Families can be tough. Whether you’re separated by distance, or there’s too little space in your personal life without being asked prying details, it can be hard to navigate our family ties.
But these relationships and bonds are important to our lives and our overall health. As a healthcare professional, you can see the relief a patient feels when a loved one comes to check on them; you see the pain when bad news is shared. The deep connection among relatives, or even with a person’s chosen family, can make all the difference.
If your family bond is strong but you want to strengthen it, or if things are tense and you’d like to improve the health of these relationships, here are a few ideas to try.
Talk it out.
If you’re a busy working parent who feels like you’re sacrificing time with your family, make a point to have a device-free family dinner at least once a week (to start). Sit together and talk to each other over your meal. Talk about anything and everything — school, sports, music, TV, movies, anything that might be a shared interest or something they might enjoy. It doesn’t need to be deep, heavy conversation; it can be light and fun. But having these conversations, talking to each other and listening, can help all of you feel like you’re learning more about each other. If you have the opportunity, try to have one-on-one conversations as well to further deepen those bonds.
Do something fun together.
We’re getting deeper into fall and that means there are so many activities for families to do together. If you live in an area where there are apple orchards, why not go to one and pick your own? Or drive out and buy some pre-picked apples, then sit together and enjoy some. It’s also prime pumpkin time; selecting pumpkins and then decorating them, with paint or by carving, is a fun activity with just the right amount of mess and organized chaos. If you’re in a more city environment, why not take time to go to a park and walk around together, pointing out the changing scenery as fall unfolds? Maybe there’s a sporting event you can go to together, cheering on your home team to victory. All else fails, there’s always movie or game nights!
Work together on something.
Remember during the pandemic, when people were spending more time at home, it was a common family activity to get out puzzles and put them together as a group. Why not do that again? Or maybe there’s a home improvement project you’ve wanted to do for some time but haven’t been able to get around to it; why not break it down into pieces and give everyone a job? This way, the project gets finished and everyone has some ownership, which will translate into a sense of pride when the job is accomplished.
Break out the photos.
When was the last time your family looked at photos together? Or the last time you took photos together? Find a photo album or open up a digital gallery and spend some time going through photos from a trip or special event. Talk about what you remember, what made you laugh, what surprised you or unexpectedly made you happy. It’s great to hear all the different little moments your family picked up from the same places — maybe something you loved about that day was completely forgotten by someone else or vice versa! This reinforces your shared history together and the good times you’ve shared and helps reconnect with those good feelings. It might even inspire trying to make new memories together in a fun way!
Take the time to show appreciation.
There are many ways to show someone you care about them and you’re thinking of them. Start a family notebook (or whiteboard) in which you share positive notes with each other. It doesn’t need to be a novel or even an everyday activity; it can be as quick as “My son held the door for me this morning and I appreciate his kind heart,” or “I’m so grateful that our house is noisy because that means it’s filled with life and laughter.” Call out good grades, winning games, improved attitudes, the introduction of a new song, meeting new friends, anything at all can be enshrined in this way! Sometimes it’s also easier for people to write out their positive emotions and feelings towards one another than it is to say them.
When we know the people we surround ourselves with see us, and like us, for who we are, and that we can reciprocate that affection and caring, it makes everyone feel better. When we’re feeling better, our stress levels decrease and we can be more present in our lives, allowing us to be better caregivers and more attentive colleagues. This might feel a little awkward at first, but everything worth doing takes time and a little practice. The rewards will be wonderful!
If spending time with the people who matter most to you makes you think about having more time to do that, consider changing to a job that offers you better hours and maybe more paid time off. AMEA Healthcare can help! Take a look at the jobs we have open right now and see if one might be a better fit for your life. When something sparks your interest, give AMEA a call and let’s talk about it!