Staying close to family members has become more and more difficult. Children no longer grow up and build a home of their own on the family farm or down the street from their parents. Even with the technology available today it can be difficult to find the time necessary to e-mail, text, and call family members who are not in our daily lives. It seems that we are always busy, running from one project or task to the other, pick-ups and drop-offs, errands and parties.
Having a relationship with extended family is incredibly important to me. Unfortunately, my husband’s family is not nearly as close as mine, so it’s up to me to teach my children how to reach out to family and build a relationship. Here are some tips that have worked in my household:
1. Feel Free to Skip a Generation: So often children only see their grandparents or great-aunts and uncles when they visit with their parents. Sticking to this model requires coordinating three schedules. Teens, why not stop by your relatives house on your own? Parents, take your own little ones and visit with your grandparents. Don’t wait for your parents to ask or suggest the get-together!
2. Aim for Facetime: Rather than just cram in a few minutes of phone time, try to find a chance to sit down with your relatives and spend time with them face to face. Scheduling face time forces you to focus on this quality time together and shifts you out of multi-tasking mode.
3. Combine Trips: My family recently travelled to a neighboring state to visit my brother and his family for the weekend. In order to maximize our time with family, we simply shortened our original plans by a couple of hours and threw in a trip to visit my husband’s elderly grandmother.
4. Start a Tradition: Make it clear to your children now while they’re young that family is important. Children need to be taught that loved ones are worth spending time with and making sacrifices for. After all, don’t you want them to visit you in your golden years, bringing your grandchildren and great-grandchildren with them? Invest the time now – you’ll be thankful in the years to come.