In a family with 8 kids that are all involved in different activities, it was not always easy to find time to spend together as a family. When the older 4 kids started school, Jim and I decided to designate one day and one night every week for family time. Wednesday night and all day on Sunday were for family only.
On Sundays we would go to mass, then breakfast and the rest of the day we would hang out together. Everyone had a Sunday that they were able to pick an activity that he/she wanted to do and the rest of us would join in. Not everyone was thrilled with this arrangement, but we all tried to be good sports about it. There were exceptions to family-only days occasionally, but we really tried to keep it just us.
Jim raced his sailboat (in the summer) on Sundays so we went to Mass and breakfast, then he sailed, and after the race, we continued family only. Occasionally the kids' sports that got in the way as well, but we really made an effort. The thing about being a family is BEING a family. As with anything worthwhile it takes time and practice, but it is worth it. You will not get to know each other if you are not together.
The beauty of this time was that there were no cell phones or handheld video games yet, so we played board games (notably not bored games) and spent time outdoors. We shared what was going on in our lives and most of the time everyone shared, face-to-face, not by tweeting, texting, or whatever new thing that is out there now.
Because we spent time together in the easy, fun times, we were able to navigate the trying, major change times in our lives together. Our kids had plenty of time to be with their friends, but these family-only moments really gave them a time to appreciate their siblings (and hopefully their parents).
As my children get older and they have their own children, I love watching how they genuinely like spending time with each other. That is not to say that it is perfect all the time. There are. of course. moments of real sibling tension, but it happens, then it is over and they are back enjoying each other.
- Being a family is BEING a family. I cannot say this loud or often enough
- You can start anytime, but the earlier the better. If your kids are older, they may be a bit resistant and think their social lives are over, but I can assure you they will live through this and end up happy you made them do it.
- In good times and not so good times, we are a family and can weather any storm together. (And the bonus is my kids have picked partners, that get it, and for the most part like being together with our family)