Life blows past you and suddenly you’re looking back at the last five months, five years, or five decades wondering what on earth happened to all your time. How much of your precious, irreplaceable time was spent on Facebook or stressing over your latte and politics or reading about how to be a better wife or mother instead of tying heartstrings?
Probably too much.
What is tying heartstrings? At its most basic level, tying heartstrings is connecting with people, but I don’t like to use the word “connect” when talking about people, because it makes me sound like an insurance salesman. I don’t have a problem with insurance salesmen–I just don’t want to sound like one, because I’m not one.
Tying heartstrings is building or strengthening the bond between people. It’s putting your time where it matters.
Here’s how you tie heartstrings:
Do something together.
That’s it. Told you it was simple. I challenge you to dedicate a portion of each Saturday to tying heartstrings. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you accept the Simple Saturday Heartstrings Challenge:
- It doesn’t have to be anything epic—if it’s simple, you’re more likely to keep it up.
- Please don’t make it into a big deal. Don’t say, “We shall henceforth spendeth 60 minutes of uninterrupted quality time together to ensureth heartstrings are properly tied-eth and to enableth the generations to strengtheneth their bonds…eth.” That’s freaky.
- Don’t make your “victims” feel like you’re checking quality time off on a list. “There, I played with you. Now I don’t have to pay for your therapy. Oh, and don’t bug me for an hour.”
- Don’t be ultra-obsessed over the Saturday thing. Be flexible. We school on Saturdays and take Mondays off, so my Simple Saturday Heartstrings are actually Marvelous Monday Heartstrings. Be fllllleeeexiblllllle.
- Just do something!
Here are 50 ideas for simple ways to tie heartstrings. Many of these will work with a small child as well as a teen, your spouse, Mom and Dad, or your elderly neighbor next door.
50 Simple Ways to Tie Heartstrings
- Say, “Let’s play a game.” (A few rounds of Tic-Tac-Toe or Twenty Questions is great—it doesn’t have to be monopoly or chess!)
- Bake cookies together to eat or to deliver to another heartstring “victim.“
- Be nosy about an interest they have, and, if possible, pursue it together once in a while. (My husband loves airplanes, so sometimes we have a picnic lunch in the van in a spot near the runway where the planes land and take off right in front of us. Simple and free.)
- Go for a walk.
- Call someone up “just because.”
- Ask what they’ve been reading.
- Read a book out loud together—children’s books are fun at any age, and chapter books can be spread out over weeks and months.
- Try a new recipe together.
- Send a letter—handwritten!
- Blow bubbles.
- Plant flowers.
- Help with a simple task, and don’t forget to stick around to chat a little bit.
- Sip tea, coffee, cocoa, or apple juice together…slowly…and chat…without your cellphone nearby.
- Enjoy nature together—follow ants, identify trees, feed ducks, take your dog squirrel-chasing.
- Ask about their week. If you truly listen all week, you’ll be able to ask in detail, such as “How is Susie feeling today?” or “Did your buddy make the football team?” or “Did your secretary’s brother’s wife have her baby?” or “What kind of food did they serve at the conference luncheon? Cookies, I hope!”
- Have a movie night or watch an oldie, but goodie, like Gomer Pyle, The Andy Griffith Show, or The Dick Van Dyke Show. (Yes, screen time can be heartstring time.)
- Paint each other’s nails.
- Toss around a baseball or the ol’ pigskin synthetic leather.
- Challenge each other to a 5-minute Lego building contest or set the timer for five minutes and see how high you can stack something.
- Do a simple craft—simple! Hello, Pinterest! Or, as we like to do, hop on to Pinterest together and pin all the crafts you will never do. Pinning is a fun little family obsession of ours.
- Make a blanket fort and sit in it.
- Collect jokes throughout the week and share them over a bowl of Chocolate-Covered Sugar Bombs.
- Read Calvin and Hobbes or a new magazine over each other’s shoulders.
- Pursue a SRAOKTDRS together—that’s a Simple Random Act of Kindness That Doesn’t Resemble Stalking.
- Share stories from your youth or ask about their childhood or young adulthood.
- Share dreams…but let them do most of the sharing.
- Attack a project from the to-do list together.
- Hold hands, snuggle, or give back rubs.
- Braid hair.
- Pick flowers.
- Flip through a catalog together or read a newspaper side by side, sharing whatever you feel moved to share.
- Call someone up and say, “Get dressed, cuz I’m coming over!” and then hang up…and go over there, because it would be mean to call and not show up.
- Watch a dog show on TV.
- Sit in the park or mall and watch people.
- Go eat all the samples at Sam’s Club.
- Skip stones or throw sticks in the water.
- Lie in the grass (or snow if you live where they have perpetual winter) and look at the clouds.
- Ask a question and listen to the answer without interjecting the words “I,” “me”, or “you should.” Good luck with this one!
- Teach someone a new magic trick.
- Share a chocolate bar or a box of candies.
- Sit by the water, with or without your toes dangling in, depending on if there are gators and piranha where you’re dangling.
- Go fishing.
- Make a scrapbook page.
- Memorize something together—a poem or a section of Scripture or my birthday so you can send cookies.
- Bake a pie…and more cookies.
- Go window shopping.
- Turn on the sprinklers or fill a wading pool and sit in it.
- Break out the sidewalk chalk and create together—don’t be tempted to let them create while you go do the “important” things.
- Put your phone away and just be together and see what happens.
If you follow me on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (as The Travel Bags), I will remind you to devote part of your Saturday to Strengthening Heartstrings, and invite you to share how you did this. (On Facebook, don’t forget to check “Follow” or comment and like frequently, or you won’t see my posts. Crazy Facebook.)