What does family time mean to you? Do you have thoughts of sitting around together in the evenings, sharing each day’s experiences, enjoying each other’s company? Or, are you thinking of a particular family outing, special occasion or event that resulted in positive experiences, where you were able to build memories with your family members?
On the other hand, does the idea of family time cause you guilt due to the fact that time spent with family seems to be dwindling? Perhaps regular family time seems illusive or at least hit or miss.
In this article we hope to encourage you in your pursuit of a good work life balance that also helps maximize family time.
Family Time is Essential
Making a time commitment to family relationships is essential. We think you’ll agree, our most meaningful relationships involve family. Friends may come and go due to life changes or lost connections. But, in the long run, family is forever.
And, as in all relationships, family relationships require work. Not everyone is as easy to get along with as we are! Some can be a challenge. Families have difficulties. Stresses of life get in the way. Your spouse, children, in-laws and other family members may often require your undivided attention. There’s no substitute for time with your family.
Make Family a Priority
Oftentimes, we take our loved ones for granted, hoping they’ll understand our lack of face-to-face time. We may have overcommitted ourselves. Of course we do not intentionally set out to do so. But our job—especially if travel time is involved—chores, school and even outside interests can interfere with time set aside for family.
We’ve heard that, in the long run, spending quantity time is more important than quality time. Let us argue that both are required for a positive impact. For our family relationships to endure life’s good times and bad, time commitment is crucial and we must make it a priority.
Strengthen the Family Bond
“We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.” This may sound a bit trite, but it’s clear. Everyone needs to belong, to experience “us,” “we,” “our.” Life is not meant to be done alone.
As social beings, we all feel the need for a place to belong, to feel wanted and essential. When things matter to you, they matter to those who love you—your family. You want to support each other, do life together, talk together, enter into each other’s lives with your presence—this is what makes families strong and this is family bonding.
Proper guidance and attentive love is the key to cultivating good family values for children. Kids mimic what they see.
If they grow up observing unloving, disrespectful, detached or unkind behavior between the adults in their home, they may repeat those ways of being. How can we hope our children will be well adjusted adults some day when we act out the opposite in the home? Children are very observant. They worry and develop insecurity when we give them reason.
Studies indicate that children show signs of distorted early brain development, sleep problems, anxiety, depression and so on due to severe or chronic inter-parental conflict.
Adults must put aside selfish interests and behaviors for the good of each other, and ultimately for the development of their children. Each one should work on their own issues—do their own work—and be committed to integrity, transparency and respect for each other, which will build trust and confidence in their children.
On the other hand, kids who are nurtured by parents who treat each other with openness, love and respect usually become adults who have the same values.
Understand and Support Each Other
Talking and listening to each other, having frequent family meals together, playing together—simply spending time together—all give us more information about each other. We begin to understand each other more intimately.
As a family, observing and acknowledging the fears, failures, joys and hopes of each other helps us work towards supporting each other. Family should be a place where each one feels safe to be transparent and open, without fearing loss of love or respect.
Tips for Spending Quality Time with Your Entire Family
Prep and Cook Meals
Each of us has our own busy lives filled with commitments. From day’s start to day’s end, we hardly make time to eat meals together, let alone cook meals, start to finish.
Despite that, the well-known expression “the family who eats together, stays together,” still holds true. Families who schedule time for each other around meals will be more inclined to experience family bonding.
Although meal preparation can be a bit stressful, perhaps on weekends or days with less commotion, have family members prepare a meal together. If possible, allow children to participate in meal planning, even choosing the menu of the evening. Sounds fun? Give them responsibilities such as measuring and stirring ingredients or helping set the table. They will take pride in having helped with family dinner. .
Spend Time Together on Weekends and Holidays
At the end of a busy week of work and school, everyone wants to unwind and enjoy a couple of days with less stress. Although events will still be scheduled on weekends, quality family time should not be neglected.
SPEND Time on Weekends and Holidays at Home
Time spent around the house can be filled with quality time. Everything we do doesn’t have to be related to household chores, either.
From taking time to play with small children to allowing an older child to invite friends over for a visit, focusing on the interests and wants of our children is a way to give a child confidence and security in our love for them.
Here’s a suggestion for parents of teens. If your teen seems to shut down or is resistant to engaging in conversation with you, try joining them in an activity they enjoy or work beside them in a household chore you’ve asked them to complete. Many times an attitude can improve when you, the parent, join them—working side by side to complete the task. That’s usually when you’ll find your teen talking to you about their problems, concerns, fears, or just clueing you in on what’s going on in their life. And, a tip—let your child choose the topics for discussion. You will never regret time spent listening and showing genuine interest in your children.
Take a Family Outing
Spending time away together as a family can be just the thing to re energize you and your whole family. You can simply drive to a beach, a lake or to a park with your children for a day of play and relaxation. Take foods everyone enjoys or plan to get lunch at a restaurant or drive-thru.
If a theme park is more to your liking, check online for reservations and purchase tickets ahead of time. Part of the excitement of an upcoming family getaway is in the planning. Allow your children to join in with ideas and suggestions for places to stay and activities to schedule.
Whatever you decide to do for time spent away, be sure to reserve enough time to return home and relax together. Your children will have time to decompress, discuss with you the memories you’ve all created together, and you’ll be glad for a moment’s quiet before getting back into the busy life you’re all used to.
Do Activities Together
Making time for your family means giving them something to cherish forever. In case you’ve run out of ideas, here are a few to consider.
Activities for Entire Families:
Build a treehouse or a snowman.
Go camping with your entire family.
Enjoy movie marathons.
Play board games.
Read bedtime storybooks to your children.
Arcades can be fun for both kids and adults.
Watch arts and crafts videos and create together.
Activities for Adults:
Visit art galleries or museums with your spouse.
Try a different restaurant each month.
Attend sporting events.
Try a new hobby such as fishing, skiing or hiking.
Volunteer at a local food bank or church
Walk or exercise together.
Help with Homework
Schedules can be hectic and time short, but there are simple tasks that must be completed each day. One of these is homework for school aged children. To spend quality time with your children, help them with their homework. It’s got to be done and can seem mundane to a child. But, you can bring interest or excitement to the simplest assignment. Give it a try.
Help You Children Develop Relationship Skills
Teach your children basic manners—the ones adults use every day. Help them practice the habit of saying “please” and “thank you.” Teach them to speak with kind words and care for each other at home and with friends at school. Also, help children understand good behavior practiced at home helps ensure it’s not forgotten when away from home.
Enroll extended family members in helping you teach social skills to your children. Grandparents can be exceptionally gifted in this area!
Mark the Calendar with Family Schedules
“Put it on the calendar!” That’s a statement we often hear around our home. Creating a family calendar helps keep schedules straight. A calendar in a central location can be seen by everyone in the household. Perhaps assign each family member a different color pen and have each one add important activities to the calendar each month.
Remember to add special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, parent/teacher meetings, neighborhood events, church activities, school programs, etc. You may need a large calendar!
Maintain Work Boundaries
Meaningful relationships require time, patience and effort. Having said so, one of the best ways to make time for your entire family is to know when to say “no” when it comes to work calls, emails and texts. Everyone needs to make a living, and some work related issues cannot be avoided. Just keep in mind—sacrificing regular time with your family will cost you in the long run.
When we talk about breaking generational curses, this may be one of them. Most of us can recall occasions when we were at our recital or sports day, longing to see a glimpse of one or both parents and ended up being disappointed. Protect the time you need to be a part of your child’s life and attend important events. Work is important, but so is family.
Families Stay Connected
Avid use of social media has us all on our phones or tabs at all times. It’s a nice way to pass your time, we do agree.
However, we may forget a reason we have phones in the first place—to stay in touch with one another. Making calls each day to check in with each other, or text to keep a spouse or family member posted on our whereabouts and time to expect us home is common courtesy. Communication saves worry and confusion for all of us.
In this article, How To Make Family Time, we hope to have encouraged and inspired you with some ideas to incorporate into the life of your family.