Inside: Use these habits of happy families to cultivate more joy in your home.

Is your family a source of joy – or a source of stress?

For many of us, the answer is both. Our families make us happy, sure – but they can also make us feel tired and stressed. 

If you’re looking for ways to strengthen your connections and live a happier life as a family, you don’t need to spend thousands on big vacations or move to a cabin in the middle of nowhere.

Instead, you can focus on the small meaningful habits you practice regularly as a family.

Habits have a major influence on our lives, our happiness, and our well-being. They’re instrumental in our physical, mental, and emotional health.

This doesn’t just apply at the individual level – it applies to our families, too. 

By embracing habits as a family to stay connected, improve communication, and cultivate joy, you can collectively boost your happiness and find more harmony at home.

Not sure what habits can help you make it happen?

Keep reading – and I’ll tell you seven of them. 

habits of happy families

Common Habits of Happy Families

Now, let’s be clear – there are some problems that habits can’t fix.

And there are some habits that make some families happy that wouldn’t work for other families. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

That being said, there are some common habits that most families can benefit from when looking for ways to live a happier life together. Here are just a few to consider incorporating into your life:

1. Eating meals together.

In today’s too-busy world, it’s all too easy to feel like you’re living with strangers instead of family members. Everyone operates on their own schedule – whether that involves work, school, extracurriculars, hobbies, or time with friends.

In some cases, you can go a whole day without seeing someone who lives in your house – which is sad, when you think about it.

A great way to solve that problem and foster a stronger sense of connectedness? Plan to eat at least one meal a day together.

Whether you start your day with a quick family breakfast as you’re getting ready in the morning, or you end things by sharing highs and lows at dinnertime, sitting together and sharing a meal is a wonderful way to stay in touch. No phones or television allowed – just quality time and conversation. 

If making this happen every day is unrealistic, aim for a few days a week – or consistently on weekends. And if that still seems impossible? You may want to consider ways to simplify your family’s life so that you can find more time to spend together.

family doing laundry together

2. Staying on top of chores and responsibilities. 

In most households, everyone has a role to play to ensure your home stays neat and orderly.

Whether you assign chores or take a more communal approach to your cleaning routine, like dedicated time to tidy up as a family on the weekend, it’s helpful for everyone to be a part of the process to avoid feelings of frustration and resentment. 

Plus it’s important for kids to learn to be responsible for their own things which includes putting them away.

When the house is picked up and tidy, it creates a calmer environment for family members to enjoy their time together.

habits of happy families

3. Establishing traditions as a family to look forward to.

Another habit that many happy families embrace involves creating traditions. Traditions give us something to get excited about, and when we create them as a family, it’s a great way to strengthen our bond. 

When many people think about traditions, they think about holidays. And it’s true – Thanksgiving, Christmas, and other major holidays give us an easy opportunity to weave in our own traditions.

But you don’t have to wait for holidays to roll around! Taco Tuesday can be a tradition. A once-a-week (or month) family game night or movie night can be a tradition. A celebratory dinner at your favorite restaurant to recognize important accomplishments can be a tradition.

You get to define what that looks like for your family. As long as you keep it consistent and it helps to generate excitement and anticipation, you’re on the right track. 

Even if the traditions aren’t enjoyed during every stage of your child’s life, they’re still an important part of your family identity. And it may just be that your kids appreciate them a lot more once they become an adult.

family dinner

4. Practicing gratitude.

Gratitude is a great habit to practice on an individual level – but have you thought about how you can practice gratitude as a family, too? Showing your appreciation for each other and the things that are going well in your lives is an excellent activity to share. 

There are many simple activities you can do to practice gratitude with your kids.

If you’re able to commit to one family meal a day, it’s a great place to practice gratitude. Take turns going around the table and sharing one or two things you’re thankful for. 

If not? You can get creative and find other ways to make it happen. Consider a family text message, or a whiteboard on your fridge where each of you can jot down something you’re grateful for on a regular basis.

You might be surprised to see just how much these small actions keep you connected and lift everyone up. 

Want to show gratitude to a specific family member? Figure out what their primary love language is and think of a way you can show appreciation that will really speak to them. By taking the time to understand each other, you’ll cultivate more joy and thankfulness in your home.

mother and daughter talking and listening

5. Actively listening.

Have you ever found yourself talking to someone – only to realize they weren’t really paying attention to you? It hurts. And it hurts even more if the person you were trying to talk to is a parent, a sibling, or someone in your family who is supposed to care.

It doesn’t take much to be an active listener. For many, it involves breaking bad habits – constantly scrolling through social media on your phone, or watching television. You can’t actively listen when you’re distracted by something else.

Instead, make it a habit to give your family your full attention when they share something with you – and expect the same in return. 

Create boundaries with screen use in your home. Decide when, where, and how much is appropriate. These guidelines can help to prevent distractions so that family members can practice better listening.

Additionally, be open to receiving honest feedback from family members. People should be able to share if they didn’t feel heard, or understood, or if their feelings were hurt in some way. We’re all a work in progress and everyone has areas to improve on.

Learning how to communicate in healthy ways is an important life skill for kids to learn. The earlier they begin practicing it, the better.

habits of happy families

6. Enjoying quality time together.

One of the key habits of happy families is spending quality time together. It’s hard to feel connected with your family when you rarely see one another.

While meals can be a great way to enjoy some quality time, they’re often quick and can get a little repetitive – not the best for making memories. 

By decluttering your schedule and prioritizing quality time together you’ll have fun and share meaningful experiences. All it takes is a commitment to make it happen and the initiative to plan something together.

Quality time can look like all kinds of things, like…

  • Volunteering as a family
  • Camping or hiking together
  • Cooking something new 
  • Tackling a DIY project
  • Playing a board game
  • Watching a movie together – and then talking about it
  • Going on a family bike ride 

Family bonds are strengthened by creating memories together and sharing experiences. Sometimes laughter really is the best medicine.

woman writing in a journal

7. Respect your ‘alone’ time. 

Too much of anything can be problematic… and that includes time spent with family. For many people, surrounding yourself constantly with others can be a major source of stress and can make it difficult, if not impossible, to unwind.

Even the most extroverted people need a little time to themselves once in a while.

By ensuring everyone has the time and ability to step away and decompress, you can ensure that you’re all at your best when you do come together to enjoy each other’s company. 

Managing your own stress levels and developing habits to improve your mental health helps you to not only be a happier person, but also allows you to get along with others more easily.

A habit of healthy families is understanding and respecting each individual’s needs. Creating boundaries and protecting your self-care time can help you to function better in your relationships.

habits of happy families

Which of the habits of happy families has made the biggest difference in your home? Leave a comment and let me know!

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  1. Thank you. All great ideas, especially eating meals together, and sharing chores. Growing up, we at least ate dinner every night together, but my stay-at-home Mom was expected to do almost all the chores, which was unfair. We kids could have contributed a lot more, and so could our father have, especially on the weekends and holidays. But Mom was left with all of the massive holiday work and entertaining, and on weekends, our father mostly spent the whole time on his hobbies.

    I think I need to create a list of habits for happiness for someone who lives alone.Thank you for prompting me to think in terms of them being habits.

  2. We always get together to celebrate birthdays. My youngest granddaughter loved to share her birthday with my husband, as their birthdays are 3 days apart. That is so special for them

    1. Our culture as family is to do braai meat if someone birthday no matter we don’t have enough money to buy we make sure.

  3. Aloha!
    Fortunately my wife is an amazing cook. so we eat together 1-2 times daily. Also go surfing together with our sons friends all summer. Annual Oahu Waikiki North Shore family vacation!
    Feliz Navidad!!

  4. In a house with two little kids. Lots of giggles and laughter help us bond with all the chaos. We do eat dinner every night together, which can be challenging getting little kids to eat but at least we are all facing each other and have conversations. Chores are always endless so we just try to have fun each night after, like passing the soccer ball around the hallway. Our bedtime routine is very long but it’s another chance to have bonding moments with the littles. Thank you for the additional tips!! Any advice helps when days feel like you’re just surviving!

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