When I was growing up back in the 60’s things were different in many ways. I’m not trying to say things were better in the old days (even though that’s the way it feels sometimes) or that I walked 10 miles to school in the snow backwards, or that we really knew what hard work was.
Although, it was a bit simpler then because we didn’t have all the technology and entertainment that we do now, but we didn’t know any different. I guess where I’m going with this is that since we didn’t have anything except radios, three channels on the black and white television, and one home phone we spent way more time with family and friends.
I remember family vacations, now as I get older I remember them with fondness, at the time I didn’t think it was such a great idea. We were a middle class family, had a nice home and a nice car. Our vacations always took place in the car. And when I say the vacations took place in the car I mean that we were primarily driving to or coming back from a destination. Barely resting up at your destination to then turn around and travel back. Dad was a no nonsense kind of guy, no stopping, no fooling around, he was on a mission. Mom was always trying her best to make things pleasant, she would bring games, comic books, and play I Spy as we drove along.
I had two brothers who liked to wrestle, Dad didn’t like it – got on his nerves, so who got to sit in the middle? And who was the pillow for nap time? You guessed it. I loved looking out the window, watching the scenery, which was hard to do from the center, but you didn’t argue with Dad. We were a close family, especially in the car. Evidently not close enough, when Dad’s arm would fly back to stop the boys fighting they were smart enough to duck, but since I was innocent why should I duck? The arm didn’t care. This doesn’t sound like fun, especially when you’re a kid but my brother’s and I have reminisced about it over the years and it always brings a smile. This togetherness gave us memories to hold in our hearts, these circumstances and events brought us closer to each other.
Somewhere I heard that if children don’t have those bonding experiences that they will find other groups to bond with. Because they haven’t had that time with their family they usually don’t choose the right people to bond with. I knew that in the fast paced world we live in today those kinds of memories sometimes had to be made, not just casually encountered.
So I made a decision when I had children that I would make memories with them. They didn’t always turn out as good as I’d pictured them in my mind but my children knew I always had the best intentions. It takes planning and efforts to make some memories and sometimes you just have to be observant and seize the moment. I’m going to share with you a few of the good and not so good bonding moments that I’ve had with my children. Perhaps this will fuel some ideas for your family bonding opportunities.
1. Family Bike Trips – riding to the park or around the neighborhood. We would often get on our bikes after dinner and ride to our local park, sometimes with the family dog, which added to the adventure. We would stop along the bayou to look at the tadpoles, we’d stop to speak to neighbors, and find interesting things to look at along the way. We had our shares of biking accidents with skinned up elbows but all in all we have good memories.
2. Camping – this is the place where bonding takes on a whole new meaning. Whether you are camping in a tent, a recreational vehicle, or a cabin it is still an adventure. My kids loved camping in the back yard. Whether you are building a campfire, dealing with nature in the form of insects, squirrels, or in our case gators, this is a bonding experience. Taking hikes and keeping an eye open for spiders and snakes, all of this can be wondrously fascinating or your worst nightmare, but always bonding. There are so many stories my children remember fondly, many that make us all cringe at the same time, and many that have us rolling in laughter.
3. Driving Vacations – taking road trips and stopping to see sights along the way. Just getting out on the open road, even if it’s not a long drive, going to local sites for a long weekend. It’s fun to stop at rest stops and have picnic lunches, stop to check out historical markers along the way, or stop in small towns just to check them out. Play games, sing songs, try to get the kids off of the handheld games, cell phone or iPods and check out the country side.
4. Family Game Nights or Family Movie Night – Play board games, or multi-player video games together, watch a movie, play badminton, volley ball or baseball. Just get together at least once a week and have fun, eat popcorn, make milkshakes, just enjoy!
These are just some of the ways I’ve tried to bond with my kids over the years. Things don’t always turn out like you expect, sometimes they are better, but your children will know that you love them and want to spend time with them. I’ve learned to not take things too seriously, not to get upset over the small things, let things happen the way they happen. This doesn’t work out too well if you are a control freak, with children things don’t always turn out like you plan, but if you roll with the flow they can produce some great bonding time and good memories.
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