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Enjoy Magazine

Make the Most of Your Time Together

03/25/2015 07:43AM ● By Kimberly Boney

Family Bonding

April 2015
By Kimberly Boney

Busy parents may worry that they are working so hard to provide for their children that they sacrifice time with them to do so. The age-old question rings true in the heart of moms or dads as they watch their child grow from an infant to a young adult, seemingly overnight: Did I spend enough time showing them how much I care? Take heart, there, Mom and Dad. You may not have oodles of time to spend, but you can make that quality time count by enjoying precious moments together.

Everyone has a signature dish, something that everyone raves over at birthday parties and family functions. Why not give everyone a chance to shine at the dinner table? If you are feeling adventurous, pick a theme for dinner (Mediterranean or Caribbean, anyone?). Let each family member research a recipe and create a dish accordingly. If keeping it simple is more your family’s speed, prepare tried-and-true favorites. Teenagers can navigate safely in the kitchen. Have younger children play sous chef for the older ones, set the table with their own creative flair, or take everyone’s food order with a note pad and a pencil. Turn off the TV, turn on soft dinner music, light some candles and let your family treasure the moments shared around a good meal together.

Nothing brings people together quite the way music can. It has a way of getting into the heart and soul of all of us, one happy note at a time. Who cares if you can’t carry a tune or your kids aren’t what might be called “musically inclined” by nature? You can still get down with your bad selves and make some beautiful music together. If you have instruments, bring them out. If you don’t, use your imagination. Pots and pans double as a pretty nifty drum set. Rice and beans in a plastic container make perfect homemade maracas. A wooden spoon will do just fine as a microphone. The most important instrument is fun. And you’ve got plenty of that. Bonus cool points if you put it on YouTube and let the world enjoy.

Have you ever just needed some fresh air? We all do. Taking a nature walk with your family can have such a positive effect on everyone’s mood. There are plenty of scenic routes in the North State to take in, so round up the gang and take off. Collect wildflowers, twigs, pinecones, rocks and leaves as you stroll and make a unique centerpiece for your coffee table with your findings. Make an afternoon of it with a picnic lunch and a blanket. Watch the sun go down together. Take a family selfie (also known as an “usie”) so that even on hectic days, you’ll have a reminder of this perfect afternoon.

It’s always nice to take a trip down memory lane. Those ridiculous yearbook photos and dog-eared perfect attendance awards are precious physical reminders of where you have been and how far you have come. Gather your brood and make a new book of memories together. Sift through old photos, newspaper clippings and school art projects together and create a scrapbook that you can enjoy for years to come. Ask each family member to create a few pages to contribute to the book. If you want a more current take on your family, have everyone dress in their favorite outfit (it doesn’t have to be anything stressful or fancy) and take turns snapping fun photos of each other. Jot down a silly story or your favorite family sayings to go along with the photos. Many photo printing websites offer memory books that not only include images, but also the option to add personalized messages to accompany them for around $30. And there you have it - your family’s story — professionally printed and bound, ready for a lifetime of sharing.

Who says you can’t bond with your family while doing something kind for others? Joyful moments can be teachable ones, too. Sign your family up to serve food at a local shelter, participate in a walk or run for a non-profit organization, shop for a local family in need, or take a few hours to take care of an elderly neighbor’s yard together. There are so many ways to show love to others while working as a family unit. Can’t seem to settle on the method of kindness? Have each member of the family put their idea down on paper and toss them into a hat and pick this month’s recipient of a kind deed. Follow suit until everyone’s idea has been realized. Make it a tradition. And then, dear parents, watch the seeds of kindness and love blossom in your children as they find the joy that comes from thinking outside of themselves.