Let’s face it: parenting isn’t easy. It’s hard enough to get it all done when everyone is getting along and things are going smoothly. But, when conflicts arise and tempers flare up, even the simplest things can seem impossible.
Luckily, there are practical steps that parents can take to maintain harmony and encourage good behavior. “Most important is having family time, free from distractions,” says Dr. Jenny Yip, board certified cognitive and behavioral psychologist. “This fosters bonding with each other, instead of relying on screen time to escape.”
Time for family activities can come in many different forms. “Just about any interactive activity can work,” says Dr. Yip, “As long as it is rewarding and positive.” Here are 10 fun activities you can incorporate into your routine, to strengthen bonds and improve family dynamics.
- Dining Together. This one’s number one for a reason! It is so important for families to eat together every day. Make this a sacred time to gather around the table and share with each other—without distraction from TV, phones, or tablets.
- Cooking. Preparing meals together is a great way for parents to spend quality time with their children while teaching them healthy eating habits and valuable life skills.
- Chores. It’s never too early to start involving the little ones in the upkeep of the home. Doing chores together—like laundry, cleaning, or washing dishes—doesn’t have to be a burden. You can have fun sharing and interacting while you teach your children about responsibility.
- Reading and Storytelling. Taking turns reading out loud or telling stories is a great way to spend quality time together, while strengthening your child’s imagination and listening skills.
- Art and Music. Drawing, coloring, making collages, singing, and dancing are all great ways families can have fun while flexing their creative muscles and expressing themselves.
- Craft Projects. Whether it is making bird houses and model airplanes, or sewing, knitting, or weaving baskets, building things together teaches children the value of patience and craftsmanship.
- Board Games. Having a regular family game night is a great way for parents and kids to have fun together, while little ones learn about friendly competition and following rules.
- Sports. The perfect way for families to get outdoors and get some much-needed exercise, sports such as basketball, soccer and baseball also teach valuable lessons in teamwork and good sportsmanship.
- Camping. Taking regular camping trips is a great way to get your family to spend time in nature, and teach your children basic survival skills. Plus, there is no bonding experience quite like sitting around a campfire, roasting marshmallows and telling ghost stories!
- Unplug For A Day. A great habit for any family to get into. Set aside one day a week to shut off the TV and the laptops, put down your smart phones, and spend the whole day really enjoying each others’ company.
Dr. Yip is a nationally recognized OCD and anxiety expert. She is a Licensed Psychologist, and is Board Certified in Cognitive & Behavioral Psychology. She is Executive Director of the Renewed Freedom Center in Los Angeles, and is Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the USC Keck School of Medicine.