You’d think having three people in lab coats following you around the house 24 hours a day would increase your stress levels. In a search for the best ways to relax, dozens of California families agreed to let UCLA researchers live with them for a few days, where they were observed doing everyday activities, like folding laundry and shuttling kids to Little League. Researchers also conducted interviews with each family member, and measured their stress levels every few hours. All of the families had good and bad days, but some households had a much less stress over dinner prep, cleanup, and homework. So, here are the three traits the most effective families shared:
*First: The parents were kind to one another. Researcher Belinda Campos says that the least stressed moms and dads were those who greeted each other at the end of the day with a warm hello and a kiss, as opposed to a question like, “Did you remember to pick up the dry cleaning?” When spouses were supportive and appreciative of each other, their kids were more respectful, and better at following instructions.
*The 2nd quality of successful families: They’re not democracies. The children who had the fewest tantrums were the ones whose parents assigned them responsibilities – like taking out the trash – instead of letting the kids choose what chores they wanted to do.
*This last one may surprise you: The happiest families made dinner together. Across the board, it took about an hour to get dinner on the table, regardless of whether the meals were “heat and eat,” or made from scratch. Researchers found that when everyone participated, the kids were more likely to be happy with what was on the table, and there were a lot fewer “eat your vegetables” arguments.