Tag: creating family connection

Jump, Jump For Your Love!

For years I resisted the trampoline. Too big. Too ugly. Too much money.

For years the kids insisted.

This year, their collective gift from Grandma was a big 15′ trampoline. (Don’t worry, she asked me first.)

Now, 2 weeks in, I see it not just as a fun tool but as an amazing tool for getting us moving,  building greater family connection AND for getting us all outside when maybe we’d be on the couch instead.

For my youngest, age 8, it is a fine outlet for his endless energy. It is also my bargaining chip when he is asking for screens. Jump for 30 minutes and you’ll get some screen.

For my 12 year old, it is a great gathering place for her and all her friends. Don’t know what to do when your friends are over? Problem solved. The trampoline is the main activity for any gathering. They can jump, lay about, talk, jump some more and have endless tween fun. Before homework, she jumps. After homework, she jumps. And the other night when it was just the two of us at home? We laid out there for over an hour, soaking in the moonlight and discussing middle school, friendships, dreams, and the general pursuit of happiness.

For my 15 year old, it is a wild place for him to engage with his 8 year old brother. On the trampoline all things feel equal, and the games they create on there are endless and boundless and fun. And wild. Did I mention wild? They can wrestle, challenge, and get all kinds of scrappy. It is a place too for him to connect to the little kid that still lives inside his big growing 15 year old body.

For my 17 year old, it is a place for her to play with all her siblings; one at a time or as a group. They jump, challenge and connect in ways that were feeling difficult to find elsewhere. It’s also a place for her to really play. Either with a random sibling or with her friends. And a place to go when the studying or the chaos of family life or the stress just gets too much.

For me? I jump here and there, before I make dinner or when I just need to step away from all the have-tos. It let’s me engage in physical play in a way I hadn’t found otherwise. Plus it’s good exercise. And I find too, that when I’m jumping with one of the kids, we’re usually laughing so, so hard. Either because my jumps feel lame compared to theirs or just because it is a place that feels really, really fun. And if I’m tired? I can just lay there and let them jump all around me. Connection made.

And for all of us together, the dyamics are ever shifting, ever active, ever fun. We jump in various duos, groups and as a pack. We interact in ways we never did before; active, exhilirating, expressive and exhausting. From the kitchen window I happily watch it all unfold. (remembering that what sometimes looks like aggression, is anything but.)

So, though I’m not telling you to rush out and buy a trampoline, if you are looking for ways to jump into new family dynamics, the trampoline is really, really working for us.

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Recently I did a 30 minute radio segment with Bonnie Compton of WholeHearted Parenting. The subject of our segment was Creating Family Connection Through Creativity. It’s a subject that has come up for me quite a bit lately – a topic that I originally hit upon in my Future Craft Collective Days working alongside the fun and talented Kathie Sever (now of Ft Lonesome fame which you should totally check out!) Kathie and I created a lot of really fun projects during those years encouraging families to sit down and Make Stuff Together, encouraging kids to find ways to re-use and upcycle and create their own unique style. Heck we even wrote a book about it!

I’m happy to be on this topic again for it is one that is near and dear to my heart – this idea of creating, making, crafting, upcycling, and finding connection through the entire process. If you have 30 minutes to listen in, I encourage you to do so. Bonnie and I hit on some really good points and, perhaps most importantly, we had a really fun time with the process. Which is, really, what it’s all about. No matter what we’re working on.

So, check out our past Future Craft Collective Projects now on Craftzine. Peruse Make Stuff Together for some creative ideas for your family. (FYI, It’s REALLY cheap now used!) Check out Kathie’s current line of artistry at Ft. Lonesome. And have a listen in on my conversation with Bonnie. I guarantee that by the time you’re through, you’ll be MORE than ready to work on some creativity of your own.

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I’ve been pondering connection lately  as I’ve been doing events here and there and folks have been asking, “HOW??? How do we create more connection and find more time together?”

Everyone feels so busy. But I don’t think we  have to necessarily do less, rather I think we can just be a bit more intentional about what we do do. And how we spend our days. Which will of course eventually become our years. 

I’ve come up with a list. Which is not the least bit comprehensive but which offers some ideas for ways that we can see each other more. And connect more. And enjoy truly being together. Without really altering too much from our usual routine.

10 things you can do to build deeper family connection…

  1. Schedule a family day every week. Make it a whole day or a few hours but make it happen. And put it on the calendar just like any other important event.
  2. Declare one night each week to be screen-free for the whole family. Turn off the TV, the computer, the video games and sit together instead. Play a game, talk, go to the park, read aloud or just be.
  3. Turn off all the phones for an hour or more every day; afterschool, around dinner or in the evening just before bed. You’ll be amazed at the presence you’ll feel!
  4. Look at your calendar and find one thing you can cancel. Fill it with family time instead.
  5. Schedule an outing with each child one-on-one. Do it monthly if you can. The whole family will benefit.
  6. Create a Family Appreciation Banner. See  instructions in the book, Make Stuff Together.
  7. Plan a Family Appreciation Dinner. Make it a full on celebration of all the things you love about being a family!
  8. Volunteer as a family: clean a creek, help a neighbor, deliver meals to the elderly. Doing it is a family will increase the rewards a thousand fold.
  9. Declare a room in the house to be electronics-free. No phones, no screens, just family!
  10. Make Stuff Together. Create a collage, a craft project, a garden or a family meal. Just make it together!
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