Whether you’re single, the kids are teens, or you’ve got no leisure funds, there are ways to make your lives together special. It used to be that families would gather ‘round the radio and listen to weekly broadcasts of a dramatized production over the airwaves.
Everyone made sure after dinner they got the closest seat, geared around the speaker—for that was a ritualistic highlight within their union. I’m not sure about your family, but ours, in this century, has often fallen short of together/quality time. That’s why I was/am determined to find the modern-day “radio show” ritual for me and my people.
We attend sporting events our kids are involved with, certainly more than our parents participated in ours. In high school, I recall setting off on a bus, to a nowhere location, to play a foreign-county team, and there were no parents in attendance—just kids from ours and other teams, those who had crushes on athletes or others just sitting on the bench.
And that was fine. Now, however, it seems the trend is “every parent shows up, regardless of work schedules or availability.” Kids look forlorn if mom or dad isn’t sitting in the bleachers. I understand it’s important for our kids to see us being supportive. But, an activity in which we are ALL participating, seems to me, a greater bond strengthener.
Even if you’re a single parent, there are ways of creating a “wholeness” to you and your children’s gathering. You may even have a closer relationship to your children than parents in traditional families.
The reason being, that you spend more time doing what the child enjoys—and you also cherish each moment more (because each visit is limited.) Regardless of your personal situation, here are some ideas to bring you and your little loved-ones closer:
Make a pact to disconnect from social media: This is going to be horrifically difficult for your teens (and you!), but you all need to participate with 100% focus (or close to that) on the chosen task at hand. Forget the rest of the world for an hour or three—and enjoy the people and the activity in your presence.
Get out: Heading outdoors, regardless of the weather, is invigorating. If it’s freezing cold, y’all bundle up and have a snowball fight. If it’s scorching hot, have a game of Marco Polo in the pool. No specific weather? Take the dog for a run. Play Frisbee. Play hoops in someone’s driveway. It’s the “together” and the “fun” that matters, above the activity or the time frame. What’s most important is everyone’s attention and involvement.
Watch Together: As technology over the years has focused more on the visual, gathering together to “watch” something has trumped getting together to “listen to” something. Personally, I don’t care how great an animated feature is, I checkout within 12 minutes of the opening scene.
What my kids and I all seem to become mesmerized by, however, is old family videos. We’re a generation that shoots photos constantly, yet reflects upon a mere few. Our children LOVE to see themselves as babies and toddlers.
It’s also a fantastic treat for me and my baby-daddy to see our progeny as unborn, being birthed, growing into toddlers, youngsters, adolescents, teens, and then… young adults. This kind of together viewing never gets old
Games: Cards and Dice: Poker will never go away and players grow in numbers as the rules and competitions grow yearly. Playing with family and friends allows youngsters to experience the thrill of winning and the devastation (and frustration) of losing in a confined environment. Get a home game going and you’ve created a fun and learning environment for the risky and the silly.
Regardless of the activity you and your children chose, it should be something that engages everyone. When someone’s not on board, coerce them to jump in. The imperative is that everyone (you and your children) connects and enjoys any activity together. Again, it’s not the time, but the quality and the ritual, which imprints the positive memorable and worthy experience.