd like to share with you. Perhaps these ideas will be useful to you and your family connection time.
Eat Dinner Together
Sitting and eating together again has created a focused time to talk about our day. We talk about what we have been doing, who we have talked to, what games we played, what we might like to eat tomorrow, what is missing on the shopping list, and other details of our independent lives. Also, we have reinstated working together during prep and cooking. We have also created a rotating post-dinner kitchen clean-up schedule.
Family Time Games: Play Simple, Quick Games Together
We have started leaving one simple (only two players) and a quick (full game in 10 minutes or less) game on the side table in the living room. During the 10 minutes of game time, the two people involved get to laugh together, have a little friendly competition, help each other (if the competition isn’t too fierce), and think about something other than consuming media, chores, work, school, or the stresses of the current world.
Plan One Family Activity a Week
Planning at least one family activity a week has helped us remember we actually do like being together. Our activity is usually an outdoor adventure or movie night for us.
Don’t Forget the Chores—and Do Them Together!
Doing chores reminds us that using a portion of time and energy to tend to our home allows our home to run smoothly and be ascetically pleasing. Our environment helps us to feel good, and doing chores together is a great way to model teamwork in a family. Even little ones can help!
Sit Next to Each Other as You Do Individual Activities
The world is so busy being six feet apart that being within six feet of each other has become pretty precious. So when we can, we sit next to each other while we do our own things such as reading, surfing the Web, or working. We no longer underestimate the deep connection of holding hands, having feet touch, or simply being in the same air bubble as someone we love.
Hot Drink Time
Hot-drink-time is a special event that I grew up with. My family of origin would sit around in the morning and sip on tea, coffee, or hot cocoa while chatting and catching up on life. I have brought this special time to my family of creation. Hot-drink-time, be it morning, midday, or evening, allows us time with a drink that warms our souls and fills our cup (pun intended) while we spend a few intentional moments with one another.
Switch-Up Sleeping Arrangements
We like to snuggle, look at the stars, and share stories at bedtime. So, sometimes, I sleep in the extra bunk bed in the kids’ room. We also like to set up a tent and sleep outside, looking at the stars and listening to the night sounds or in the den after watching a family movie. Slumber parties, after all, are what precious memories of made of.
These things have helped us revive the preciousness of family time. Now, as we alternate togetherness with separateness throughout the day, we have lots of little ways to come together and enjoy, connect with, and love on one another even with the overload of time together.
Related reading: "Positive Parenting: 3 Parenting Strategies for Greater Patience."
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