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Family Rituals and Routines--Good Times Even in Bad Times


by Cathy Paper

Set your family up to create a powerful, close knit, loving family best despite challenging economic times, job loss or the general stress of a busy family life.

Families go faster than ever these days. Whether it's the demands of work, technology, or after-school activities, family members are simultaneously pulled in multiple directions. This can create challenges for even the most stable family, and turn all those desires for a happy, healthy, cohesive, energetic family into a distant dream. Get out of stress mode and avoid the short-fused temper tantrums that come when a family is moving too fast. Get back to the basics of spending time together, talking to each other face to face, and eating meals from the stove.

Here are six ideas to keep the family patterns strong and build a stable foundation for everyone's growth and well being:

1. Family mealtime. Eat together at least three nights a week or one weekend lunch. Set the table and sit together. Give everyone a roll in preparing the meal and spend at least five minutes talking about what you liked or what you learned during the day. Bring show and tell once a week to keep the conversation lively.

2. Get outside together. Ride bikes, hit the park with a ball and a bat, whack tennis balls. 
Exercising together establishes great habits and is a free way for your family to bond. Some families are even doing yoga together as a way to wind down at the end of the day.

3. Take it head on. Talk about any challenges your family is experiencing. Kids know 
what is going on. If you have lost a job or are having work challenges, they know. They are very perceptive. Most kids learn great skills at school by having to address tough situations. These tools might even help a stressed out grown-up keep life in perspective.

4. Create a family theme song. Encourage everyone to find a song that represents the family. Take a vote on which one suits your family. This could even work well at family reunions.

5. Think about others. Volunteer. There are organizations where families can work
together to help others. This gives your kids a great experience and is a fun way to give back.

6. Stay home. Try a night with no extra-curricular activities. No chores, no TV. See if you can come up with a new activity that allows your family to slow down, connect, and laugh together. How about family game night or a cooking contest? Get creative. It was recently Earth Hour, an idea that the Australians came up with. My kids raced around the house turning off all the lights, the TV, and lighting candles. We sat together and talked. They liked it so much, we're doing it monthly.

Whatever you decide, these are just a few ideas to get you started. Every family needs some routines that get them talking, keep them connected, and create those bonds that last a lifetime. In today's economy, turning to family for comfort, laughter, and a few new activities is a good way to focus on what matters most. A night or two where you're laughing with loved ones will put all those economic or job worries in perspective.

Cathy Paper is the founder of a Performance Coaching firm that takes speakers and authors to the next level with their products. She also specializes in helping organizations energize their workforce. She plays tennis with her three kids and husband when she's not running her dog Stella. Cathy can be reached at cathypaper@mac.com.

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