Hudson Valley Parent

HVP December 2019

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Page 28 of 43 n Hudson Valley Parent 29 Unplug after 5 p.m. Work, emails, social media and random texts often interrupt family time unnecessarily. Except for online homework or a FaceTime call with Grandma, there are few reasons for families to spend their evenings star- ing into their phones. Make a habit of unplugging before dinner and keep your family's communications face-to-face. Practice random acts of kindness. Doing a kindness to someone, especially a person that doesn't expect it, can make the giver and receiver feel good. Help the peo- ple in your house by doing a chore without being asked or handing the TV remote to someone else. Plan date nights. Remember that it is equally important for fam- ilies to have one-on-one time with each other. This is true for the adults in the family as well as Mom-and- Me dates with each child. Be sure to double the family fun by planning a special evening at home for those staying behind. Slow down. There is something to be said of the families of yester- year who sat around the radio, lis- tening to stories and imagining the characters. Try to recreate the same impact by listening to an audiobook on a CD while piecing a colorful puzzle together. By PAM MOLNAR A ccording to a recent survey, the average family spends only 34 minutes together on a typical weekday. If you are surprised to find that your family fits into that statis- tic, there is no need to panic. Like freshly fallen snow, winter gives us a chance at new beginnings. Taking advantage of winter's slower pace allows us to reconnect with each other. For cold-weather inspiration, here are few ideas. Volunteer together. Working for a cause brings families closer. Whether you have been touched by a foundation's work or just want to make a difference, it is an enriching and appreciated way to spend time as a family. Share in creativity. Gather around the kitchen table and work on coloring pages. Build Lego houses or take a painting class together. Expressing yourself through art not only helps relieve stress, but it is also a fun activity and can be done again. Go outside. Take a family bike ride on sunny days or play soccer in the backyard. If you live near snow, build a snowman. If it's raining, grab your umbrella and take a walk. Breathing in the fresh air clears the mind of everyday distractions and makes room for new memories. Cook together. Think back to the holidays when everyone prepared a meal together that you all enjoyed. Sharing dinner prepa- rations helps picky eaters see what goes into meals and gives the usual cook a few helping hands. Spark dinner conversa- tions. Go beyond "How was your day?" to ask thought-provoking questions like, "What features do you think will be on cars in ten years?" Or play a game to see how well everyone knows each other by asking questions like, "Who knows the name of Joey's tutor?" or "What is Dad's title at work?" Schedule you-plan-it nights. Once a week, have one per- son plan the family's night together. The person can choose the dinner menu and a budget-friendly activity. Even school-aged children can make a shopping list from a recipe and look online for movie times. Set a goal and work on it together. Have everyone set a personal goal and do weekly dinner check-ins to see how each person is doing. Share the ups and downs of your progress and ask your family for support or suggestions. Visit with the extended family. Continue growing your family's ties after the holidays are over. Plan outings with cousins, make a dinner-date with aunts and uncles or regular game nights the siblings. If you live far apart, try a Friday night FaceTime or play video games together by using a Wi-Fi connection. For links to cold-weather hikes in the Hudson Valley and sharing through #GivingTuesday, visit Pam Molnar is a freelance writer and mother of three. The family likes to reconnect over home- cooked meals and board games. Follow her on Pam's Party Print - ables on Etsy. Bring your family closer Winter resolutions inspire togetherness and family time

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