How much time does your family spend together?
The world is no longer the way it used to be where families eat dinner together each night and enjoy quality time together every weekend. Today, many households consist of two working parents, which makes quality family time difficult. In my house my husband and I often work opposite hours in order to save money on day care. As a result, our family time is limited. To make up for that, we do the best we can to savor every moment we have together as a family!
The never ending participation in sports and activities through town recreation departments and schools has also played a role in the decreasing amount of available family time. Parents are always carting their kids off to one program/event after another. Family time is often limited to the 10 minute car ride between activities. It is so important to make those 10 minutes count by having meaningful conversations and making sure you hug your child before sending them off again!
Why is family time so important?
Spending time together as a family helps foster the parent/child relationship. It also helps children feel like they are part of a support system. They feel more safe and accepted which helps them develop into strong, confident and independent individuals. In addition, allowing for ongoing open communication with your children creates a greater level of trust and understanding. As your children get older (especially the teenage years), it is so important for them to feel like they can talk to their parents about ANYTHING! This often helps children think before they act as well as make better choices.
Spending time together as a family also has many positive developmental impacts. These include:
- Increased language development
- Greater sense of self
- Feelings of love and acceptance
- Enhanced thinking and reasoning skills
- An understanding of family values
- Increased respect for others
Now that you know how important it is to spend time together as a family, here are 10 ways to promote bonding with your family:
1. Go Camping: What’s a better way to bond as a family than roughing it in nature? Families have to problem solve and work together in order to have a successful experience. Too cold for camping? Set up a tent inside!
2. Have a Picnic: Pack a fun lunch together as a family and head out to your favorite park (or even your backyard). Don’t forget to leave all the electronic devices at home because the focus should be on communication and having fun! Too cold for a picnic outside? Set up a blanket in the living room and have a picnic inside. My kids LOVE having indoor picnics!
3. Movie Night: Try to schedule a movie night once a month. You can have it at home, at a movie theater or at a park. The important thing is to all take turns in deciding what movie to see. Kids need to feel they are part of the planning!
4. Plan a Vacation: This means don’t just tell the kids where they are going, let them be active participants in the planning process.
5. Treat Night: When I was a kid, my dad brought my sister and I a treat every Friday night. Since my dad worked long hours, we really looked forward to this special night which always brought us closer together. Now, my kids look forward to my husband bringing home chicken and fries from his restaurant (don’t judge).
6. Family Dinner: Now this may seem obvious but with all the clubs and sports these days, it’s hard for families to sit down for a meal together. Set one day a week where family dinner is a must! At dinner, talk about your day and what is going on in the world.
7. Family Game Day or Night: What creates more bonding than some friendly competition? Games encourage families to work together as a team and/or prove who is the “king of the castle.” Either way it brings families together. (FYI: Games can be anything from Chutes and Ladders to baseball to mini golf, so be creative!)
8. Kids Choice: Letting the kids choose the activity gets them more engaged and excited about spending time with the family. It also gets siblings to work together!
9. Story Time: Reading books is wonderful for development but it is also a great way to spend time together as a family. Make it even more fun by reading books at a park, beach, by the fireplace or while camping.
10. Snuggle: Who doesn’t love snuggling with their kids? Obviously this is more for the little ones but a nice hug at least once a day with the older kids still offers the sense of love, support, safety and comfort!
So parents pick one, two or all ten, and get out there and spend time with your family!! I know I will!