Family is a loving gift to me. It is the people who complete our lives. It is only me, my husband and our nine-year-old daughter, Kate that complete our circle, so we are “the three musketeers.” We have a lot of fun together, but with an only child you also get moments of question. I have literally had people tell me how cruel it is to only have one child, that she will grow up spoiled and alone, so needless to say, there are times when I wonder if we are doing it right, if we are enough to guide her along to the life she needs.
In Utah, you rarely find anyone who has less than four children, it is truly amazing and I commend every mother and father out there who takes on the challenge and makes it a good ride. Cheers to you!! But there is something fun when you meet someone who has been an only child, you instantly want to get to know them, to hear that their life was good and that your child will turn out great despite the fact that she is the only one.
We met a nurse at our local hospital who had an instant connection with Kate because he was an only child. He talked about how fun it was growing up so close to his family, going on great trips (because they could afford to with less children), he enjoyed being an only child. There was a moment of relief for me as he told us about his childhood experiences. There are always the positives and the negatives in everything, so it made me realize, that it is the quality time together that in the end matters most. I knew that, but seeing a grown, only child who spoke of cherished moments with his parents really hit home. No matter what, it’s the time together with one child or ten. Those are the moments that will stay with them, that will teach them as they grow, that will nurture them into the beautiful people they will become.
So here is to our families…here is a compilation of tips, tricks and things to bring your family together to make special memories that will be remembered.
GOOD QUALITY FAMILY TIME
Make memories together out of any occasion: at our house we try to create an occasion out of many things…when we bought our daughter her first pair of roller-skates, we celebrated with a fun movie night of popcorn and ‘Xanadu’—classic rollerskating movie musical!! She loved it! Pulling a tooth may require a special drum roll on our keyboard. We create special made up songs for different holidays and sing them during the special month. We play pretty music and light a candle for a bath or shower to make it a special occasion. We bundle up and go on winter walks during the first snowfall. We pile up fall leaves and make a nest for a special family picture…the ideas are endless, you just need to make the occasions special with your family in mind.
Make sure you take the time to eat together: With crazy schedules and mad dashes to the local market or tennis practice, are you making time to eat together? Whether you plan a special Saturday breakfast or you eat dinner together (at least once a week), make it a priority. We have a special Saturday breakfast where we make muffins, scrambled eggs, hash browns. We sit around the table and ask each person what they are grateful for and it turns into a weekly Thanksgiving. Make your meals memorable. Have the kids help set the table & let them make handwritten place cards (my little girl loves this). Have fun themes for special occasions. Enjoy the time being together.
Plan a fun family weekend getaway: Whether it is to a town two hours away you have always wondered about, a local museum, amusement park, air show, train show, etc. Find out about fun activities going on around you. Try and stay within a few hours of your home and seek out great camp spots, art, music, watermarks, beaches, FUN!! Discuss with everyone where they would like to go and plan a weekend trip. Try to include at least one thing everyone would like to do—get a carmel apple, hike Mt. Timp, have breakfast at Kneaders, etc. Someone may want to sleep in or go on a hike, try to plan something that gets everyone excited for the weekend. Most importantly, have a great time together!!
Create family traditions: See my blog post on that.
Have a family night: Each week or at least once a month have a fun family night–play games, go to your favorite local pizzeria, get chinese take-out, visit the grocery store and buy all the ingredients for a new meal to try together. You can even shake it up and let someone in the family decide the activity and be in charge each week or each month.
Have Quiet time: No matter how old your children are, scheduled quiet time is a good idea. Set a specific time for everyone to turn off the television, computer, video games and either talk, read, tell a story, share things that were highlights from the day, things you appreciate about one another. Schedule a time that will not interfere with homework, friends or activities–most likely before bed or if you find it too hard—try it once a week on Saturday or Sunday morning. Take the time to tune out noise, to get quiet. We do a couple of different things…write in a family gratitude journal three things we were grateful for during the day. Then we either tell a story, read a book or a small devotional just before we go to sleep and then say a evening prayer of thanks for the day. We try to also schedule in reading and quiet time. An interesting fact: The CEO of Disney read for an hour a day when he was a child.
GETTING CREATIVE WITH YOUR FAMILY
Creativity is a celebration of one’s grandeur, one’s sense of making anything possible. ~Joseph Zinker
Look for inspiration in all you see and do: To believe and then truly see inspiration in all things is a gift indeed. Whether you notice the pattern of a leaf, see the texture of bark, watch the wind blow across a corn field, see a work of art in a winding stairwell or hear a song within the subway—look, listen and live the inspiration that is all around you. The textures, the colors, the shimmering beads, the torn magazine pages, the sky, the sand at the beach…inspiration is everywhere!
Take time to explore nature: When you step into nature there is a world of inspiration ready to unfold. Take the time to pick up pinecones, acorns, leaves and see their pattern and textures. Feel the grass, pick up feathers, touch the branches of a tree, watch the water glisten, draw in the sand.
Be inspired by all that is around you and begin to understand your smallness in the infinite & know inspiration and creativity are a gift. Embrace the very thought that you are creative and that you are creating with forces that are bigger than you can imagine. You are creating for many, you are giving of your gifts. Teach your family to feel within and take inspiration from all that is around them.
One fun thing about nature is the magic of possibilities. One thing my daughter and I did was collect little acorns, twigs, small pebbles, leaves, etc and made a special fairy house that she loves and adores. We will always have the treasured memory of finding things in nature and then making something magical.
Family drawing and writing time: I love this idea. Make time each week, or every day to sit down with your family and let go creatively. If someone wants to write or color, or paint…have some time around the table to chat, enjoy colors, look at flowers and create. Give opportunities to explore different mediums of chalks, charcoal, watercolors, calligraphy, ink, colored pencils, crayon, etc.
Family music time: This is fun. Let go. Either turn on some fun tunes and just dance, sing or play funny grooves on the keyboard. Let go!! Shine.
Display your family art pieces: Have a special area to display your art. Whether you pick your best and frame them or you have a special magnetic gallery, a hallway or book. Have a special place to enjoy your art. One thing I love to do is to save up ten of my little ones favorites from the year and then I scan them into my computer and have a special yearly book made with her beautiful art pieces and favorite photos from the year. I write a note of Thanks for her being in my life and for all the beauty and creativity that she shares and I give it to her for Thanksgivig. It is a special tradition with great meaning & it makes giving thanks even more memorable.
Family arts & crafts show: Have a annual or bi-annual family arts and craft show. Have extended family join in the fun and have a show. Make it a occasion with a brunch or goodies. Have all the grandkids share their art and explain the meaning of their piece of art. You could also have a small, personal family show for family night or a special occasion within your home.
Take pictures: This advice is good any time. Taking pictures is good for inspiration, memories, images you want to be creative with, or just want to share with those you love. There is beauty all around and photographs are a good way to capture your inspiration. Just have fun!
FUN FAMILY MOVIES
Movie night is always a classic fun at our house, so I am including some of our favorites and then a list from a few other sources. Enjoy!! Some of our favorites:
The Family Man (2000) is a great movie that is about a man who truly learns what is most important .
The Princess Protection Program (Disney 2009) is a great movie that teaches many good morales–kindness, believing in yourself, helping others, being princess like.
The Game Plan, Nancy Drew, Dreamer, Ever After, The Wizards of Waverly Place Movie (adventure), Nim’s Island, Nanny McPhee, The Parent Trap (old and new versions), Ella Enchanted, I could go on and on…The Kid, Freaky Friday, Tangled, and National Treasure Series (gets you thinking and kids interested in American history)…
According to Parents.com their Top 10 Family Movie Classics
1 Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) 2 Ella Enchanted (2004) 3 E.T. (1982) 4 Freaky Fiday (2003)
5 Harry Potter 6 The Sound of Music (1965) 7 Spy Kids (2001)
8 Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971) 9 Whale Rider (2003) 10 Wizard of Oz (1939)
An article from Belief.net lists Family Movies that Teach Values
This article lists: It’s A Wonderful Life (teaches responsibility), Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (teaches Integrity), A Man for All Seasons (teaches Courage), Babe (teaches Courtesy), Remember the Titans (teaches tolerance), Toy Story 2 (teaches loyalty), Akeelah and the Bee (teaches learning), War Games (teaches Peace), A Little Princess (teaches Helping Others), Holes (teaches Fairness)
According to IMDb they listed the top “Family Titles”. I will list their top 10 1. Up (2009) 2. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) 3. Wall-E (2008) 4. Anand (1971) 5. Some Like it Hot (1959) 6. Safety Last (1923) 7. Vuk (1981) 8. The Cameraman (1928) 9. The Wizard of Oz (1939) 10. The Kid (1921)
FUN FAMILY VACATIONS
Family vacations are a must to create happy family connections and memories. Here is a list according to TravelChannel.com — they listed their top ten family destinations as:
1. Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island, Bahamas 2. Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort, Snowbird, Utah (been here & love it!) 3. Tanque Verde Ranch, Tuscon, Arizona 4. Hilton Waikoloa Village in Hawaii 5. Kingsmill Resort, Williamsburg, Virginia 6. Circus, Circus, Las Vegas, Nevada 7. Out ‘n’ About Treesort, Takilma, Oregon 8. Club Med Ixtapa in Mexico 9. La Costa Resort in Carlsbad, CA 10. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, Orlando, Florida
Would love to hear about any of your family favorites. We just went to the Redwoods this past summer with our daughter and her cousin. They loved staying on the ocean (the cool Oregon coast, which can be sunny & then rainy–they loved it) and then visiting the giant Redwood trees. It was a great trip!!
A funny thing about kids is they just want to be together, having family quality time. We take our daughter to Disneyland each year, but when you ask her what her favorite trip is…she will say going to the Canadian Rockies (which it was fall & freezing) and staying in a tiny cabin on Moraine Lake where we had a fire and made a log cabin out of blocks. It is the quality time that really matters most.
No matter what you are doing, planning, or creating with your family, just take the time to incorporate being present and the moments will last a lifetime.
Cheers to your Happy Family.