Spending time with family is important, especially for children, but finding the time in order to have complete unstructured family time may be more and more difficult to come by.
Many families run on tight schedules these days. In most families, both parents work full-time and kids are enrolled in any number of after school activities. With such hectic lifestyles, it may be hard to make time to enjoy each other’s company. Studies have shown that there are plenty of benefits to spending quality family time. Family relationships help kids build relationships with others, it helps their academic performance, and it can even help their overall health. Here are some ways to make time in your busy schedule to help make sure that you squeeze some time in for your kids and your whole family.
|Family Time at the table|
1. Have a home cooked meal. Kids who eat dinner with their families are much better at forming and maintaining relationships, perform better at school, and are even healthier. Home cooked meals made from scratch are usually much healthier than fast food meals grabbed on the go, and they also provide kids with the opportunity to become acquainted with what they are eating. Sitting around the table and having a quality dinner together is beneficial for the whole family while creating lasting memories. If you are pressed for time and think that it may be impossible to cook when you’re swamped with work and busy schedules, take one afternoon or evening out of the week to prep meals ahead of time. Do all of the prep work and simply stick the food in the refrigerator until it’s ready to be prepared. Even if you don’t eat a home cooked meal every day, having at least a few will help improve your child’s health and will help get in some quality family time as well.
2. If you can’t eat in, eat out! If you are, in fact, too busy or too tired to cook, it might still be helpful to spend a meal time with everyone in the family out at a restaurant. Dining out can be fun, but usually only if children are a little older. But planning an afternoon or evening around a family meal at a restaurant can be both fun and relaxing. Even if you are not the one cooking, everyone is gathered around the table, making conversation and spending time together. You can pick a day out of the week if possible that is family night out time.
3. Plan a movie night. Between sports practice, after school activities, work, meetings and a variety of other things, it may be difficult to find an overlapping period of time where everyone in the family is free. If you have the luxury of examining everyone’s schedule ahead of time, even if it is just by a few days, schedule a movie night at home. Get popcorn and kick back – you can all take a breather from your hectic lives and unwind while also enjoying some family friendly entertainment together!
|Family Movie Night|
4. Make small talk. There may be days where you find that everyone in the family seems to be in different places at different times. With this sort of schedule, it may be difficult to really catch up and have a quality conversation. For kids, it is always important to have strong interpersonal relationships, and parents can still accomplish this by taking time out of their day to ask their child about school, what they’re up to, or even just shoot the breeze. Having conversations with kids, especially ones where you treat them like contemporaries, helps boost their self-esteem. When they hear that you are genuinely interested in their thoughts and feelings, they will take the time to form genuine answers which can be vital to their personal and mental development. Even though more unstructured family time is preferable, even small interactions can build up over time and will still mean a lot.
5. Take a break! Even when we’re unwinding and relaxing, we can find ourselves preoccupied. Whether our eyes are glued to our phones, laptops, or even the TV, it’s important to take a step back and interact with those around us. Sure, indulging yourself in some entertainment can help relax you after a long, busy day but it is much more important to interact with your family, make conversation, or even share in these activities together.
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