Here's a few of the things we do to keep connected. Some of them may be worth a go...
Fitness tracking goals = limited screen time
Why not try using excercise/outside time = computer time? In honesty we didn't really think it would work when we bought the older boys some second-hand fitness trackers. We came up with a simple idea that a certain amount of steps (outdoor time) equals an hour on the PlayStation or Ipad. Means more time with us and less time playing in online worlds where their minds get all pumped up with adrenaline with nowhere to use it. Ashton can often be found running and jumping around the house or offering to pop to the shop to make up his extra steps. We're currently planning which activities to do in the holidays so that there's a balance, seems to have struck a chord with them and means that they are responsible for their own activities.
'The family that eats together stays together' or something like that
I'm not saying it's easy to do, we know all too well how hard it can be to manage meal times. Work, school, after-school clubs, nursery and mood (let's face it) can determine where and when we sit together as a family to eat. We do try to eat dinner at the table together as often as we can so that we can talk about our days, encourage them to try new foods and pay attention to each other. Somedays it's a disaster and no one particularly eats much and Margot runs off at least 12 times but it still feels like we're staying connected.
Pets are gold. (it doesn't have to be feathered or furry, even insects will do, we've tried that!)
Please don't underestimate the healing qualities of having some kind of pet. A few weeks ago we brought home two budgies (now we have three) and have time out feeding them and watching them. Sounds a bit daft but it's ever so therapeutic and teaches them to take care of something other than themselves.
Use your body - we have legs, we use them more
Walking is so simple but when we're so pushed for time it's always the thing that goes and we jump in the car to pop to the shop or to get to school on time. The boys are able to walk to the park and the local shop on their own now we've moved. We may not live out in the sticks anymore but it sure is good that they can walk out the door and have some freedom without the worry of the road. We have started to walk to and from football practice for extra activity too and surprisingly had the BEST chat about going to high school and gained some great year six gossip!
set family challenges - climbing a mountain is not entirely necessary
It doesn't have to be a big one, but something you can all do as a team and feel equally empowered by. Going for a long walk. riding bikes, learning to climb, anything really that you pushes you out of your routine and pulls you together. Activity isn't always favoured in our house and if we mentioned 'a short walk' for the dog, we're usually met with sullen faces or worse, an attitude. We're lucky to have spent the last two years going away with our sports teacher friends in the October half term, who help push us to move more. Last year we set a challenge of climbing a (small) mountain together in Wales. It was the BEST feeling seeing the boys faces all red and sweaty at the top, feeling exhilarated that we'd all managed to do it! I've also never seen them walk as fast home!
I'm sure there are more things but I figured this may be enough for you to read in one go. Would really love to know if there's any helpful tips you have tried to keep the connection between you, your family and our real world?