For a lot of people, holidays will mean more time for connection with family. This time might feel fun and special ...or it might feel stressful and challenging with pressures and tensions that come with increased time together….and trying to find activities to keep the kids busy and having fun.
Holidays are a chance for connection and family bonding, but what are the benefits of family time? When we spend time with our kids this helps them feel important to us and wanted, and secure in their relationship with us. This type of security promotes confidence, self-esteem, resilience, and happiness. Also, when kids feel secure in their relationship with parents and caregivers, they develop their social skills and ability to navigate peer relationships.
So how can you connect with and enjoy your family in the holidays?
1. Have fun together. Play, fun, and enjoying each other keeps positive energy in families and improves relationships. Think about what you do together that you can do more of. Talk about the different 'types' of play and fun that appeal to different family members and brainstorm fun activities you'd like to add in or experiment with for connection.
2. Keep up, or start, family rituals and traditions - this helps with a sense of belonging. Does your family have (or can you start) any holiday traditions? Any daily rituals like morning coffee/hot chocolate, or reading at night? Holiday traditions like board games, road trips, picnics, or hiking?
3. Use every day, ordinary moments for fun and positive connection e.g., chatting when driving to an event, 'car games' on a road trip, music, and dancing when cleaning, cooking, or exercising together.
4. Consciously consider expectations and any pressures you might feel from social media, society, and even family and friends. Special times don't have to cost a lot of money or involve big trips (although you can if you like). Think about your family and what's right for you.
What are some activities you can do together as a family?
· Nature walk/hike
· Baking cookies
· Reading in bed each night
· Watch a family movie
· Play backyard cricket…or soccer…or rugby…or throw a Frisbee
· Walk along the beach
· Star gazing in the back yard
· Make craft together
· Take a scenic drive
· Have a picnic in a park…or the back yard
· Family bike ride
· Colouring together
· Drawing together
· Learn a new hobby/skill/recipe together
· Do a science experiment together
· Go out for a smoothie
· Play a board game
· Learn to play one of your child’s favourite screen time games
· Walk the dog together
· Fly a kite
· Play ‘the balloon game’ – keeping the balloon off the ground by taking turns bouncing it up into the air
· Visit your local park
· Find a new park
· Visit your local library…borrow a book and check out the community activities offered
· Have a water gun/water balloon fight
· Listen to music together – take turns choosing songs
· Go out for icecream
· Plan some flowers or herbs in the garden
· Do a family jigsaw puzzle
· Go bug hunting in the garden
· Chalk drawing on the concrete
· Homemade pizza night
· Visit a zoo
· Visit a theme park
· Build LEGO together – for lots a great ideas and inspiration visit https://legolibrarian.com/
Connecting with play and fun reduces stress, improves thinking and wellbeing, fosters children's sense of self-worth and positive behaviours, and strengthens families.
If you'd like more ideas and inspiration for ways to help with positive connection and fun - visit the Compass Seminars Australia website for the Helping Families Thrive card deck created by Leonie.
Dr Leonie White - Clinical Family Therapist and Psychologist
Helping people grow, connect and thrive in life’s unique journey.
Please note - this article is educational in nature and does not constitute therapy advice.
Please seek help from a professional if you require support.