‘We don’t have time for fun’.

‘When I get home all I want to do is collapse on the couch’.

‘What’s for dinner? The worst question of the day’.

‘I’m pulling my hair out; my kids are driving me around the twist’.

‘Our budget is so tight; we couldn’t possibly take a holiday’.

These are just some of the comments I hear from parents every week, and I understand each statement. Raising kids is hard, the juggle and the struggle are so very real, and there are times when you can’t see the forest for the trees, and your sanity is hanging by a thread. I hear you, and I understand you. I had three rambunctious boys and a strong little girl who held her own in the family. I know what it feels like, the days can be long and when they are tiny the nights even longer.

BUT… there is hope at the end of the tunnel. I promise!

This week, I’m inspired to share Five Key Ingredients to Keep a Family Strong. My hope is that you will take some of these and, in fact, anything else that I write and will make it your own. Take what you love and by all means, throw out what you don’t like or perhaps agree with, my desire is to share bits and pieces of the road that I’ve travelled in the hope that maybe something will help you along the way. It’s as simple as that.

So, here we go ‘Five Key Ingredients to Keep a Family Strong’:

1) Create – There’s something magical about creation and creating. The opportunity to just ‘get in’ and get our hands dirty is therapeutic for everyone. Why not take some time and address the things that either need attention or that you can create together.

There may be a few household projects that have been screaming for attention that you can work on with your kids. Never underestimate the power of connectivity in even the most mundane of jobs. Perhaps you have a painting job that needs to be done at home; maybe there is a repair job (a leaking tap, a door that sticks or a shelf that is broken) that require a few hours of time, patience and a trip to Bunnings. These are great opportunities not only to teach but to chat about the big issues of life. It’s amazing what will come out during a car ride to pick up a paint brush or a particular drill bit that is required. Kids thrive on quality time together, and before you know it, the dam will break, and their world will open up to you.

Maybe all of your repair projects are up to date, and everything in the house is working as it should. If this is the case why not create something together and this can be as simple or extravagant as you want. If budget allows, some of the local discount stores have huge canvases at great prices as well as paints and brushes. Imagine creating something together on a large scale. Yes, it may end up adorning the walls of your garage, but it may surprise you at what you create, and you may choose to hang it in a prime position in the home. Where it finally hangs doesn’t matter, what matters here is (again) the quality time spent together and the opportunity to dream, plan, work together and simply enjoy one another’s conversation.

If budget is tight getting creative. Go out and pick flowers to adorn your table, find native Australian greenery and teach along the way. It doesn’t have to cost to make a difference.

2) Music – Now this is a way to pull everyone together. Create a ‘Family Playlist’ that is bursting with songs and tunes that speak to all of you. Think of that song that you’ve all sang at the top of your lungs whether it’s a Peppa Pig song, something from the Wiggles or perhaps Bohemian Rhapsody.

Fill the playlist with everything including the song you danced to at your wedding. Your kids will love it and who knows, maybe a few sparks will fly between you and your partner. Make it fun. I have a younger friend who has a family playlist that includes songs from their wedding dance to songs that have stood out during holidays and things like, ‘Don’t Stop Believin’, ‘Drops of Jupitar’, ‘Hey Jude’, the entire Mamma Mia soundtrack and more. Their family love it, and it brings everyone together in a silly way that they love.

3) Nature – Get outside. Walk, run, hike. Pick native flowers lay in the sunshine (with sunscreen, of course). Run in the rain barefoot, find a nature trail and explore. Feel the ground beneath your feet, let the seasalt mess with your hair and let the wind blow in your face. Let nature take you away.

4) Food – Cook together and try things from scratch. Bake bread (there’s nothing like the smell of baking bread in a home), make brownies, make jello, cook Julia Child’s, Beef Bourguignon. And, please don’t stress if your recipes don’t work out – it’s not necessarily about the end product, rather the richness is always found in the process, and within the process, beauty is found.

5) Laughter – Laugh as much as you can. Find something every day to laugh about. The crazy, the zany and sometimes even the inappropriate things that make some of us laugh when we shouldn’t. Laugh at yourself and let your kids see you doing so. There is something compelling about a person who can and is willing to laugh at themselves. We can’t be serious all the time.

These are just Five ways in which I believe a family stays healthy. I hope you will take one, if not all, and make it your own – your family will thank you. And, ensure that you have fun along the way.

Much love,

Susanna Bateman #littlemiraclescommunity