Archives for December 2016

3 Steps to an Amazing Family Life

Here at Living Unabridged we talk about family life a lot. But we’re usually talking in the context of homeschooling.

The reason for that is simple: we homeschool. So learning constantly and spending time together are how our life works and happens.

But I do not believe that homeschooling is the only way to build an amazing family culture. In fact, I think there are three simple steps for ANY family to be amazing. Homeschool, or not. Stay at home parent, or not. Two parents, or not. I have friends in all of these situations. Which got me thinking: what advice would I give every family?

3 steps to an amazing family life

In other words, what are three simple steps for an amazing family life, no matter your individual circumstances?

1. Read aloud for an amazing family life.

I’m not the first person to point this out, but reading makes a difference. Children who read have higher vocabularies and tend to do better on standardized tests (not that I care about tests, I’m just pointing out the fact).

children readingKids who read have an advantage over kids who don’t.

Children with parents who read to them have even more advantages. (Seriously, there was an article not too long ago talking about the privilege and inequality caused by some parents reading aloud to their kids. I’m not going to link to it, because I thought it was ridiculous. But it’s out there if you’re interested.)

The thing about reading aloud is ANY PARENT CAN DO IT. Seriously. (And if you can’t, well, audiobooks or Librivox could be your new best friend. Maybe you can learn alongside your kids! You could also Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks)

Any type of family budget can accommodate reading aloud. No money for books? Every city in the U.S. has some type of library. There are literally thousands of free titles for Kindle from Amazon and other sources. (And a basic Kindle isn’t going to set you back too much.) You don’t even need a Kindle to read them (there are apps to read Kindle books on your phone or desktop computer).

If you don’t have space for a bookshelf (but surely you can squeeze in just one somewhere in your house…), an e-reader or a phone app will help you out.

Nothing replaces a parent reading aloud to a child in building a family culture.

Start today. (And don’t sweat over what to read or how well you read. There are lots of suggestions out there, but don’t let them overwhelm you.) Your family’s favorite books (and your least favorite) will be unique to you. The characters you read about will become part of your family. Who will your new literary friends be? That’s up to you.

I’m saying this because I truly believe it: even if you can’t or don’t homeschool, reading aloud is one of the best ways to help your child socially, academically, emotionally, and spiritually.

dinner together2. Eat together for an amazing family life.

I know, I get it: we’re all busy. But nothing replaces a family meal in building family culture.

When my husband and I are sitting at our table with our six (!) children and things are crazy (did I mention the 6 kids thing?) we have to remind ourselves: the next generation is civilized at the supper table.

The dinner table is about more than feeding bodies.

Think about all the things a kid is learning when you eat together. Things like how to wait. Or how to interact with others. How to make choices. And definitely how to carry on a conversation that doesn’t consist of knock-knock jokes or rude noises.

While we’re at it: maybe include the children in meal prep. Or table setting. Definitely enlist their help cleaning up.

You don’t have to use your best china (although you could). No one has to light candles (but, again, you could). You don’t necessarily have to use serving dishes (serving from the pot or casserole dish is acceptable). I hereby give you permission: you could even eat takeout or frozen pizza. Just sit down and eat it together, with devices turned off and distractions removed.

Don’t give up the battle for family mealtimes.

Maybe you have a spouse that works an odd shift: continue to gather whomever is home for the meal. Make sure that a full family meal is on the calendar if need be. Start with supper three times a week and a weekend breakfast. Goodness, start with ONCE a week, if that’s all you can manage.

The next generation will {someday} thank you.

family game night settlers of catan3. Play together for an amazing family life

Yes, working together is important. Chores are necessary. Jobs must be completed.

But when is the last time you laughed with your child? How long has it been since you pulled out a board game or sat down for a rousing round of Uno?

My husband and I feel so strongly about the importance of Family Game Nights, we’ve been working on a series of game suggestions all year. (And we’re not done yet!)

Playing together is where family memories are made.

I’m not really the type of person who sits down and plays with her kids. I might help set up a playscape (building a Playmobil house or a few Lego buildings), but mostly, I want them to entertain themselves. But a board or card game can engage the whole family, or most of the family anyway, depending on how many kids you have and what ages they span.

Games are honestly part of my favorite memories with my own parents and grandparents. And they weren’t necessarily expensive games, either. I have fond memories of playing endless games of Rummy with one grandmother and Skip-Bo and Uno with another set of grandparents. Maybe it’s because I associate game playing with holidays and vacations, but those memories are fond ones.

A board game is a lot cheaper than a vacation.

Yeah, there are other ways to make your family life amazing. I know. I’ve already written some more blog posts about that (in my head, at least). And I really do want to include Step 4: praying together and reading scripture together, for those of us who are Christian. Nothing is more important than the spiritual health of a family.

And I’d really love to write about the importance of music in a family culture. Maybe that’s a post for another day!

But these three steps are a great place to start for any family.

Want to go for the gold tonight? Sit down to dinner. Play a game. Then read a favorite book together before bed.

You’re on your way to an amazing family life.

3 steps to an amazing family life pin
Resources for Families:
Be sure to check the Consider page if you want more information about what specific products or services work for us!

Simplified Dinners for New Cooks

Posts may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy if you have questions about this. If no images appear on this post, you may need to disable an ad blocker on your browser. If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it on your favorite social media sites.