We have all seen the family sitting around a table at a restaurant, each one laser focused on their smart phones. We have all been guilty at some point or another of allowing distractions to pull our attention away from our family.
On September 26th we recognize National Family Day as a reminder to become more engaged with our family members and discover new activities or participate in favorite family interactive past times. The day promotes the benefits of communication, loving, and nurturing of the family unit which develops strong bonds. The four walls and roof that we build as partners with our Habitat families, is the structure that often changes the dynamic and growth of a family resulting in better lives, and creating more opportunities for time spent together in an environment that is uplifting.
Worrying over spending time with family is something new homeowner April experienced when she was facing another rent increase. April is a working single mom of 3 children who have busy schedules. As she faced her rent increasing, year after year, April was on the verge of seeking a second job to cover the rise in costs.
The sacrifice of April’s time away from her children, caused her an incredible amount of stress. It would not only mean less time April would spend with her children, but it also would mean less activities the children could experience. Fortunately, April qualified for SGV Habitat’s first-time homebuyer program and was able to purchase a home. She now experiences a more balanced life free from the anxiety that her rent will continue to increase. The financial stability means that April can now dream of putting money aside for her daughters’ education.
Spending time with family has advantages beyond the smiles and memories made. A recent study by the University of Massachusetts indicated that families that ate meals regularly together, had teens that were less likely to smoke, drink or use drugs. When families spend time together, children are more confident, they become more adaptable and resilient, and have overall better health. The health benefits continue especially when families spend time together outdoors, such as playing in a park, gardening, or riding a bike.
Future Habitat homeowner, Malissa was asked what is one of the first things she is planning on doing when she moves into her new home, she said, “create a garden with my children.” Currently, Malissa and her children live in a 2-bedroom apartment with no outdoor space. In her new home she will have a yard where she plans to grow vegetables with her 3 children. “I always wanted a garden but growing up in an apartment, we never had the outdoor space,” Malissa said.
If you are blessed to have a family, traditional, or one that is designed by you, the benefits of time spent together is immeasurable and has long term benefits in overall happiness and reduction of stress. Studies show that time spent with family creating memories is far more important than monetary gifts. This sentiment was expressed recently when SGV Habitat spoke with new homeowner Hannah. She was recently able to purchase her childhood home with her husband and parents, through the SGV Habitat homeownership program.
She shared with us the memories she has of her family’s barbecues in the backyard enjoying life’s celebrations. She remembers the neighborhood getting together in the evening, with her friends riding their bikes up and down the street. “I have the best memories from my childhood and now thanks to SGV Habitat, I am able to raise my children in the same house where I grew up and give them the same quality childhood that I had.” Hannah said.
For 30 years Habitat homeowners, Norma and Raul lived in the same community with their 4 daughters in Pasadena. The family is close knit spending quality time together and helping take care of elderly parents and grandchildren who all live nearby. When Norma and Raul learned that the owner of their home was selling the property, they were worried about what would happen to their family. There was talk of moving to a distant city that was more affordable, breaking up the family ties, uprooting the children from their schools and friendships, and losing their space as several family member would now need to live in a smaller home together. They felt as though they were drowning in the anxiety and stress of the situation. “When we learned about the Habitat program, and applied, and were accepted, we felt as though the hand of God pulled us from the storm,” Isabel, daughter of Norma and Raul said. “It was such a relief knowing that my parents could purchase the home and stay in the community near family, friends and a support system as they aged,” Isabel explained.
As we acknowledge National Family Day, SGV Habitat understands it is not just the structure that improves the lives of these families. Owning an affordable home means these families have one less burden, enabling them to feel a sense of freedom, to enjoy time with their families. It allows parents to save more money for family outings, use their money for activities for their children, and create a more stable life embedded in self-reliance, stability and better health.
We asked our homeowners their favorite activities to do as a family in their new home. We hope this list will spark some fun for your family on National Family Day and throughout the year.
- Bake together
- Visit a local park/hiking trail
- Go fishing
- Make a special family dinner together
- Plan a staycation together each family member contributing an activity
- Have a backyard overnight
- Go bike riding
- Plant a vegetable garden
- Walk the dog together
- Family game night
How will you spend National Family Day?