When our children are little it seems that every day is family day. So much so, that often parents just cant wait to get away from the house for a bit to retrieve any last shreds of sanity that they have left. But as the children grow it becomes obvious that there is a great deal of importance of family days that help to build the familial bridges and keep one another in touch with the other. As days become filled with school, work and outside activities it can become rare that the whole family is home together to enjoy a meal or watch a favorite show on TV while being in the same room.
When our kids are little they completely take advantage of getting to spend so much time with mom and dad. We take them to the park, the zoo, out for lunch and to playgroups or story times relishing in their cute little accomplishments and spending all of our time devoted to being together. Then, almost suddenly as they enter school parents begin to revert back to their old ways of doing things and spend less and less time actually being together. We no longer go to the zoo or circus thinking that our children are too old and won’t enjoy it any longer. The sad truth is that few kids remember what they did before they were 4 or 5 down the road of life. The important memories are made afterwards. Although you can look back and show them pictures of their outings and family days together they will have no recollection of the events, the laughter or the way it felt to be together.
This seems to indicate that when you have older children the importance of family days becomes even more instrumental. The problem then becomes that when you try to create a family day you are met with rolling eyes, shrugs and issues because your plans have interfered with theirs. The thing to do is persevere! Make your plans and force everyone to go along whether they think it is stupid or not. Make them go to the park or out to dinner. Make them watch a movie together. Initially they might fight and leave you wondering why you wanted everyone together in the first place, but keep focused; you are making memories here! Years down the road they will remember the fish that they caught at the lake or the way little sis fell off the tire swing into the murky pond. They will remember hitting dad in the nose with a volleyball and will laugh and smile (even if just to themselves) about some little something that has made it into their mental filing cabinet.
The importance of family days is that as everyone who lives under one roof changes with the tidal pool of age; they will all at least stay connected against the waves of indifference that are apt to occur from time to time. Sometimes being together as a family can mean everyone lying around on a weekend morning in their pajamas waiting to eat scrambled eggs and bacon for breakfast.
Eventually when you have demanded family days enough times and the kids and spouse indulge you by going along; the ritual will become a habit. It will just be a broad spectrum knowing across the board that certain days of the week or month are designated to some silly time being together and each of your family members in their own way will begin to look forward to the event. Family days do not mean that vast amounts of money need be spent of endless hours planning must go into the task. It might be a good idea to let everyone in the home write down a few things they would like to do together and put them in a jar. Each time family day comes someone can blindly pick out an activity and it will force the family to make the most of everything. This way younger and older children as well as parents can share in each others interests and each person will be responsible for having a say in what the family does together.
It can be surprising how easily and comfortable it can be to fall back into the ease of family life. Sitting on a front porch near sun set, rocking in chairs and chatting without the interference or disruption of the TV, radio or phone can be a relaxing way to regroup and reconnect with one another. After a while it is easy to forget how it sounds to hear your children laugh, or see you spouse smile or enjoy the simple pleasure of being with those you love. By keeping the importance of family days at the forefront of your lifestyle all of this will come back and shortly the time together will be treasured and looked forward to.
Most of us adults reminisce in our minds about things from our growing up years. We can remember blueberries and milk on a summer afternoon or taking the john boat to the local lake for some early morning fishing. There are memories of favorite restaurants and humorous things that have happened in the past. Sometimes scary memories or adventures can make us look back and realize just how good we had it growing up. Just like our own kids, we never realized it while we were living it. That is a sad but true reality of life. As adults and parents it is our job to mold the memories for our own children and ensure that when they do look back they will see all the good times (and bad, funny, sad, crazy or wild) that they were privileged to growing up. Creating that for our family is the real importance of maintaining family days in your home.