love + stuff: ideas for strengthening relationships
Hey there — Erin here! Not only am I the editor at Becky Higgins, I feel fortunate to also call Becky my friend and have for 17+ years. Wow. Crazy to think it’s been that long. I was excited when Becky asked me to write this post. I got so many ideas to use and I hope you’ll find them helpful too!
It’s easy to show love to the important people in our life on Valentine’s Day. Send them flowers, give them chocolate, surprise them with jewelry. But how do we show that love and strengthen those relationships throughout the entire year? As you know, here at Becky Higgins we’re not just about recording a good life but also cultivating a good life. Part of cultivating that good life is showing love to those around us.
Yesterday Becky and her team went on Facebook Live and shared a whole heap of ideas to strengthen all the relationships we have in our life, not just on Valentine’s Day but every day.
If you didn’t catch the video or if you want to see all the ideas they discussed in one place, we’ve got you covered! I’ve gathered all the ideas here, included a few from the comments you made, and even added a couple of my own. I’m excited to share them with you. From our spouses to our neighbors and everyone in between, read on for some very doable things to strengthen the relationships in your life all year round.
For your convenience, I’ve divided the ideas up into groups, although some of the suggestions can be used in more than one of the categories. And I’ve also noted who shared the idea. If you want more details on the ideas below, you can watch the video here.
Have at least one family dinner a week where you catch up with each other. Don’t just eat together, but prepare and clean up the meal together as well. (Toni)
Maintain current traditions or add new traditions in your family. Traditions are important because they build excitement for the time you get to spend together as a family. (Laurie)
At the dinner table, share the best / worst part of your day. This sharing elicits so much conversation. (Wendy)
Have topics planned out to discuss at dinner or use conversation cards (like Table Topics) to stir up conversation. (Becky)
Food. Food is a love language for many people. Whether it’s keeping your freezer stocked with your hubby’s favorite ice cream or making your child’s favorite meal, food can fill bellies and hearts. (Laurie)
Take family vacations. Kari’s family loves going to Disneyland and it strengthens their family to do that together every year.
Start a family text thread. Share what’s going on + highs and lows so everyone can keep up with what everyone is doing or going through. (Wendy)
No phones at the dinner table. Period. (Becky)
Regular family devotionals. In her family, a viewer — Brenda — said her husband leads the devotional and prayer. Their devotionals include passages of scripture, age-appropriate devotional guides, singing, and prayers.
Daily family scripture study and prayer. (Becky)
Weekly family night. (Becky)
Family dance parties. Turn on the music and groove! (Kristina)
Decide on a family mission statement and post in your home. (Andrea)
Spouse / significant other
Keep a marriage journal where you write back and forth. If your spouse isn’t great about talking about his feelings, have him write them down. Let him write anything he wants and in turn so can you. It will become one long conversation between the two of you. (Wendy)
Race’s wife Emma keeps a notebook where she writes down what she appreciates most about Race. He loves stumbling upon it and reading it.
Support each other in hobbies and other activities that make them more well-rounded. Don’t make them feel guilty for hanging out with their friends every so often. (Becky)
Share your daily goals with your spouse. Miriam and her husband text each other their goals for the day each morning. They also make a list of what they are grateful for and share that with each other.
Couple’s massage. Kari’s husband schedules one for them each year right around their anniversary and surprises her with it.
Do all you can to make each other happy. If you do all you can and he does all he can, you will meet somewhere in the middle and it makes for a much better relationship. (Toni)
The only way to get out of an argument is to avoid it. Remember, you can have your own opinion without needing to voice it. (Miriam)
Regular date night. (Becky) Amen to this!
“Withholds”: If there are things you didn’t share with each other during the week, take time on a date night or some other together time to share “withholds” with each other. The way it works is each of you shares something positive that you haven’t shared with them, such as, “I really loved it when you emptied the trash before you went to work on Tuesday.” Then you both share a “negative,” like “I was a little hurt when you made such and such comment while we were out with our friends last night.” Then you end by both sharing another positive. It’s a chance to share your feelings without turning it into an argument or getting defensive. (Becky)
Don’t discuss things when you’re upset with each other. Talk about them after the issue is over so it turns into a discussion instead of an argument. (Toni)
Write love letters to your kids. Tell them why you love and appreciate them. (Wendy)
Hugs. Give lots and lots of hugs. Hugs are even proven to relieve stress. Google it—you’ll see! (Laurie)
Time. Have you heard that quote that love it spelled T-I-M-E? Whether it’s time helping them with homework, coloring with them, or shooting hoops, kids love it when we give them our attention and time. Make that extra effort to spend time with all of your kids so they don’t feel left out. (Laurie)
Tuck your kids into bed even as they get older. (Becky)
Make them a special treat. Molly makes each of her kids a giant rice krispy treat in the shape of a big Hershey kiss and wraps them in foil. She sets it out so they see it when they wake up Valentine’s Day morning. This is a tiny gesture, but they all look forward to it every year.
Start a text thread with your children. Kari has one with just her three daughters where they share quotes, inspirational thoughts, or scriptures that might help each of them with something they are experiencing or going through. My husband and I have one with our two daughters who have a device and I love being able to share thoughts and ideas back and forth.
Make your child’s favorite breakfast (or lunch or dinner) on his or her birthday. (Molly)
One-on-one date night with your kids. (Miriam)
Have intentional and meaningful conversations with your kids in the car. (Becky)
Sit and look at scrapbooks or old pictures with your child(ren). One viewer, Heidi, says that she shares the memories that come to mind as they look through them. It helps her daughter relate to her because she realizes she was her age once and struggled with many of the same things that she does now.
Keep a mother-daughter (or child) journal where you write things back and forth and leave on each other’s pillow. Sometimes it’s easier to write your feelings or ask questions in writing rather than in person. (Heather)
My friend, Leslie, reads to her kids every night (and they are 14, 12, & 9). She loves that together time with them. Another viewer, Heidi, also loves to read to her kids at night. She reads books that were her favorites as a kid. Fun idea!
Send care packages to your kids away at college. Include something for the roommates! (Cyndi)
One Sunday a month I have “Moments with Mom” with each of my kids. Each child (except my almost two year old) has a fun, informal “interview” with me. I always have a special goodie for them to eat and we go over goals they have, struggles they might be having, and things they have coming up so I know how I can help. My husband also meets with them once a month to talk about their finances and to ask them questions about how they are doing in certain areas. (Erin)
Siblings / Parents / Extended Family
Make weekly phone calls or FaceTime calls. (Wendy)
Go to parents for advice. (Wendy)
Have a shared photo stream, especially if your parents live far away. (Kari)
Send an unexpected package to your siblings and their family. Becky just sent Valentine packages to her siblings this year along with her nieces and nephews who are away at college.
Pay attention to what is going on with their lives and follow up with them on it. Kari’s brother noticed through pictures Kari posted on Instagram that they were re-doing their backyard, complete with a fire pit. He surprised her family by sending them a box filled with everything they need to have s’mores in their new digs.
Make contact with your siblings / parents / extended family outside of social media. Don’t assume people know what is going on because they follow you on Instagram or Facebook. Make an actual phone call, send a letter in the mail, etc. (Kari)
Maintain a private family history Instagram account for your immediate / extended family. To learn more about Becky’s account she has for her family, check out this broadcast.
Forgive easily. Get over it quicker. Say sorry faster. (Miriam)
Send flowers for no special occasion. Imagine their surprise when your mother / sister / friend / colleague comes home on a boring Wednesday to find flowers on the doorstep. (Karla)
Start a family page on Facebook. Share everything from family stories, good recipes, questions about anything, etc. (Kimberly)
Chrystal bought her parents a WiFi-enabled digital photo frame. Every week or so, she sends a few new photos that automatically show up in their frame the next time they turn it on. Her mom has expressed just how much this means to her, to see snapshots of their lives because they live far away.
If you have grandkids, make an effort to connect with your grandkids. Marci’s grandma would always hold annual back-to-school parties, ice skating parties, Olympic parties, etc. No matter what the party was for, it was for cousins only and her grandma became her best friend because she made an effort to connect with them.
My parents have birthday sleepovers with each of their grandkids around their birthday. They take them for an activity of the child’s choosing (bowling, a movie, shooting range, etc.) and they get to choose where they go for dinner and what they have for breakfast. They also go shopping together to pick out their gift. My kids look forward to it months in advance! (Erin)
Where possible, grab lunch with each sibling once a month. (Laura)
Have a girls’ weekend once a year with sisters, Mom, sisters-in-law, etc. (Kimberly)
Friends / Neighbors / Co-workers
Send random notes with a specific compliment or “this is what you mean to me” message. (Becky)
Host people! Game night with friends, scrapbook night with girlfriends, potluck dinner with Porter’s friends’ parents, kids’ friends over all the time. (Becky)
Bring in goodies / food to work and share with your co-workers. (Becky & Kari)
Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves. Who doesn’t need a good reminder about how cool they are? It creates an investment in your relationship. Everyone has a story and some type of wisdom to share. Learn from it and use it. (Miriam)
Send thank you notes to people. Did someone give a great talk in church or sing a beautiful song? Write them a thank you note that day and send it to them. (Erin)
Kari and her husband give the gift of “date night” to their friends for Christmas (or for another special occasion). They give them movie passes, a refill cup to the local theater chain, and movie candy. Kari and Steve are big fans of date night and love to encourage others to take that time too.
Remember your neighbors on holidays. We try to take them some goodies at least once a year (Christmas or Valentine’s day usually). Or did you just move into a new house? Take the initiative and take a goodie around to introduce your family to your new neighbors. (Erin)
Send a funny postcard to a friend for no particular reason. (Robyn)
Make a scrapbook page about your kids and their friends. Print an extra copy to give to the friends. (Tracy)
Make a note of when people’s birthdays are along with some of their favorite things. If they comment about something they love, write it down. Put it in the notes section of their contact on your phone. So when you need a gift idea for their birthday or otherwise, you have a few ideas of something they would love! (Erin)
Guys! Look at all of these ideas. We could write a book with all of these awesome suggestions. Surely as your read through this massive list, one or two or ten ideas stood out as something you want to implement. So now what? Just act on it! If an idea pops into your head, follow through. Do something. When you think about a friend or family member, reach out.
If you’re not sure what you’re doing that makes those around you feel the most loved, ask them! Laurie suggested asking those around you what you do to make them feel loved; you might be surprised at what they say. Sometimes what we feel is making them feel loved is not what they need or want. So ask!
It’s never too late to start any of these ideas. With Valentine’s Day today, pick an idea or two to start and continue throughout the year. If you have any more ideas to add, leave a comment below. There’s always enough love to spread around especially this time of year.