Today’s post is a guest submission from Patricia Dimick. She has written a number of articles for me. Her articles are always timely and well-received.
With such busy schedules, families spend too little quality time together these days. From school and tutoring time to extracurricular activities, work, sports and other obligations, there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in your day. While society values ambition and success, real life values like strong family bonds are often overlooked. Some of the best parts of life are free, like time spent with your family. Spending time with your partner and children builds strong emotional bonds, enhances academic success, lessens behavioral problems and emotional distress and helps everyone learn about expressing love and appreciation for one another. We are sharing five fun and easy ways for busy families to connect.
Schedule Family Time
It might seem like there is more to do each day than there really is. Start by using an electronic or paper calendar to see your daily, weekly, and monthly commitments.
- Look at all of those activities and set priorities.
- Consider whether some of the items can be skipped or delegated to others in your close network.
- Try saying “No” when someone attempts to add an item to your list that doesn’t fit in with your priorities.
- A planner or calendar can help you stay organized and avoid wasting time.
- Be sure to fit family time into your regular to-do list, especially if your kids want to do something specific like seeing a movie together or going to the skate park.
- Having an appointment with your family gives everyone something to look forward to and increases the chances that the special event will actually happen.
Not Only Fun and Games
Family time does not only have to be leisure. You can make everyday activities like daily chores, grocery shopping and cleaning up in the kitchen a way to catch up with one another. Doing this takes some of the weight of home maintenance off your shoulders. Cleaning the house won’t feel like such a burden if you have help from your loved ones.
At the same time, you kids will learn how to take care of their surroundings and build important life skills for the future. Incorporate something fun like a speed competition for picking up toys or playing music while mopping the floor.
It can be hard to get everyone together for family dinner every night, but the more of these that you can enjoy together, the better. Have your children and partner help with meal preparation, table setup and cleanup afterwards.
Everything will get done faster and you’ll be able to converse throughout the process.
In addition to encouraging healthy eating habits, dining together helps to foster strong communication skills.
Your kids will be able to learn table etiquette too, which has a positive impact on their moral values and self-esteem.
With all the extra help, you’ll even have time to go for a short walk to enjoy some physical fitness and help the digestive process go smoothly.
Day Out with the Family
When you have a little more time on your hands, like over the weekend or during school breaks and holidays, taking the whole family outside makes for some quality outdoor fun.
- From a nature hike or a visit at the zoo to collecting shells at the ocean or visiting a national park, breathing in fresh air and spending time in nature has many benefits.
- The exercise everyone gets can help lower the levels of cortisol, which is a potent stress hormone.
- You’ll be able to recharge for the upcoming week at work, boost your focus and enhance your creativity.
- Spending time outside also improves your mood, increases vitamin D levels and strengthens your immunity against infections.
- Outdoor adventures are a great way to foster healthy habits with your children and can be a great learning experience that benefits the whole family.
When you do find time to dedicate to the family, be sure to put all the electronic distractions away. Your partner and children deserve your undivided attention. While it can be tempting to take quick looks at incoming texts and alerts, your kids will surely notice. By disconnecting, even for just 24 hours, you can model attentive behavior and teach your kids to enjoy real life.
At first, integrating quality family time into your routine might take some extra effort. Start small and build upon it, and over the course of a few weeks, it will become a habit. All of the members of your family benefit from this time together and the wonderful memories will be something that everyone can be thankful for well into the future.
BIO: Patricia Dimick is a Denver based freelance writer and a fun stay-at-home mom. This passionate coffee drinker loves to write about parenting topics and enjoys DIY projects. Patricia spends her free time playing table tennis or enjoying trips to nature with her precious daughter and loving husband. You can reach her @patricia_dimick.
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The importance of family time is emphasized in the book “The Danish Way of Parenting: A Guide To Raising The Happiest Kids in the World.”
Mama in the Now interviewed one of the authors of “The Danish Way of Parenting: A Guide To Raising The Happiest Kids in the World” in two blog posts: