Whether you’re planning your next vacation, celebrating milestones in your family together, or simply want to be intentional about the messages that you send to your family members, one of the best things that you can do is to take some time out to show your family how much you love them.
This can be difficult when you’re dealing with the storms in life…the early morning sleep interruptions, the temper tantrums, battles about technology. Sending consistent messages of love can help you to build the right kind of relationship…the kind that will keep your family strong, even when things get tough.
Here are some of the top 10 ways that you can show love to your family:
One of the best ways to show that you truly love someone is to surprise him or her spontaneously. This helps them to know that you are thinking about them, not just during special times like holidays, but even during the day on a normal day.
For kids, this can be something as simple as breaking the routine and making your lunch into a picnic on the porch outside. For parents, this might mean a sweet card in the mail saying how much they mean to you or a phone call just to catch up on what’s going on in their lives. For spouses, try doing one of the chores that you know they hate to do.
Whatever you make pick, keeping things spontaneous is a great way to show your family that you care.
Eat a Meal Together
In today’s busy world, it can be difficult to find the time to eat a meal together every day. With soccer schedules, work schedules, and more, coordinating everything can seem impossible.
However, one of the best things that you can do as a family is to set aside at least one night a week that is off-limits for all scheduled events. Yes, it may take some sacrifice to keep your special night set apart for family time, but it is well worth the benefits that you’ll receive.
Take Something Off Their Plate
Along with surprising your family members, one of the most effective (and cheapest) ways to show that you care is to take care of something that is usually the responsibility of another family member. This may mean making the family breakfast so that your spouse can enjoy some extra time snuggled in the sheets or taking care of the dishes on a given night, even though it might be your son’s turn.
By taking on some of the burdens that they have, you show that you recognize the things that take up their time and that you appreciate the things that your family members do to contribute to the household.
Send a Little Love in Small Ways
Post-It notes are great ways to write short, sweet messages to your family members. Instead of the pressure of writing big long messages in a letter, sit down one night and write out a few of the things that you really love about each family member, then stick their notes in little places that they can find them throughout the day.
Not a fan of sticky notes? Steamy shower mirrors are another great way to write surprise messages, especially for spouses!
Schedule Time Doing an Activity They Love
Yes, this might mean that you’re stuck playing tea party for an hour or two, but when you truly take the time out to enter into the world of one of your family members and take on an activity that they enjoy (with enthusiasm), you’ll often find that they will open up to you in unexpected ways.
People tend to be the most open, honest, and vulnerable when they are in their comfort zone. When you jump in and show excitement for things that they love, you show that you notice the things that make them unique, a willingness to learn who they are and that you love to spend time with them.
Offer Regular Praise
When you get into the cycle of only seeing what your family members do wrong, it can leave you feeling tired and dejected. One of the best ways to avoid this is to constantly look for little things that you can praise them for. This doesn’t only go for children—recognizing the things that your spouse, parents and other relatives do well can continue to strengthen your relationships.
One of the most important aspects of sharing praise about someone is to compliment them on things that they do, be very specific, and to share that praise in public. When people hear you speak publicly about the things that make someone special to you, it can add emphasis to the praise being spoken.
Take a Breath and Listen
One of the best things that you can do for your family is to take time to listen to the things they have to say. When you’ve got a tight schedule and you’re trying to get everything done, you can get stuck in a rut of saying things like, “We’ve got to get out the door. You can tell me about that later.” These kinds of messages communicate that you don’t find it important to listen to the things your family members have to say.
Create space for meaningful conversations at specific times of the day. By establishing a routine, your children will automatically know that they have a time that they can speak to you about anything and everything. Great times for this are on the drive to or from school, at mealtimes, or even during or after bath time.
Invite Family Members to Participate in Things You Love
While it is important to get involved in things that your family members love to do, remember to let them participate in your favorite activities, too.
Maybe you love to bake. Take some time to teach your favorite recipes to your spouse and children, inviting them to put their own twist on it as they make it. These kinds of activities bring everyone together and allow your family members to see you doing what you do best!
Refuse to Compare
When you begin to compare your kids to each other or even to other children that you may know, it begins to show in the ways that you relate to them. Make a conscious commitment that comparison is not healthy. Your spouse and children are unique—celebrate the things that make them special. Even when you get frustrated about something that they do (or don’t do), recognize that those same personality traits have benefits, too.
Make Physical Touch a Priority
There is nothing better that you can do for your family members than to seek physical contact throughout the day. These little touches become like a physical “check-in,” sending positive messages to the brain.
For kids, this might mean reaching a hand back to give a gentle squeeze to their knees while in the car or brushing out their hair after bath time. For a spouse, you might hold their hand in the car or lay a hand on their shoulder or back when you sit together.
Whatever you do to show love to your family, being intentional can go a long way in helping your family to feel close and supported. This week, take some time to pick at least one of the suggestions above and give it a try. You may be surprised by the results!