We all love each other. Of course, we do. I know that. They know that. But when I lay my head down on my pillow at night, sometimes I question if I asked enough about my husband’s and kids’ days, said enough I-love-yous and gave enough hugs. Did I look at each person in the eye today and truly see them for a moment? Did they see me? Or are we all just going through the motions, close because of the house we all live in but also so far away from the type of closeness that matters? In the hustle and bustle of our lives, I wondered: could we be a happier family if we were more intentional with how we connected each day? I decided to make one small change to our family‘s lifestyle this season, and I’ve found the answer to my question to be a resounding yes.
The excuses hit first, as they usually do.
We’re too busy. We have so many things going on. Such busy schedules. How could we possibly be more intentional with our time together when we feel like we’re barely hanging on as we fly through the week?
Excuses are false narratives we feed to ourselves. They keep us distant, alone, and stuck.
When it came down to it, my desire for more connection with the people closest to me had to outweigh these false narratives. Not that we weren’t busy. (Who isn’t?) Not that it wouldn’t be challenging. But because I wanted connection more than just the mediocre closeness I was feeling day in and day out. I wanted more for myself. I wanted more for my family.
It can be hard to get unstuck from excuses; but, once that choice is made – well, that’s when the journey to more happiness can truly begin.
How to Become a Happier Family
The One Small Change We Made
Happiness is such a broad topic that it naturally feels intimidating to move toward. How exactly does one (let alone a whole family) move in the direction of an intangible idea?
You make it smaller. You make it less abstract. You make it into one small change.
So, what was our one small change? We share one meal together every day.
A Real Thursday Night Dinner at My House
The lighting is a bit different than what you’re used to seeing here. The tablescape, not perfectly set. My kids are clothed in a mixture of pajamas, sports clothes and school outfits. The meal? Leftovers.
But what you’re seeing here is the good stuff. This is my family coming together to reconnect with each other after a long day of school and work. We’re sharing stories, nourishing food and time spent together. We chose each other for these few minutes, rather than screens or activities or our to-do lists. And that, my friend, is where the happiness starts to bubble up inside.
A Happier Family: What It Doesn’t Mean
Finding more collective happiness as a family doesn’t come in curated moments. It isn’t about coordinating outfits or a homecooked meal. Happy families aren’t made to fit perfectly in a square Instagram frame or in the snippets we see as we scroll through our screens.
Collective happiness happens when families choose each other, even for a few, cherished minutes on a random Thursday night. And I can see the change happening. The closeness becoming something more intimate, bonds that are getting stronger. Sitting around our table, we truly see each other, offering eye contact, listening to the simple stories of our days. Without ever really saying it, this choice to sit together and share a meal for a few minutes wordlessly conveys the love we all have for each other.
How to Become a Happier Family
When you push past the false narratives you might be telling yourself, what will you do to foster connection in your home? Each and every family is different, so my “one small change” choice was might not necessarily work for yours. Maybe breakfast is a better time to sit down for five or ten minutes to connect with your people. Maybe it’s a Friday night ritual of Family Movie Night, complete with popcorn and a pillow fort. Whatever it is you settle on, my best advice to you is to be present. Look at your loved ones, truly see them. Let them see you.
And watch the happiness bubble up.
When I laid my head on my pillow that Thursday night, I didn’t wonder if I did enough. I didn’t worry that my family’s hectic schedule was getting in the way of connection. Because for those few precious minutes, we filled our cups and we focused on the relationships that truly matter.
And that’s all it takes.
So, friend, what will be your one small change?