We live fast-paced lives that may look like we’re spending a lot of time together but we’re actually just rushing from one commitment to the next. Work, school, soccer tournaments, birthday parties, robotics competitions, swim meets, violin lessons…the list goes on. While we are doing things with one another, we’re not really spending time with each other. Downtime is an important part of creating a strong family bond. Take time to recharge, connect and catch up on what is going on in each other’s lives.
It’s a scientific fact that making time to relax is crucial to your mental and physical well being. Long-term memories cannot be created if you do not take any time to let your brain and body rest. Want to create lifelong family memories? They won’t happen if your whole life is running from one commitment to another. Power down and relax as a family.
If you can take a family vacation, do it, but don’t fill your days with endless activities. Can’t travel? No problem, dedicate a weekend to an at-home stay-cation and make some fun family memories. And while you’re powering down your body, power down your phones, your laptops and your TVs to give your sensory system a break. You may want to give your kids the world, fill their lives with the most excitement and experience possible, but healthy emotional functioning depends on a healthy brain and body. Take the lead, be an example, and carve out time for your family to rest together.
When you take time to slow down and reconnect, you can find out all kinds of things that you didn’t realize about the rest of your family. Maybe your son is getting really into modern art and wants to take a trip to a local art gallery he found online. Your spouse might be interested in trying for that promotion at work and could really use some of your undivided attention to talk it through. Or the current events happening may be causing some stress and anxiety for your daughter, and she needs quiet time with the family to steady her.
Downtime makes space for sharing of emotions, and sharing emotions creates a safe space for the family, and in the end, safe spaces and shared emotions form sturdy bonds that can celebrate the highest of the successes and withstand the most difficult of hardships.
Lounging around the house isn’t necessarily the best way to rest and recharge. While physical recuperation and sleep is essential to your health, they aren’t exactly group activities. Calming and restorative physical activity is just as important. Take a Saturday hike through the local trails if you live in the ‘burbs; notice the plants and flowers, insects, any wildlife you might see. More of a metropolitan family? Go exploring through a new part of the city, taste new foods, observe the differences from your part of the city, the people and the surroundings. These experiences give your family new and interesting topics to discuss, shared experiences, and yes, strengthen your family bond.