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5 must-dos to make the most of family time together
5 things you can do with your kids to enjoy more family moments before they're gone. - photo by Breanna Phillips
Ask any empty nester about their time raising their children, and theyre likely to tell you that the time went by too fast. If youre in the thick of the craziness, dealing with sippy cups, diapers, and nap time fights, or arguing with your teenage daughter about how much makeup shes wearing, you might be dreaming of those quiet moments ahead. Or, perhaps, youre trying to figure out how you can get in a little family time around everyones busy schedules.

Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, family time is precious and irreplaceable. We can easily get into the daily grind and worries of our lives and forget to stop to enjoy the moments and create lasting memories. The poet, Mary Oliver, once asked: Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Take some time today, and every day, to create memories with your children and enjoy being together as a family. One day youll wish these crazy, exciting days were back.

1. Explore

Memories are amazing things. Theyre formed through using our sensestouch, taste, smell, hear, and seeto an event or even a moment.

Instead of another family movie night (although it has its perks), do something together as a family where children are encouraged to explore and use their senses. Go on a hike together, take them to hear an orchestra, build a sandcastle, roam a botanical garden, cook a new food, or take them to try a type of cuisine they havent tried. Children will build memories around those moments when their senses were engaged.

2. Teach mindfulness

Help the memories sink in even deeper by practicing and teaching your children the art of mindfulness. Lets get back to the five senses. When youre out and about, pay attention to what is happening around you and point them out to your children.

Young children will benefit from you encouraging them to notice all of the different colors they see, or what kind of sounds they can hear. You can even ask them how theyre feeling in the middle of the experience to get their thoughts and ideas on the experience.

Dont exempt older children from this experience. Take time to point out how tall the trees are, or the refreshing smell of pine. Encourage them to notice details about people, buildings, flowers, or to listen for rhythmic sounds while you ride the subway. Being aware of their surroundings and sensations will help solidify your family moments together in their minds.

3. Be present

We live in a digital world and are constantly interrupted by emails, texts, and other social media notifications. Between updating our Facebook status and posting pictures, we can easily find ourselves forgetting to be present in the moment. Although there is nothing wrong with wanting to post and share your pictures with family and friends, do it later when youre not in the midst of the experience. This is your time to simply enjoy being with your kids.

When they know you are all having fun together, and the fun stops so you can create the perfect caption, and choose the right filter, it is not lost on them that something became more important in that memory-making moment. By all means, snap some pics of your experience, but wait until its over to post all about the experience.

4. Focus on relationships

Just the act of doing something together is binding for family relationships, but make sure that what you are doing always has your familial relationships as the focus. The idea is to experience things together. Consider starting up a family hobby, something that everyone can regularly do together, whether its playing a sport, having fun with a board game, or an activity you always enjoy doing together.

The key to family time is to create something special between yourselves. Keep this time to family only and focus on each other. Another idea- create a family tradition that you can do regularly and your family will look forward to. Sometimes just setting aside a regular family night ensures that everyones busy schedules align for your memory making.

5. Enjoy the journey

Family memories are important, but they are not enough. There has to be a foundation of love and trust on which family memories are built. If youre struggling with trust or having a loving relationship with a family member, time will be the most important gift you can give.

Schedule some one-on-one time with the one who needs some extra care, and follow the above principles. Bring a child along while you run an errand, schedule a date just with him or her, or make a special occasion out of bringing them to work with you. Be invested in their interests and feelings and be respectful of emotional space they may require at first. This might take time, but its the most important time you can give.

The time you invest in your family will help to form a solid base upon which you can build powerful family memories together.