Close families don’t just happen. They are built. If you’re deliberate, you can increase your family’s loyalty and love for one another this summer! Here are 5 simple ways to take advantage of the summer months to bring your family closer than ever before.

Summer is already ticking away, so let’s get going!

(If you have more time to listen than read, just click on the audio bar below!)

 

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#1. Share family stories!

Why is this number one on my list? Because research shows that kids who know their family stories are more resilient when difficulties come along. In one study, kids who knew more about their own family history had:

  • More sense of control over their lives;
  • Higher self-esteem;
  • Greater belief that their families were successful.

Get more information at: The Power of Family Stories: 20 Questions You Should Ask Now.

This summer make it a weekly tradition to share family stories with your kids. We’ve made it easy by giving you a list of 20 “Do You Know” questions you can ask your kids.

Here are just a few questions to get you started:

  • Do you know where your grandparents grew up?
  • Do you know where your parents went to high school?
  • Do you know where your parents met?
  • Do you know about an illness or something really terrible that happened in your family?
  • Do you know the story of your birth?

To get all 20 questions in an easy-to-print pdf, click on the box below:

#2. Play a new game together

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You may have noticed that there’s been a huge explosion of new board games. Board games get families interacting without digital distractions. They can be a powerful way to increase connection. Where to start? We’ve got a list of 23 games in the following categories to check out:

  • Family Games of All Ages
  • Families with kids ages 8-10 and up
  • A game for a big group
  • Silly and fun games
  • All around great games

Get the list with Amazon links by going to this blog post: 23 Family Games for Guaranteed Holiday Fun. (Pssst…these games are fun all year round!)

#3. Avoid the summer complaints by using a gratitude journal

Sometimes kids get cranky in the summer. Or bored. They’re out of their normal routine and it can be discombobulating! Summer is a great time to help kids develop the habit of gratitude.

Research proves that people who purposely pause to write down what they are grateful for 3 weeks in a row have higher happiness scores even 6 months later! There are a host of other positive outcomes for intentionally remembering to feel gratitude. Count your blessings is a prescription for positivity! And even increased will power, better immune system function, improved sleep and a decreased risk of suicide! Wow!

Here’s my video where I share some of the research on the power of gratitude. (Find out how to get your FREE 21-day Gratitude Journal below.)

In our post 3 Secrets of Strong, Happy Kids (Pssst! It’s Gratitude!) we provide more reasons why a 21-day Gratitude Journal can be so life changing! Help your kids overcome the negative forces in their lives by giving them a boost of gratitude this summer! You can download a copy for your family by clicking on the box below. Get it now!

#4. Plan a weekly get-to-know-you session with our list of 23 fun questions

We know how important connection is for healthy functional families. Deep connections help kids turn to their parents when they need support (like, um, pretty much everyday!). And sometimes all it takes is making sure you listen to your kids. We’ve created a list of 23 fun questions that will spur some very fun conversations! They aren’t deep, dark intimidating questions–no one will feel threatened or uncomfortable. These are great for asking around the dinner table, in the car on a road trip, or anytime you’re together and want to have some stress-free laughs.

Get your free download now by clicking below:

#5. Make a Summer Bucket List and bulletin board

If you write it, chances are you’ll do it! Even better, get your kids to contribute! Here’s an idea from Hannah, our millennial mom graphic artist: Put up a summer bulletin board and pin the list to it. Then pin mementos of all of the things you do that are on your Summer Bucket List (movie ticket stubs, post cards, menus, etc.). It’s an ongoing collection reminding you of all your summer fun!

Here are 17 ideas for your bucket list.

  1. Find something new and try it together as a family. It can be as simple as trying a new flavor of ice cream or a little more adventurous like finding a puzzle or escape room in your town. [An escape room is a physical adventure game in which players solve a series of puzzles using clues, hints and strategy to complete the objectives at hand. Players are given a set time limit to unveil the secret plot which is hidden within the rooms. Escape rooms are inspired by “escape-the-room”–style video games.] The point is that everyone is trying something new together!
  2. Help someone. Helping kids give back is a priceless gift. Go to JustServe.org to find out what your community needs.
  3. Bake and Take. Bake a treat and bring it to a friend or neighbor–don’t forget a handmade card!
  4. Make up a play. Act out a favorite story…even a family story!
  5. Put on a luau and have your kids learn a hula dance.
  6. Make an obstacle course (inside or out!)
  7. Devise a treasure hunt complete with a map. Invite the neighbors!
  8. Paint Lady-bug or Bumble Bee rocks.
  9. Plan a tea party (great way to practice table manners!)
  10. Make a spaceship by painting a big cardboard box.
  11. Build a campfire and make s’mores.
  12. Go and U-pick fruit or berries at a local orchard or farm.
  13. Visit a planetarium (or borrow a telescope!)
  14. Visit a farmer’s market and let each child find one new fruit or veggie to try.
  15. Search online for local activities with this search phrase: Family activities [name of town/city] or Things to do [name of town/city].
  16. Visit a thrift store. Give each child a small amount of money and let them find an outfit. When you get home, put on a fashion show!
  17. Hold a Joke-a-thon! Get joke books from the library and take turns telling jokes!

Now go and make that Summer Bucket List and don’t let the crazy, lazy, hazy days of summer pass you by!

Kristen Jenson
Kristen A. Jenson is the founder of Protect Young Minds and author of Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today's Young Kids. Kristen enjoys speaking, writing and anything else that will help empower kids to reject pornography. Kristen earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature, and a master’s degree in Organizational Communication. Kristen currently lives with her husband in Washington State, where she enjoys growing a vegetable garden, watching Masterpiece Theater, and taking long walks with friends who tolerate her incessant talking about you know what. Above all else, her husband and three children are her greatest treasures.
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