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June is National Family Month — an excellent time to reflect on your own family, and to find ways to make your bond even stronger. It is all too easy to get caught up in the mundane obligations of day-to-day life, and to forget about what is really important in life, both for parents and children. In June, remember that having fun, getting active, and bonding together have an enormous positive impact on the mental and physical health of all family members.
What can you do to celebrate your family's bond and help it grow even stronger, in June and beyond?
Teach Your Child A New Sporty Skill — Or Learn Something New Yourself
Why not work on mastering, or even beginning, a new sporty skill with children of any age this month? This will give you a bonding experience, and will work on the family's physical health at the same time.
I recently taught my daughter to ride a bike. I will never forget the fun we had during the process, and I think she will remember it forever too. She mastered an important skill, but the experience offered both of us so much more than that. It was an activity for just the two of us, that required complete trust on both sides. We were both so proud when my daughter finally got it right, and the fact that we both did a lot of exercise lifted our moods.
Cycling is a great example of a skill you can teach your child, but there are many others. Swimming, roller skating, ice skating, and even games like soccer (along with basic rules) are wonderful things parents can work on together with their fairly young children.
Families with older kids and teens can learn a new skill or try out a new activity together. Have you ever tried climbing, rafting, paintball, or self-defense classes? You can try any activity that is totally new and appeals to all family members, and be guaranteed to have bundles of fun. You'll also get your heart rate up, burn some calories, and perhaps lose some weight. If you all love your new sport, consider making it a regular activity.
Commit To Eating Dinner As A Family
Enormous amounts of research reveal the many benefits of eating dinner together as a family, as often as possible. Family dinners will give all of you much more than a (hopefully!) health meal on a regular basis, though that alone is extremely valuable.
Most people are aware of some of the benefits of family dinners, but life can get in the way and make you eat your meals at separate times, outside of the home, or while you're checking your emails. You may see an awful lot of changes in your family dynamics if you commit to eating dinner together at least four times a week — and the more you turn dinner into a family experience, the more you will get out of it.
You could start by planning dinner together, once a week. Then, make sure to involve all family members, from the littlest to the oldest, in preparing dinner in some way. Even young kids can help with washing or cutting vegetables, or preparing simple foods like pancakes and pasta. Family members who don't have time to help make dinner because of work, school or sports commitments may well be able to pick ingredients up at the grocery store another time. Make it a team effort!
Dinner-time itself can be a time to talk about your day and to discuss important issues, like current affairs or family vacations. Young children will learn all about healthy eating habits, and increase their vocabulary during dinner-time conversations. Older children actually do better in school if they eat dinner with their family regularly, and they are at a lower risk of becoming obese. Teens are less likely to engage in risky behaviors, and feel a stronger family connection. Family dinners are, in short, crucial for physical as well as mental health.