If you often find yourself wishing that everyone could just get along, that you could somehow tap into those moments of family harmony, but then the ebb and flow of life carries you along before you can do anything about it, take heart: You don’t need to wait for the next family vacation to recapture the magic.
Try working these 5 ideas into your life and make the most of your family’s time together.
1. Unplug, unplug, unplug
Yes, we all know we should do a little less staring into our phones, but recent studies show that the very sight of screens (even if switched off!) can result in more shallow interactions between people who are spending time together. Silence your phone and encourage everyone else to do the same.
2. Divide and conquer
If your kids are going through a rough patch of not getting along, experts suggest one parent taking one child out while the other stays home with the other—or splitting up on a family outing, then coming back together for a meal—can give everyone a break from a dynamic that they might be stuck in. Similarly, parents should prioritize regular date nights where they can catch up with each other.
3. Maintain family routines
Family rituals, like special weekend meals, movie or game nights, religious worship or even the smaller everyday ones like a regular family dinner, provide a predictable framework for being together that is comforting for everyone and that makes them feel happy at being a member of the group.
4. Don’t get caught up in what everyone is doing wrong
If you find yourself trapped in a loop of frustration at something one of your family members is doing, stop and remind yourself of a time recently when that person did something good.
5. Greet with a hug and part with a kiss
Hugging produces happy chemicals in the brain. Plus who doesn’t want to start and end the day on a loving note? Doing so will increase your well-being and stimulate good feelings all around.