All families go through their ups and downs. It’d be weird if you smiled and got on as much as the families in TV commercials always seem to. Siblings are always going to squabble but it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other. Of course, there’s a difference between the occasional disagreement and a family that’s simply disconnected at its core. Despite your bickering, you and the members of your family should still feel happy and bonded as a unit. If you all get up from the dinner table and scurry away to your devices to absorb yourselves online then you’re not really taking the time to connect with one another.

The key to bonding as a family isn’t that you should spend every waking minute of every day with one another. You simply need to learn to take some time out of your busy schedules to appreciate one another, have a laugh, and keep up to date with how everyone’s doing. You don’t want to fail to notice that someone in your family is struggling at school or at work (whether the problem is their peers or a project) because you’re all glued to your screens and not communicating with one another. Here’s how to reconnect as a family and truly bond. Better yet, you can do it without giving up your alone time. As mentioned above, you don’t want to be driven mad by spending too much time with your loved ones

Improve your home

First of all, a happy home leads to a happy family. Whilst you all lead busy lives, the home is the one place in which you and the members of your family all gather to spend time together. If your house isn’t a warm and welcoming place then you’re not going to feel truly at home. You need to really spruce up your household and reclaim that cozy vibe if you want everybody in the house to feel comfortable.

A good way to turn your home into a calming and comfortable environment is to declutter. Clutter isn’t just a physical hurdle but a mental one. The messier the home, the messier the mind. Members of the family aren’t going to want to gather together in the living room if it feels cramped and suffocating. You need to get rid of all the junk gathering dust in your home so as to make the house more spacious and breathable for your home. You might find that people in the household want to relax together far more often if your home simply looks and feels nicer.

Learn something new together

If you have time to kill this weekend then you and the family should all leave your TV, laptop, or phone screens so that you can spend some quality time together. And if you’re not sure how to spend your time then you should learn a new skill. Rather than letting your brains turn to mush by binge-watching a Netflix season all day (though, you should allow yourself that luxury now and again – the new season of Stranger Things is great), you could be broadening your horizons by educating yourselves about something new. This doesn’t have to be a boring school lesson. You could be adventurous and try some family baking, or you could attempt hoop dancing together and laugh as dad fails at it. The important thing isn’t mastering a new skill but having fun as you and your family try something different together.

Go on a day trip

Of course, there are other fun ways to spend your free time with the family. You each have work and school to worry about during the week and you probably want to crash on the couch or your bed once you get home, but you don’t have to wait until summer to have a family vacation. You could all go on a mini-break one weekend. A camping trip is a great way to bond because you rely solely on adventurous hikes and spooky ghost stories in the evening for your entertainment. Just be sure to bring the proper camping gear you may need.

Still, nature might not be your thing. You could try a day trip instead if time is short. A visit to somewhere such as the SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium could be a really fun outing for the whole family. Again, it doesn’t matter what you do; all that matters is you and the family spend some time out of the house doing something fun so that you can all make some memories to last a lifetime.

Create a tradition

The one thing that’s guaranteed to bond a family is a good tradition. Whilst the kids may roll their eyes when dad tells his bad jokes at Christmas, the truth is that’s all part of the magic of the day. Of course, you don’t have to wait for the holidays for the traditions to take hold. Fun family traditions can take place throughout the year. Sundays could be the day you set aside for a roast dinner; that’s a nice way to end the week before Monday swings around. You could even set aside a day of the week for family board games or a “family cinema” night if the kids aren’t keen on old-fashioned games. The goal is to find a tradition that offers something to everyone in the family so that it becomes a special connection you can all share and enjoy. That’s the true key to bonding as a family.

Have family meetings

A final foolproof method of getting your family to bond is to hold regular meetings. There could be cookies and drinks on offer to make sure it’s a relaxed affair but the goal of a family meeting is to catch up on things happening in everybody’s lives and make plans for the future as a family. If you struggle to find time in your busy schedules for one another then scheduling a meeting on a regular basis is the perfect way to guarantee the family spends time with one another.