How to Create Quality Time with Your Family
Our society is one filled with very, very busy people. Even young kids are often booked up solid from morning 'til night with school, sports, play dates, clubs, and homework, and teenagers and adults have their own thing going. But spending quality time together as a family — which definitely doesn't include toting the kids along on a last-minute weeknight grocery trip — is important. According to research, kids who spend quality time with their family on a regular basis are less likely to abuse drugs and engage in other risky behaviors. They're also likely to do better in school than kids who don't spend quality time with their family.
We don't mean to give you yet another thing to worry about, but if you feel like you don't get enough quality time with the partner and kids, allow us to offer some easy solutions. Squeezing in some serious family time each week can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be that tough — or feel like a chore in itself. Here are some great ways to create quality time with your family.
- Eat together.
Institute a rule that whoever can be home at dinner time should be home at dinner time. Even if your family forages for their own meals most weeknights, make it a point to forage — and eat — together. Turn off the TV, and make the dinner table a no-device zone. Spend at least a half hour at the table together. Use the time to talk about your day, catch up on activities, and coordinate for the days ahead. Tell stories, laugh a lot, and enjoy each other's company. Clean up the dinner disaster as a family, too, maybe play some music and dance while you wash 'n' dry.
- Start little daily or weekly traditions.
Little family traditions during the week can result in quality time together, even if it's just a short burst of it. The important word here is "quality," after all. So, each week, try to engage in some new habits as a family. For example:
- Take an after-dinner walk.
- Enjoy Sunday brunch together.
- Congregate in the family room to read or watch TV together after dinner.
- Sit with the kids and catch up on bills and other household management tasks while they do their homework.
- Spend your time in the car playing games like "I Spy" or "Would You Rather" or just conversing.
- Take turns visiting each other's worlds.
Make a point to do something special with the family at least once a month. Take turns choosing activities, and agree to participate, even if it's not your cup of tea. Maybe the teenager wants to go to a concert, or the kindergartener wants to go miniature golfing. The parents might want to go to a museum or a sporting event. The opportunity to engage in activities as a family that each member enjoys apart from the rest gives you special glimpses into each other's lives and personalities. Now, that's quality time!
- Volunteer together.
If your family enjoys getting involved, make a commitment to volunteer as a family. The opportunities are endless, and they can range from "adopting" an immigrant family or playing games with elderly folks at a retirement community to putting together care packages for troops or the homeless. Volunteering together promotes positive communication and strengthens family bonds.
- Exercise together.
Make good health a family priority and a way to spend quality time together. A family membership at the Y is fairly inexpensive, and it offers a range of activities for the whole family, from swimming to wall-climbing to shooting baskets in the gym. You may even consider training together for a 5k or other race.
- Institute an Electronics-Free Hour.
Whether it's over dinner or the hour before bedtime, try instituting a no-electronics hour each night, or even just a couple of nights a week. Turn off the TV and put away the phone, and do something as a family, whether it's playing a game, taking a walk, having a conversation, or going for ice cream.
Making time for quality family interactions will lead to better relationships, a healthier family system, and a higher quality of life. Best of all, it'll give you the opportunity to really get to know the people you love best.