“You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family.” This old cliché still holds true. Family life for many is the cornerstone of our existence as human beings. We may not all have close-knit families, but over the years you will find that family may be the one constant in your life. It might be an inconsistent constant – but constant nevertheless.
Families with kids in the house often spend recreational time together, until the kids develop attitudes of their own, then all bets are off. Nevertheless, major milestones and occasions are celebrated together, we laugh as one when we are happy, we sometimes cry together when we are not.
However, family life can be stressful. Different personalities can lead to regular family squabbles, months of silence and family feuds that last years.
Here are five ways to keep your family life happy and avoid a trip to the family counselling centre.
Families that play together, stay together. Outdoor picnics or fun sporting activities can bond a family together like glue. Being out in nature is naturally soothing and a real mood enhancer. Enjoy a family hike, sundowners on the beach, a fun picnic at a beautiful location or even a game of tennis doubles – the point is to be outside playing together and having fun.
Shared experiences, especially physical ones outdoors are great family bonders.
Break bread together
Breaking bread as a family around a dinner table is a great way for a family to spend time together. Too often families might sit in the same room, even eat in the same room, but what’s really going on is a family disconnected by a digital world. Put all tech toys aside, and have a leisurely family meal around the table. Make it a regular occurrence at least a few times a week.
Share your day’s experiences and relax in a safe and comfortable, non-judgmental space, it also helps if the food is good. Spread the meal out over a few courses, enjoy some sweet treats at the end, but most importantly, enjoy being around your family. It sounds obvious but creating a happy family life in this fast-paced digital world can be tough, and it does require some planning, effort and commitment.
Same DNA, different personality traits? We may be cut from the same cloth, we may be apples that have not fallen far from the proverbial tree, but family members can be as different as chalk and cheese, or black and white, or….you get the picture. The point is, we may be as different from our siblings, parents or kids as is humanely possible for people with the same DNA to be, but we are family. Accept your differences; accept them now as you are going to be family forever. Don’t try to change anyone, they will just defend who they are, and rightly so. We can all improve ourselves in some way, start by accepting your family for who they are, embrace their differences, no matter how much they might irritate you
Make time for people
It’s easy to make promises to see family members, especially when you do not live under the same roof – but it’s just as easy not to keep them. You know the line, we’ll do coffee soon, where soon can be anywhere from 10 minutes to 5 months. Don’t make empty promises – make time. More importantly make a date to see family and keep it.
Make an effort
A strong and happy family life will provide a solid foundation for life outside your family. This does require work but the rewards for happy, healthy relationships with those dearest to your heart are limitless, and will permeate into the rest of your life as well.