Original photo credit: adwriter via Flickr

Relationships don’t have to be complicated.

And yet we make them so.

Children want to know that you love them.

Parents want to know that their children love them back.

What better way to demonstrate your love than by being together. I’m talking casual, easygoing connections. The kind that leave your heart bursting with joy and gratitude.

What better way to do any of that than simple, old-fashioned family time. This is about seeing the ordinary as extraordinary.

That’s what this project is about, you know. Staying awake to what matters most in a human being’s life. Loving and being loved. Embracing family. Restoring faith in humanity. Remembering to give your whole heart and your whole mind to the ones we love most — before it all disappears, whoosh!

To make this kind of impact in a lifetime is a special gift, but it takes practice. Some parents never, ever grasp this concept of showing their love.

Let this not be your fate. Let this not be your child’s fate.

Grab them by their face — big or small — and show them that your eyes are so full of love. Give every bit of your heart today to your child and you will not regret it. The only regret may be that you held back, that you let that special love pale in comparison to other people, places and things.

I asked my village of friends around the world, again, to give me their favorite, ordinary moments as a family. Their words are wise. This is not about traveling to Disney World or Paris. It’s not about spending a ton of money or throwing amazing parties. Their advice is simple: The best moments are when we’re together because simple traditions and rituals are powerful. Those moments are what make make for the best childhood memories. Please add your own ideas in the comments.

10 Easy Ways to Connect as a Family:

READ

“My oldest daughter (age 5) and I love to read chapter books together. At the end of the day, we’ll snuggle together on my bed and read a chapter or two. I love sharing some of the books with her that I loved as a child,” said Terri from Creative Family Fun.

Julie at Creekside Learning said she loves reading to her kids. “I love making different character voices and putting emotion into my voice based on what is going on in the story. I love how captivated my kids are when they are being read to and that books are such a big part of their everyday life.”

Photo Credit: Gracie and Viv via Flickr

SNUGGLE

Snuggling was actually one of the big themes that came up for this post. Krissy at B-Inspired Mama said her family “loves snuggling up on the couch for family movie night. We get pizza and a movie from the Redbox. It doesn’t cost very much but seems so special to the kids.”

“Snuggling in bed with my daughter before she sleeps and talking about our favorite parts of our day,” said Rebekah Patel at The Golden Gleam.

“I’ve often told my husband that when I think of a truly warm and happy moment, it is the moment that I wake up and see that both of my kids have crawled into bed with us. Once we are all awake and cuddling as a family before we start the day…if I ever have to to my inner happy place now or when I’m older- that’s the memory and feeling I’ll invoke.” Tricia of Critters and Crayons.

GO OUTSIDE

MaryAnne at Mama Smiles loves spending time outside with her kids. “I love watching them explore, find an ordinary rock that they find extraordinarily beautiful, and the joy they see in discovering the ‘perfect’ stick!”

“All of us piling in the hammock—a tangle of children’s feet, arms, and legs in all different sizes—and we tell stories,” said Heather at Word Play House. 

TAKE WALKS

“We love going for a walk or heading to the local park! In the summer the kids and I enjoy even just walking around outside the house looking at the plants & gardens to see how they are growing and changing and looking for butterflies. A current favorite at our house is a basketball game in the driveway… I think they like it best because Dad plays :).” Jennifer from Plain Vanilla Mom

“Our family loves walks. We enjoy exploring the neighborhood, the park, a trail, or the woods. Spending time together outside, talking, listening, and taking in nature. It’s the best.” Trisha from Inspiration Laboratories.

Photo Credit: Skyseeker via Flickr

CONNECT

“In this warm weather we love to sit on the old couch on our back balcony in the evenings and watch the sky get dark and the moon get brighter and brighter, watch the birds fly off to their trees for the night, and watch the bats come out. We have an ongoing competition to see who spots the first star, and the second, and so on,” said Jane from Mama Pea Pod.

Katherine of Creative Play House said she loves her family’s snuggles before bed. “Chatting about the day. Just playing; tickles, rolling around, being silly together. I also love cooking dinner while Jake sits on the counter helping, learning how to peel veggies, talking about food and anything else he wants, and watching everything I’m doing.”

Photo Courtesy of Gina at famiglia&seoul

PLAY

Gina at Famiglia&seoul has found connecting with extended family and old-fashioned play to be a very meaningful connection for her family. “I really want my son to get to know his grandparents and great grandparents. A couple of weeks ago, I asked them what they enjoyed doing outside as a child and some of the answer I got included playing with chalk, bike rides, making mud pies, and jumping rope. So, we decided to try out each one of their favorite memories (with them) to be able to enjoy the simple things in life that were important to them as a child. It is wonderful to see the smiles on my son and my family’s faces when they share these experiences for the first time.”

Danielle at 52 New Experiences said, “I love waiting for the bus with my children. We are the only ones at our bus stop, so we play tag, Simon Says, Mother May I, Red Light Green Light…all the games I used to play as a child!”

Amanda at Dirt and Boogers said, “We horseplay a lot around here. We tickle each other, run around the house, give piggy back rides, and wrestle around on the floor. The giggles are contagious, and we have a great time!

Photo Credit: Familymwr via Flickr

BAKE TOGETHER

Valerie from  Glittering Muffins said cooking and baking is a favorite “because we all love food and to be able to make it together and see Nico’s excitement when stirring, pouring or cutting is just contagious.”

photo credit: cookie flores via Flickr

TAKE A DRIVE

“We love to go for ‘dinner drives’. We pack our dinner into foil containers, jump in the car and drive around until we find a spot we like (next to a beach, lake or playground usually). If the weather is nice we open up the rear hatch and sit on cushions in the cargo area together to eat, chat and sometimes watch a movie if we take the portable player with us. The kids particularly like parking near the airport and watching the planes land while they eat!” Carrie at A Little Learning for Two.

Photo Credit: Flashy Soup Can via Flickr

RELAX

“Hauling all our blankies and pillows to the living room floor on friday nights, making marshmallow popcorn, and giggling our faces off while we try to watch a movie. With 6 kids, it’s not so quiet and we miss most of the movie every time!” Arlee from My Small Potatoes.

“Sundays are family day for us. Everything we do is together as a family and we love it. From the mundane grocery shopping to an afternoon family spa (hot tub) to dinner at grandpa’s house.” Deborah with Learn with Play.

FAMILY MEALS

“I enjoy our mealtimes together. Sometimes we sit for a couple of hours talking and eating. It’s not always at dinnertime either, sometimes it’s over pancakes on a Saturday morning. We have some the most memorable and interesting conversations with our 4-year-old because he wants to know more about something or simply because we’re just reminiscing about something from the past,” said Heather at Little Moments to Embrace.

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