I love the holidays. I love the crisp air. I love the tradition. I love the colors. I love the music. I love the time with my family. I love spending hours trying to find the perfect gift. I love the smells of great food only served during these special occasions.
But, I hate traffic. I hate to travel. I hate crowds. I hate the demands of my family time. Add in some COVID, a touch of election discussion, a dash of natural disasters, a splash of special needs, and the longer nights, and I find my exhaustion can (and sometimes does) lead to an attitude of complaining. I can lose focus on the good; I can (if I am honest), sometimes, even ignore those blessings right in front of me.
I am so grateful for a husband who has helped me see this reality and the tips and tricks he has taught me to overcome this. I also know this is a year-round problem. This is a lifestyle choice. This is a daily choice. So, here are some things my family uses to be grateful for the family and build our relationships.
Count Your Blessings: The first step to having a gratitude attitude is to count your blessings. As the old adage goes, name them one by one. For some tips on how to make this a daily practice, take a look at these simple steps. Recognizing that, even though this year has been exhausting, challenging, and all around, awful for pretty much everyone, there is still so much to be grateful for. Take some time to name all the reasons you love your family; how they help; how they have grown; how far you have come toward goals.
Spend Quality Time with your Family: We make it a practice to spend at least an hour a night hanging with our little one. It doesn’t always happen, but we try to make it a priority most nights. This is the time our son picks what we do (the things that interest him). We get down on his level. We laugh with him. We celebrate with him. As he has grown, this time has become more and more essential. We often spend time cooking together or doing art together. This is an intentional time we spend learning who he is and how amazing he is. It is a reminder, especially on harder days, that there is so much light, love, and life to give to him and that he gives to us.
Family Fun Night: These are my favorite nights! My husband is usually in charge of planning these nights. And he is so good at it! Of course, we do the family game night, but my husband doesn’t stop there. Having the same routine can become monotonous if that is all you do all the time. So, we build Lego as a family or spend a night reading to each other. Around the holidays, usually the first week of December, my family loves to read The Best Christmas Pagent Ever. But here is a list of some books we have enjoyed reading together as well.
Family Work Days: I have a love-hate relationship with these days. I hate getting started and how some tasks take WAY longer than they should do to teaching and training. I love how we accomplish things as a family, I love seeing how my family grows in communication, strength, and bonds. We set a goal for the day. Sometimes it is getting the garage clean. Sometimes it spring cleaning (dusting, wall cleaning, re-organizing). Sometimes, it is a community volunteer day where we volunteer at a local organization for someone else. We really like these events being able to do things from helping the elderly to yard work for a non-profit. We love being able to serve together. This opens the door to so many life conversations that get missed in the daily chaos.
Family Work Outs: I know what you are thinking…“No way! Working out is for me to have a break from my kids” or “Nope, I don’t do that.” Although there are numerous reasons to work out for your health and wellness, there is something more rewarding when you work out together as a family. love to long-distance run together. I am slow…very slow compared to my family who can run 2 miles in under 17 minutes. But, we start as a family, and when they are done, they come back and finish with me – as a family. I love the deck of card nights. We use a traditional deck of cards and shuffle. Each draws a card. The number on the card tells us how many of the activity, the suite tells us what activity (hearts are abs, diamonds are pushups, spades are squats, and clubs rotate burpees, heavy ropes, punching bags, kicks). There is so much variety with this, and it becomes a game. We are completely out of fun ideas or need to get out of a rut, we find a new workout on Tubi, Amazon, or Youtube.
Family Fun Days: My husband and son are as manly as they come. They love to fish, hike, dig in the sand, and play in puddles. I am as girly as they come. I love to read, write, and paint. We could not be farther apart on the spectrum. But I love these days. My boys will take me hiking into a beautiful wood, then stop for hot chocolate and smores before hiking back. They have taken me fishing, while I bring a book, and enjoy watching them bring home dinner. I love it when we go to the beach and play in the water, build sandcastles, and attempt to catch fish with our hands. But, they love me too. So, sometimes we find the free days at the museums and aquariums and learn about history and art for a day. Zoos are great places to go as a family and spend time out in nature able to talk with each other. Check out next week’s blog for more ideas on how to build your family relationships on a budget.