1. 5 Ways to Maximize Family Time

    Spending more time with loved ones often tops a parent’s priorities list. It’s a simple goal, but how do you take practical steps to make it happen? Here are five easy tips for any parent looking to make more family memories.

    Family Meals

    Whether it’s a weekend brunch or a Tuesday night spent gathered around a pizza, mealtime can easily become family time. Gathering around food is never a tough sell, just make sure to inform all you family member ahead of time to clear their busy schedules for a sit-down meal. Maybe you’ll even get some mileage out of that dining room table!

    Charity

    Getting involved with a charity as a family can be greatly rewarding. It’s also a nice balance of family time and social time, allowing your family to spend time together while meeting others in your community. Scheduling can be difficult at first, but once you make it part of your routine, your family may find charity to be the most joyous part of the week.


    Chores

    No one wants to do chores, but they have to get done. And as the old saying goes, “misery loves company.” And even if chores aren’t exactly miserable for you, they’re a lot more fun if you do them with family. Try breaking off into teams to tackle various tasks. Put on some motivational music or just chat while you get to work.

    Rotating Activities

    If you designate a few hours a week for a planned activity, you can rotate which family member gets to decide what to do. You may find yourself playing your son’s favorite videogame one week and getting amateur dance lessons from your daughter the next. Don’t worry – you’ll get your chance to share your interests with your family as well.

    Sharing Screen Time

    Many parents complain that when they get home everyone in the household is glued to one screen or another. Why not all watch something together? With so much media at your fingertips, it should be easy to find a TV show or movie everyone can agree on. Whatever you end up watching, make sure to engage your kids in conversation after – that can be the best part. 

     

  2. Family Fun: Fall Edition

    image

    Although fall marks the end of trips to the beach and water balloon fights, it also brings new and exciting ways to have fun as a family. Check out some of these activities!

    October’s here, which means Halloween’s on the horizon. Dressing up in coordinating costumes with the rest of your family can be a great way to get everyone in on the fun. The cast of your favorite TV show, a flock of Angry Birds, a coven of witches – discuss some options with your kids and see what sticks. Even if you choose not to do a family costume, your kids will probably be dressing up, and you should consider getting in the spirit, too.   

    image

    Thanksgiving presents lots of other opportunities for family bonding. It may be a food-centric holiday, but the good times don’t have to revolve around the Thanksgiving Day meal. Get your kids involved in the whole process. Have them make hand turkeys to show guests, or cut leaves out of craft paper to decorate the house. The festivities will be all the sweeter if your whole family played an active role in making it happen.

    The fall is the last time your family can spend a significant period of time outdoors before winter’s cold sets in, so don’t squander the opportunity! Go apple picking, spend time in the park watching the leaves change, or go to an outdoor event. But make sure your kids have warm clothes to suit the season – if they don’t, check out our selection of jackets, sweaters, and accessories

    Fall also features a selection of unique culinary treats. Cook up a batch of mulled cider or a pumpkin pie for your family. The fact that these treats are seasonal makes them all the more special.

    image 

    The great thing about fall is that so much is happening. No matter what your family’s interests, you can find something awesome to do. Sport fans? Fall is prime tailgating season! Craft masters? Try your hands at making pine cone bird feeders! Nature lovers? Take a hike! And when the air really starts to cool, build a fire.

    What will you do this fall?

     

  3. Beat the Winter Blues!

    The sun will come out tomorrow…or will it? The short, grey days of winter can seriously dampen moods. As you and your family spend more time indoors, it can seem like boredom and irritability are more prevalent than fun and togetherness. Some people are more affected than others by winter weather, but studies show that children are more prone than adults to the sort of tearfulness and despondence that seems to creep up around mid January. All of us could use a little boost to get back on the sunny side, so take some of these tips to ensure your kids (and you) overcome the winter blues.

    Exercise and outdoor exposure are essential to maintaining a good mood in winter. True, it’s probably cold outside, but the more time you and your kids spend in direct sunlight, the better you’re likely to feel. Even more important is physical activity. Just a little bit of exercise per day can raise your serotonin level, which helps ward off depression like a big bite of chocolate (in fact, chocolate boosts serotonin too, though you might not want to tell your kids).

    If it’s too cold to play outside, devise a plan for physical activities inside. Young kids will love having a dance party every night, and older kids may enjoy trips to a skating rink or indoor swimming pool. If your children are into fall and spring sports, try to get them interested in winter sports, because any scheduled physical activity is a great remedy to winter blues.

    If your area happens to be snowbound, there are lots of fun activities for kids to enjoy. Skiing, sledding, and pond hockey are all time-tested standbys. If you have a lot of snow on your hands, the construction of forts, igloos, and snow sculptures can provide an excellent diversion for the whole family (check out these snow sculptures for inspiration). On the other hand, avoid snowball fights – what begins as friendly can turn downright warlike. And whatever your outdoor plans may be, make sure your child is well-equipped for the weather, because a cold kid can turn mighty fussy. Check out our selection of winter gear!   

    When the blizzard’s roaring outside, it’s helpful to have a list of low-key indoor activities prepared. Board games? Should be a big checkmark next to that one. Calming music and reading are also good ideas. If your reading voice is getting kind of scratchy, try getting a recording of a favorite story, dimming the lights for mood, and inviting your family to relax and imagine.  

    Most importantly, be aware that people are a little more likely to lose their cool during the winter months. Kids may be more prone to tantrums and mood swings, so do your best to be supportive. If your little one grows abnormally depressed, it could be a sign of Seasonal Affective Disorder, and you might consult your pediatrician. But for everyday winter blues, a little understanding and a lot of active fun go a long way.    

      

    Sources:

    http://mommytoomag.com/2011/01/31/snow-day-alternatives-%E2%80%93-10-tips-to-beat-the-winter-blues/

    http://www.aboutourkids.org/articles/seasonal_affective_disorder_sad_help_kids_beat_winter_blues

    http://www.wahm.com/articles/7-fun-kids-activities-to-beat-the-winter-break-blues.html