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By Elizabeth Schick

Four ways you can start to strengthen your family today

I met my husband when we were both 15 years old. Since then, he has been my best friend, my shoulder to cry on and all that other mushy stuff! I thought nothing could bring me more joy then seeing him happy and experiencing new adventures with him. Then, in 2015, we had a son. My heart melted into a pile of goo, and I suddenly had a new most important person in the world to me.

But then, as time went on and I watched my husband changing diapers, teaching our son to walk and molding him into a “mini-me,” I found that I had two favorite people in the world. Every day, we are learning to adjust and readjust our family. But there are some family habits that I enjoy doing on a daily basis to strengthen our family.

Eat dinner together

As a child, this was huge for me! I am an only child, so the only people I saw on a nightly basis were my parents. Every single night, we would wait for everyone to be home so we could eat together as a family. According to the Family Dinner Project, there are so many benefits to doing so. Not only will it strengthen family bonds, but it also leads to healthier food choices and is good for your little one’s self-esteem. Everyone’s gotta eat; why not do it together?

Go on an annual family trip

Everyone also needs a break at some point. Going on a family trip ensures that everyone is relaxing (okay, this may be a reach for parents) and learning together. Some of my best memories are traveling as a family – I actually spent my 13th birthday in Mexico on a humanitarian trip building houses. At first I thought it was going to be terrible and I was so upset, but the most memorable part of that trip was simply helping people.

To this day, I am so glad I got to go! Another huge benefit was being able to see how others live and to learn about different cultures, a point that Discover Corps echoes. This helps you to keep an open mind and might lead to amazing opportunities you never though of before.

Walk around the neighborhood at least three times a week

This is another “sneaking healthy” thing to do! After we eat dinner, we like to take a walk around the neighborhood. Not only does it get you moving, but you get to spend more time with your family instead of doing what you would normally do (I know for us, we would be watching TV). We like to let our little boy ride his razor scooter or blow bubbles while we walk and talk about our day.

Ideally, we can talk at dinner, but sometimes that can be a bit difficult when you are constantly having to bribe a 2 year old “just one more bite!” Walks give us an opportunity to talk while letting our child be distracted outside, by something other than a TV!

Do at least one “kid-friendly” activity each weekend

I love to shop at garage sales and estate sales! First, I get great deals! Second, it is interesting to see how others live and to root through their things. I admit it: I am nosy. But I also understand that childhood is a magical, happy time, and we cannot wait until only our annual vacation to create that magic! There are so many options for this – go to a kid’s museum, park, splash pad, beach or even a play date, if you are lucky enough to have friends with babies around the same age.

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