Summer is in full swing and the perfect time to strengthen family relationships. Today I want to give you four resources for connecting with your kids during these next few months. These tips will boost not only your own mental health this summer, but your kids as well! I know summer can be just as busy as the school year so let’s build an intentional connection with our families.
Now why is this important? Do any of you follow Brooke Romney on Instagram? She is a writer and speaker who is just phenomenal. In one of her Instagram posts, she asked this question, is your teen struggling right now? Maybe they are struggling with something serious, but it could be simple, too! She recommended asking the following questions – are they getting enough sleep, are they drinking enough water…and my personal favorite – are they CONNECTING with people!
Now I loved this because it goes right along with what I learned in graduate school about human development and the hierarchy of needs. I’ve totally gone through these questions with my husband when we are discussing our children. Let’s be honest, I’ve used them on myself. Sometimes it is easier to eat nutritious food and drink a glass of water than to meaningfully connect, right?
As humans we NEED connection!
Social connection can:
- lower anxiety and depression,
- help us regulate our emotions,
- lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and
- actually improve our immune systems.
This is all information shared by the Canadian Health Association. I’d like to take it a step further to include family connections. There are studies by Emory University and the University of North Florida that talk about the importance of family stories and family narratives. In working with the 21-Day Family Connections Experiment, we have informally found that when families intentionally connect daily – their mood is boosted, they are happier, and their families are, too.
So what can we do to intentionally connect with our children this summer? Let’s make it easy! Here are a few ideas based on certain personality types:
1) For the Scheduler – My friend Beckee divides a paper into six squares and intentionally schedules in the six most important things to her family that week. For her that includes service, family meals, and fun family activities to look forward to. When I saw her schedule, I loved it. What a smart way to intentionally connect with your kids each week – build it into your schedule!
2) The Habit Maker – One of our goals at the 21-Day Family Connections experiment is to make connecting in meaningful and fun ways EASY FOR YOU. We’ve literally taken all the brain work out of it for you. We’ve come up with 21 days worth of simple and fairly fast activities that make it fun and easy to connect with your kids. Things like listening to music from your childhood, sharing highs and lows of the day at dinner time, showing your kids where you lived as a child on google maps, cooking favorite family recipes. Why 21 days? That’s how many days it takes to make a habit!
3) The Artist – I helped create this one last year and I love it. If you like doing color by numbers – this one’s for you, too! It’s a summer bucket list coloring poster where you color in a number every time you do a connection activity. Now this one is family history based. So there are fun activities that will help you connect with your heritage and your current family. This has things on it like sharing an old family photo on social media and asking your extended family to share theirs, too. Share a family story at dinner time. Check out old family photos and see who you look like. It’s only $2.99 and then you can print it off big at your local print shop.
4) The Spontaneous – Don’t worry, there’s a fun resource for the spontaneous, too. Over at connections-experiment.com, we have what we call the idea generator. There are over 100 connection ideas at your fingertips. You click a button and an idea pops up! These ways are very similar to above but singular. This could be something fun to do with the kids – before they do screen time – they click on the idea generator for an activity!
I hope these ideas and activities help boost your mood and connect with your family this summer!