Life can be hectic, and it may seem as if each family member is pulled in different directions due to work, school, social and extracurricular commitments. One way to improve family communication and keep everyone informed is to implement family meetings on a regular basis.

To start, plan to hold family meetings once a week (for at least 20 minutes in duration) during a time convenient for the family. All members of the household who consider themselves family should attend the meetings. Next, determine a location that is free from distraction and a time that works with everyone’s schedule. Establish a routine in this location and time each week.

Initially, start with a short agenda that can be lengthened as your routine develops. The topic of the first meeting can be discussing the family meeting or planning a fun family activity for the week. A parent should start off leading the meetings, but later this task can be passed to the children. You can add roles for other family such as secretary or timekeeper.

You may choose to start the meeting with a round of compliments or talking about something from your day you are grateful for. Other agenda items may include calendars or scheduling time, family business, chores, and allowance. Other optional activities include prayer, music sessions, sharing talents or life skills lessons. The family meeting concept allows you to create a family meeting that best fits the personality of your family. To close the family meeting you may decide to share a family treat or special snack.

The goals of the family meeting are not only to improve communication but also to increase family unity, increase family cooperation, decrease conflict, increase mutual respect and love, as well as increasing family organization. Feel free to adapt the outline that best fits your family needs.

Can you have a “night out” without leaving the comfort of your home? Sure!

Despite how much we may yearn for our sweats when we are working away from home all day, they may get old eventually.

Lots of us have fun weekend outings we look forward to all week long where we can dress up and get out to do something cultured or meaningful to us. This COVID-19 quarantine situation may offer an opportunity to have the best of both worlds!

Set a date with your family where you all shower, dress up, do your hair and makeup, and meet on the couch at a certain time. Agree on some virtual options for your night out in your living room. Lots of museums are giving virtual tours, student performers are posting their cancelled performances, and zoos are offering learning opportunities for the whole family!

Use some of these links to get started and enjoy your “night out—but in!”

For some family fun with your teen, have a “Chopped” Cooking Competition!

Most of us have heard of the Food Network’s cooking competition show, “Chopped,” where four chefs face off against one another to prepare an amazing three-course meal consisting of an appetizer, entrée and dessert. The catch is that they have to use only the ingredients the show provides them.

You can have your own version of a cooking competition using only ingredients in your house! (Make sure to make participants aware of any “off limits” ingredients.)

Set a timer, designate one family member to be the judge, and the rest of you can start cooking to compete for the best dish in the house!

When your family sits down to try the dishes, get conversation “cooking” too with these questions:

  • Share what you liked best about the experience.
  • What was difficult about the challenge?
  • What would you have changed about the meal you prepared?
  • Talk about your favorite food.
  • What types of dishes would you like to create next?

Empathy is valuing other people’s feelings and opinions. During times of stress, we want to stay connected to our family and not treat them in a harsh way. A great way to show your family some love is by “Brown Bagging It.”

The following exercise comes from the Reconnecting Youth (RY) program. It is an evidence-based program offered by Youth First.

  • For this daily practice, all you need is a small brown paper bag, paper, crayons or markers, and a writing utensil.
  • Write down positive statements about each family member daily.
  • Be sure to include weekly achievements!
  • Collect all statements in the brown paper bag.
  • Be as creative as you like with your bag and notes of affirmation.
  • Feel free to read the notes at the end of the day or at least at the end of the week for a quick smile and stress reducer.
  • Hint: A great time to share notes of affirmation is during family meal time.

Expressing gratitude is proven to help individuals experience more positive emotions, improve their mental health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. Take time to complete this scavenger hunt; think about each object you find and the positive role it plays in your daily life.

  • Find something outside you enjoy looking at
  • Find something that is useful to you
  • Find something that is your favorite color
  • Find something you know someone else will really enjoy (And show them!)
  • Find something that makes YOU happy
  • Find something that tastes yummy
  • Find something that smells amazing
  • Discover something new
  • Find something or someplace that makes you feel safe
  • Find something that makes a beautiful sound
  • Find someone you are grateful for
  • Find something that is unique to you
  • Find something that makes you laugh
  • Find something in the night that you enjoy
  • Find something in the morning that brings you happiness
  • Find a friend, family member or pet that you enjoy being with
  • Find your favorite place to spend alone time
  • Find something that reminds you of the people you love
  • Find something you enjoy doing outside with friends
  • Find a place that you love

Source: Natural Beach Living

Everyone becomes overwhelmed at times! When our emotions become intense, it’s difficult to think through making positive decisions.

Luckily, there are steps we can take when we are feeling over whelmed. These steps will help us get to a level of calm in which we can make healthy and positive decisions. Both of these skills are used in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT).

Download the PDF and follow along in these activities.

Mandalas are traditionally used in many eastern spiritual traditions as a tool to aid meditation.

The object is to create a circle of memories and to spend time learning about what each family member holds as a significant memory for them. This activity is used to build communication, acceptance, and deeper connection.

Task: Establish an area in your home that is available for creating a large circle (i.e. table, floor space, etc.) 

  1. Each person in the home should spend some time going through old photos, trinkets, keepsakes, jewelry, letters, etc. Each person must come back with at least 5 items of significance that mean something or hold a memory of someone special to them. 
  2. Each person will go around and describe their first item and what significance it holds for them (one at a time). You will then place your first item down. 
  3. Then each person will move onto their next item until all 5 items have been explained  by each person. 

Have fun connecting and creating a circle of love and memories! 

Source: Therapist Aid

Feelings are part of everyone’s daily lives. Learning to express our feelings as well as read others’ feelings is essential for our well-being. Download the PDF and follow along in these three fun activities.

Parent-child relationships can start being strained as your adolescent navigates junior high and the process of growing up. You may find yourself fighting with your kid more often. Below are some helpful things to keep in mind! 

  • Before you begin, ask yourself why you feel upset. 
  • Discuss one issue at a time. 
  • No degrading language. 
  • Express your feelings with words and take responsibility. 
  • Take turns talking. 
  • No stonewalling (refusing to talk). 
  • No yelling. 
  • Take a time-out if things get too heated. o Allow yourself time to cool off before talking. 
  • Attempt to come to a compromise. 

The worksheet in the PDF is for each parent and adolescent to fill out their own. Then sit and listen as you read to each other. Use the skills above to understand the other’s perspective and talk through the conflict. 

Source: Therapist Aid