When you’re a parent, every day and every week is about the kids. Every minute, every decision made- is all about the fam as a whole. We know this. It is just life these days. Take a week and give it a focus. Turning on the spotlight allows us to center our thoughts, actions and activities on those nearest and dearest to us. Family Week is about celebrating the meaning of our loved ones, including extended relations and friends!
What is family?
Each one looks different. Some are even chosen instead of the people to whom we are biologically related. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources & Services Administration, Definition of Family, “A family is a group of two or more persons related by birth, marriage, or adoption who live together; all such related persons are considered as members of one family. For instance, if an older married couple, their daughter and her husband and two children, and the older couple’s nephew all lived in the same house or apartment; they would all be considered members of a single family.” Fun Fact Time! Of the 123-million households in America, there are over 83 million families, with an average of 3.23 members.
The Census Bureau’s historical categorization of what a family is does not entirely represent the reality. Or, rather, what we as a society and as individuals would deem a “family”. I always think about Marta Kauffman when she was pitching Friends. She said (I am paraphrasing here), “It’s about that time in your life when your friends are your family.” Surely, how we live these days in our households is not reflective of a textbook definition of what makes a family. It is instead, who we choose to partner with and who we choose to rely upon or care for. The scenarios are limitless. What matters most is love, acceptance and feeling safe.
When should we celebrate?
Celebrating your family does not need a specific date in order to be acknowledged. As with dates such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, we simply take the occasion to give thanks and reflect on those individuals who fill those roles for us.
I was recently browsing on Facebook and saw that it was National Daughters Day and then the following day was National Sons Day. I was reading some comments of friends, acquaintances and those of strangers (because, well, Facebook) and people had some interesting things to say about these “holidays”. Some were simply taking the opportunity to cheer for their family member. Others were complaining about the “made up holiday”. It struck me that there are these “days” for nearly everything. I, in fact, wrote a post about avocados to celebrate National Avocado Day.
So, here we are. Does it matter though? Celebrating holidays, real or presumed “fake” is a matter of preference, religious observance and maybe even a little bit of one’s own level of festiveness. I think we know where I stand if the avocados are any indicator, ahem.
Save the Date!
Officially, National Family Week is slated to be November 20th this year. Typically, the observance is the week before Thanksgiving, which makes sense given that is a time when we are often gathered together with our close and extended families. I know that I am getting a little bit ahead of myself since we aren’t even into October yet, but I thought it might be nice to get the ideas rolling and plan ahead for once!
The information I found was somewhat conflicting in regards to the initial origins of Family Week. That being said, I did learn that President Richard Nixon was the first US President to acknowledge Family Week in the US. Through some further digging, I found several proclamations of Presidents past and present writing on Family Week. It was interesting to see the varying personal notes by our nation’s leaders on what family means to them from their own experiences and that as a leader of our country.
How can we celebrate?
To revisit one of my earlier statements, families are all different. Where we live, our communities and our likes or dislikes can help us to determine the best ways to celebrate our families. I’m not going to suggest a family camping trip or flag football game to my family. They would look at me like I was an alien. No, for me, it makes the most sense to pick something that my whole family enjoys. What comes to mind first for you? Whatever it is, take that idea and run with it. You know your family best and generally what would work and what won’t.
Last weekend, my family went to the beach. Let me tell you- we LOVE the beach. We are the people who get up first thing in the morning and go out with out coffee and breakfast bright and early. Did some dinners out, played in the water (which strangely enough was warmer in late September than it was in August. It was a great long weekend and we had a wonderful time during one of the last warm weekends of the early fall. Got to spend time together as our central family unit and then also spent time with my brother, sister-in-law and my parents!
Thinking ahead to what we can do on National Family Week, it doesn’t have to be anything as extravagant as a beach trip. That was a luxury for us for which I am grateful we could enjoy. It can be anything as simple as playing board games, movie and popcorn on the couch or simply taking a nature walk. Remember, what matters the most is being together and doing something that everyone will enjoy.
Family Week Ideas!
I thought I would try some of these with my family, maybe they’ll work for you too!
I decided to start with an SEL focus. My 7 year old, in particular, responds well to positive reinforcement and structure. He loves doing mindfulness and yoga and helping me organize. My youngest is pure love and chaos, so its a good balance haha.
To get started on something positive for everyone in your family, try this SMART Goal Setting activity. I LOVE this activity because it can be tailored for anyone in your family and sets up realistic, attainable goals to work towards. I like this because it sets structure for real goals and appeals to all learning types. There is also a great accompanying YouTube video featuring some of MTT’s finest!
Choose a new book! Take a visit to the public library and see what new titles are out, what programs are available and just enjoy the space. The New York Public Library has a great curated book list for kids. This list is from last year, but the titles offered are all fantastic choices covering a range of age levels. Maybe your family could read a book together, or one that has a movie and then compare and contrast one against the other. I like letting my kids choose their own books so they can really find something that interests them.
Another idea is to take a nature walk. I am not a huge nature enthusiast, but I do love taking short walks in the state park nearby my house. I especially enjoy sharing these walks with my kids and looking around at everything through their eyes. A great way to do this is to print out one of our 5 Senses Nature Walk guides to take with you. As you walk, you can talk through what you see, what you hear, what you smell, etc. My son loves these guides and finds lots of ways to experience nature through ALL of his senses which he says is, ” Super cool”.
What will you do?
This year for Family Week, what will your family do? Will it be one of the above suggestions or something completely different? Maybe it will be something spontaneous or something that you planned out for a long time. Either way, have a great time! Let us know in the comments if you like our ideas or if you want to share some thoughts with us! We’d love to hear from you.
Courtney is an MTT tutor, academic coach, and blog contributor for MTTES. If you check out our FB and Instagram pages, you might see her giving a storytime with her son Jack through the company’s Facebook Live service. Courtney’s love of the English language, learning, and creative writing inspired her to contribute relevant content to teachers, tutors, parents, and homeschoolers seeking support across an array of trending topics. She and her teacher husband have two small children and reside in Baltimore, MD with their dog Lottie May.