The secrets to happy family life

Simple ideas to nurture thriving kids and harmony at home.

Some families seem to be naturally close and loving, while others are at each other's throats all the time.
Healthy family relationships are something that you need to work on, but the good news is that there are ways of bringing your family closer together and creating a happy household.

Spend time together

We all have busy lives and can end up spending little time with our families, especially when the kids are older.
Make an effort to have time together. Start by getting everyone to eat meals with the family unless they have a good reason to be somewhere else.
Research shows that when families dine together, their children are less likely to drink alcohol, smoke, do drugs, develop eating disorders or have suicidal thoughts.
A US study also found that kids who eat with their parents have better manners, healthier diets, larger vocabularies and higher self-esteem.
Try to plan a family outing once a week, whether it is riding bikes, going to a local café or trying out different playgrounds around your city or town.
Regular rituals are also important – consistent family rituals encourage social development in children and increase feelings of closeness by 17%, according to research

Work on communication

Whether it's talking about something interesting that happened during your day or airing a grievance, it is crucial to be able to open up to your family and for them to feel comfortable talking honestly and openly to you.
Mealtimes are a good time to initiate discussions – but make sure the TV is turned off!
You might also want to set aside 10 minutes or so to have catch-up conversations when family members get home
from work and school.
One study found that children raised in families who don't communicate well grow up to be more pessimistic.

Tell the stories of your lives

Talk to your kids and your other half about what you were like when you were young, and pass on stories about your parents and their families.
Studies show that the more kids know about their family history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives and the higher their self-esteem.
These stories can also help them get to know you better and relate to you.
Also, tell them how you feel about things going on in your life (unless it's too upsetting or it's grown-up information they are too young to handle).

Show an interest in each other's lives

Your daughter's infatuation with a pop star or your son's passion for skateboarding may be something you just can't relate to and you may struggle to understand your partner's great love of fishing.
But these things are important to them, so find out a little about it, ask questions and get involved if appropriate.
Not only will they appreciate your interest, but it can be a useful conversation starter.

Keep your work and family seperate

This can be tricky, especially if you work from home or have to take work home in evenings or weekends. But it's crucial to have times when your family knows you are there for them 100% and not thinking about work.
People who worry about their work while they are at home with their families are 32% less likely to be satisfied with their lives, according to a study.
If you have to make calls, check emails or do some other form of work in what would usually be family time, keep it as brief as possible or do it when the kids are asleep.
Leave the room to get it done, and when you return, focus on your family and stop thinking about the job.

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