20 Habits Happy Families Have (But Never Talk About)
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if your family were happier? Would it be easier to laugh together, to bond, and to avoid fighting?
The fact is, there’s a recipe for a happy family—and it can even be taught.
My family and I took the chance to learn this tried-and-true recipe—but it didn’t happen overnight. I slowly implemented these changes in my family routine, and eventually it filled our lives with a level of happiness we didn’t know possible.
Are you ready to give it a try yourself?
Keep reading to learn the secret habits of happy families.
Why Would You Like To Have a Happier Family?
You don’t need to have a dysfunctional family to feel dissatisfied from time to time. But unfortunately, nobody is perfect and perfect families are scarce.
But why not try to be better, if not perfect? You have a right to claim a bit more happiness.
- Do you snap at your children? Do you argue with your spouse in front of your kids?
- Instead of bonding with your kids, do you spend time scrolling on your smartphone?
- Do you feel like your kids argue constantly? Do you feel your marriage isn’t as passionate as before?
- And to top it all off—do you feel guilty about having these feelings?
If you haven’t answered “yes, I do” at least once, you can stop reading now. If you did, keep reading to know how to pour more happiness into your family life!
20 Happy Family Habits—The Secret Recipe
My best advice is to do one thing from the list today and see how it makes you and your family members feel.
(Spoiler alert: it will make you feel happy!)
1. Celebrate Each Other
Happy families celebrate each other on any occasion.
Whenever it’s somebody’s birthday in my family, we get involved in secret preparations.
We get up much earlier and wake up the birthday person with loud Mañanitas (we lived in Mexico for ten years where we picked up this tradition), a birthday cake, and gifts.
Aside from birthdays, it’s also important to celebrate and be enthusiastic about small things. A good grade in school, a sports event, a singing contest, or even a straight line in a notebook.
Cheer each other on! It feels good.
Remember how you blissfully clapped when your kids made their first steps or said their first words? We all need that external motivation at any point in our life.
Note that it may be difficult for siblings at the beginning of this change. Kids tend to be naturally jealous of each other but you can simply show them that they will be cheered if they cheer their siblings.
2. Create Your Own Traditions
Traditions create positive experiences and memories.
Provide a set time to interact and foster special bonds.
When I was a kid, my family and I used to bake cakes every Friday afternoon, and I can still remember the smell. It was our treat for the weekend, and I still associate that sweet aroma with family happiness.
But you don’t have to be culinarily talented to create your traditions.
It can be something small, like stopping for ice cream at the same stall every Tuesday, having a snow fight, or playing Pictionary on Sunday evenings.
When we lived in Guadalajara and my kids were little, there was a huge banner with a cow advertising a milk brand on our way back home from school. So every time we passed by, we sang that silly Spanish song about a cow, La vaca Lola.
My kids were 3 and 4 at that time. And now, four years later, they still remember it, and we have a good laugh when something suddenly reminds us of this.
Although it may seem artificial initially, try to establish a small tradition.
Think about what everybody in your family likes doing, and do it together on the same day every week. You may also decide it together and involve everybody.
You’ll soon notice how these small traditions provide a feeling of comfort and security.
3. Enjoy Family Meals
This is one of the easiest family habits to implement.
When you sit down to share a meal, it helps us handle the stress and hassle of everyday life. It’s a time to talk about your day, give and receive advice, and also eat with your loved ones.
Happy families eat together. Of course, it doesn’t have to be every meal, every day; the logistics may be too complicated. But I’m sure you can convince everybody to have at least one family meal together. Whether it’s a Sunday breakfast or lunch or dinner on Friday night.
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4. Give Compliments Freely
When was the last time you said to your husband or wife that they look great? Or told your kid that you like how they combined their clothes?
Such easy words of appreciation make family members happier.
In other words: it just feels good.
Grab your phone and take a picture tp prove to your family member you really want to save that moment.
If you’re not the kind of person that gives compliments quickly, try it out! Be the one that starts it, and you will soon see how everybody else will follow.
5. Implement a Bedtime Routine
Every night, my husband or I go upstairs with my kids and read to them, even though they can already do it by themselves. Our daughters look forward to this, and for us, it’s an excellent opportunity to share some quality time with them.
They often start talking about things that happened during school that they didn’t feel like saying before during the day. This can also be a time that one parent takes some time off, and it can help to close the day in a relaxing way.
Later, we have time only for ourselves!
Every routine brings stability and gives a sense of comfort. It’s especially important for kids, but adults also benefit. If you don’t like reading, maybe you can listen to a podcast or even watch a movie together. The important thing is to close the day as a family.
6. Share Plenty of Hugs and Kisses
If compliments are important, hugs and kisses are even more.
Happy families are not afraid to show each other physical affection.
Don’t let the day pass without hugging or kissing your spouse and kids!
It may come more naturally for some—for growing teenagers it may be a challenge. But you can make yourself a discreet checklist on your phone with all the family members.
It’ll be more natural, and your kids and spouse will soon start seeking and sharing more affection themselves.
7. Learn Something Together
When you learn something with another person, you create a special bond. No wonder the strongest friendship relations come from school times.
It works the same in a family.
When family members learn together, they become equal. Nobody is more important, and this new arrangement can benefit family growth and happiness.
You can learn a new language together, learn how to cook an exotic dish, and how to sew or knit. You can start a garden together and explore how to be the best at it.
You can look at your children’s interests and choose something they like.
8. Listen to Each Other
Happy families listen to each other. No matter who is talking, the story is equally important.
Don’t interrupt your toddler to say something to your husband or wife.
Listening to everybody shows how important you consider their role in a family.
People might need reminders, especially older siblings. So you always say things like, “Can you wait a second? Your sister has something to say, and it’s important.”
It’s a family habit that takes time but is essential for general well-being.
9. Movie Time
Who doesn’t like movies? The problem is, we like different movies.
Happy families watch movies together. You can decide that a different person gets to choose a movie for everybody each week, and you must watch it without complaining.
It’s much better than bingeing alone, as you can learn something about other family members’ interests.
And, once again, this way, you show others that their opinion and interests matter.
10. Play Games
We’ve got a cupboard full of board games and a few Switch games that we can play all four.
Having fun together is priceless.
It creates bonds and positive memories. And once again, games reestablish the family structures and make everyone equal—this can create new and valuable interactions.
Take your family and choose a game together. Choose something simple at first, like Flying Chess, Monopoly, or a racing video game.
The easier, the better. It’s all about enjoying some time together.
11. Play Outside
Get into the habit of playing outside.
It’s one of the family habits that improve mental health. COVID showed us how important it is to go out and enjoy the outside activities.
Next time you go to a park or the beach, take a ball and have fun together.
Together with your spouse or organize a treasure hunt for your kids.
Playing outdoors makes your kids more independent and develops their self-esteem. In addition, it’s good for their health, and it reduces stress, which is important for the whole family.
12. Read Together
The moment our youngest learned to read, we established family reading times.
Nothing special. We set the timer, and we all sit on a sofa with a different book.
If you’re not a reader, you can finally become one, and I’m sure you understand how important it is for your kids’ academic and professional future to enjoy reading.
13. Set Goals Together
Happy families set goals together.
Understanding that all the family members have common goals and should collaborate on them is crucial for family happiness.
Why? Setting family goals together gives us a sense of direction and helps with family division. You have an opportunity to notice other people’s interests and coach your kids on how to reach their objectives.
It can be something simple, such as spending less time with electronic devices or organizing a family trip.
Remember to make your goals specific and achievable, and don’t forget to check in regularly.
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14. Share Responsibility
Happy families work together.
It’s important that all the family members feel responsible for their well-being. Even the smallest kids should know that they are solely responsible for something.
Make a list of household chores and hang it on a fridge.
You can make a checklist at the end of the day. You can even include your baby and write down that its responsibility is to make everybody laugh.
Don’t make a huge list, or you’ll meet resistance.
Start with one chore per family member, and let them later propose other things that need to be done.
15. Share Stories
Our personal stories help our kids connect with family members that they don’t even know.
Your memories from your childhood can trigger strong emotions and strengthen your bonds. They will enhance a sense of belonging and shape people’s identity, and there are many other benefits.
My kids constantly ask my husband to tell them stories about his mother—the grandmother they couldn’t meet. We also have told them numerous times how we met, and they laugh every time they hear the story.
If you don’t know how to start, take out a photo album from your childhood and leave it in a visible place.
Your kid will surely start asking questions, and even your spouse can learn something new about you.
16. Spend Some Time Alone
Spending time alone plays a pivotal role in mental health. Being around people is rewarding but also creates help. And the bigger your family is, the more alone time you need.
We all need time to switch off.
Watch out. Shopping alone or vacuuming the second floor of your house by yourself does not count as a solo time.
Each family member needs time for a mental break and must spend it doing something they enjoy.
Your spouse needs time to explore a hobby or just have a coffee at the coffee house down the street. Even the smallest kids need some time to play alone.
Alone time lets each family member reboot the system and come back happier to enjoy the family life.
17. Talk About Your Day
In my house, we have a routine.
When everybody is back home, we take turns telling everybody else what happened in our day. But, of course, kids tend to go into more details than we do.
But in general, everybody gets to know the most important moments in our day.
It makes me feel that I’m part of everybody’s life, even when they’re not at home.
If your family routine doesn’t let you do it every day, choose the weekly family meal for it.
You can ask everybody to say the most important/beautiful/annoying thing that happened to them during the week.
I can assure you that everybody will learn to like it, and you’ll get to know your family better.
18. Travel Together
It’s easier to travel together when kids are little, but it can be more complex when they grow up.
But traveling together is an enriching experience and will make your family happier.
First, you share experiences outside the regular routine. It creates stronger family bonds, as you can live the moments without daily obligations and distractions.
You gain an appreciation for other cultures and create memories to share long after the trip.
19. Value Extended Family
Happy families value extended family.
According to psychologists, staying connected to your relatives teaches your children the importance of family bonds. Therefore, they should spend time with their grandparents, uncles, and cousins, no matter where they live.
We’re currently living on a small Portuguese island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. My husband’s family is in Mexico and Spain. My relatives live in Poland and England.
We have created a timetable for conference calls, and we stick to it no matter what.
It’s important to feel that you belong and that your family extends behind the walls of your house. Remember, it takes a village to raise a child.
Even if the village means networking nowadays.
20. Watch Your Language
Happy families carefully choose their words and tone. Our language reflects our thoughts.
It’s important to work on conflict resolution and not let disagreements turn into nasty fights.
If we parents don’t give examples to our kids and loudly fight in front of them, we cannot expect our children to exchange their opinions peacefully.
Happy families don’t have to agree on everything, but you need to remember to respect others at each moment.
Being a calmer parent will make your kids calmer too.
Family Happiness Matters
Don’t let anyone convince you that happiness is an “extra” in life. It’s essential.
Happy family members feel better together, and are more successful in their personal, school, and work life.
If you want to know how to make your family happy, work on the habits I mentioned above.
By doing so, you’ll not only improve your own well-being and mental health, but you will give your kids the greatest gift of all.
Family happiness builds resilience in our kids and will give them the strength to bounce back in hard times.
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