The phrase ‘families that play together, stay together’ conjures up images, for me at least, reminiscent of The Waltons or Little House on the Prairie that many remember for their portrayal of family perfection often considered unattainable by most. In reality though, with the world consumed with technology and our schedules getting busier every day, perhaps we need to, to some extent, take note of the values upheld by such beloved characters and incorporate their view of togetherness into our daily lives.
Whilst it can be argued that technology is enhancing our lives in one way, the distraction it provides means that we are often living a life disassociated from the world around us, preferring to interact online over creating meaningful relationships and memories in ‘real life’. With the rise of social media engagement, we are more connected than ever yet, adversely, are becoming lonelier too with depression, anxiety and suicide rates at an all-time high.
Creating real connections away from our smart phones may hold the key to creating, firstly, a happier family and, in turn, a happier, healthier and stronger society as a whole.
Small changes implemented into our current lives can really help us on our way to creating a stronger family unit and essentially an overall happier life.
- Be together
Perhaps the most important way to create a happier family is to be together as a family, not just in body but in mind too. Set aside some time every day, uninterrupted from distractions and spend time together. A great time to do this is dinner time; we all have to eat so why not re-evaluate the time already set aside for this part of your day and use it to better effect.
- Pick a hobby
Whether it’s a casual kick of the footy, getting your hands dirty in your vege patch or supporting your local sporting team, pick a hobby that the whole family loves and look forward to. If you’re all invested in your activity, you’re more likely make the time to do it, bond as a family and create some great memories.
- Have Fun
They say laughter is the best medicine and this is true for giving your family’s happiness a boost too. It’s hard to think about having fun when were busy, stressed and just down right tired but encouraging your family to laugh, joke and not take life too seriously leads to a more joy-filled home which leads to happier individuals who are more likely to function together as a happy family.
- Encourage Kindness and Be Considerate
When people feel valued, they are more likely to contribute positively to a group. The family unit is, for most of us, the first group in which we are included and thus it is important we feel part of it. Christmas is the perfect time for instilling this value into your family; giving meaningful gifts is a great way to show your loved ones that they are treasured members of the family.
Prioritise and Make Time
It is easy to put family time on the backburner in favour of doing more ‘important’ things. But prioritising spending time as a family could be one of the most important things you do. Families that prioritise making time for one another have greater solidity, communicate better with one another and adapt well to new challenges.
And, having a happy home life can directly impact other areas of your life. Investing in family time is investing in your happiness, success and outlook on life in general and, thus, leads to a happier, more harmonious society for us all.
P.A.R.E.N.T. – The Danish Way
Denmark is considered the happiest country in the world (Australia comes in ninth!) and parenting experts have spent countless hours analysing their lifestyle to determine just what make the Danes so content. We’ve uncovered their six simple steps to guide parents on how to cultivate lasting happiness. And the ironic acronym used to remember the six pillars of this philosophy is… PARENT.
P is for PLAY
Children learn through play and parents can learn a lot by joining in. Play together. Laugh together. Explore together.
A is for AUTHENTICITY
Children may be little but they deserve everything that adults do, including honesty. Be up front with your kids. Be real.
R is for REFRAMING
This is a powerful mind tool that, essentially, works by focusing on the positive, even in the worst situations. Sure, it’s hard to flip being awake at 3am with a screaming baby into a positive thing but it can be possible – accept it as reality, focus on the softness and the sweetness of your baby and find gratitude in the fact that you have the capability to be a mother in the first place. This is reframing. And it can change your life.
E is for EMPATHY
Children are born with natural empathy and it is up to us to nurture this by leading by example, showing kindness to others and thinking about others’ feelings.
N is for NO ULTIMATUMS
“Either you clean your room or you will lose your iPad.” This is a common sentence in my household but one that the Danes don’t believe in.
No-ultimatum parenting is about avoiding power struggles. It’s about giving children choice rather than pushing them in a certain direction and punishing their decision.
T is for TOGETHERNESS
Through this togetherness families create a special bond of comfort, security and, most importantly, love.
The Happy Country Report
- New Zealand
From: United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
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