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It’s no secret that families are spending less and less time together. In some cases, there is no choice about it. Parents have to work, parents are divorced, and everyone has busy schedules. One thing that doesn’t change with time is the love that we have for our children. People are struggling to maintain some sort of a bond with their families in the midst of hectic lives. There are ways to maintain a bond with no magic formula, no change in job status, and no financial investment.

Start with time. “Quality not quantity” has repeatedly been stressed. The fact is, it’s true. Everyone has busy days, and everyone needs to unwind. For this reason, some people end up sitting in front of the television, reading a book, or other relaxing activities that are done in solitude. This is time that can be spent relaxing together. Sitting together enjoying a snack or hot cocoa and talking about your day or about what is going on in your lives is just as relaxing as watching television or reading. 15-30 minutes of enjoying only each other is a truly bonding experience.

Make the most of your time. There’s no reason that you can’t all hang out in the kitchen while supper is cooking. Pitching in to help would be a plus! Homework can be done at the kitchen table while cooking and clean-up is being done. Car rides can be spent talking instead of listening to the radio and zoning out. Take advantage of any time that you are together and tune in to each other.

Designate special times together. Have a family day set aside every week. Sundays work out great for this because many families attend church at the start of the day to begin with, and it doesn’t take from children’s sporting events and social lives. You don’t have to spend a lot of money for your family to have fun on these days. Go to the beach, have a movie day at home, play some board games, go on a bike ride, go fishing, go sledding…anything, as long as it’s done together. If you incorporate a family day into every week, you will get to know your family better, and create memories that last forever.

Does your family know how you feel about them? By doing things with and for them, you might feel that they do know, but there’s nothing like hearing the words “I love you” from someone that you love. Don’t ever say goodbye without including those words. Don’t hang up the phone and don’t physically leave your loved ones without giving them the words of love. Departure isn’t the only time that those words should be used. They’re best when they are used spontaneously. When you’re snuggled up reading, or when you’re overcome with the feelings, just say them! “I love you!” How can your family maintain the bond of love, if it isn’t expressed?

In your stressed out life, always remember what is important. Your family won’t reside in the same house forever. What do you want them to take with them when they move out on their own? Do you want them to remember times spent together? Then give them those times. Do you want them to remember that you weren’t home very often, and when you were you were always busy with something? Not many people would want their children to have that memory. All you need to do is communicate, spend time together, enjoy each other, and express your love for each other.