You Can Make It Work!
We’ve all heard about the importance of quality family time. And finding time to make quality family time happen may seem like another thing on the growing “to do” list. What is quality family time? Why is it so important? Are there ways we can make it easier for our family? Let’s look at the “what, why and how” of quality family time.
What Is Quality Family Time?
Some would say that ALL family time is quality family time and in a way that is true. Except when that family time is filled with conflict and tension. Quality family time is that time where family members are relaxed and non-stressed. It is a time where family members feel free to have open conversation. It is best if it is uninterrupted. I remember as a child, my parents wouldn’t let us answer the phone during dinner. It would interrupt our family time.
Quality family time can be a planned activity or it can happen in the midst of doing other things, like taking a walk, doing the dishes and folding the laundry. The key to quality family time is to be attentive to one another. It doesn’t need to be structured or take a lot of time. The important part is making connections and appreciating relationships.
Why Is Quality Family Time Important?
Family is the first social structure that children experience. It is where they learn how to communicate, how to interact and how to love. Creating a nurturing environment fosters healthy growth and social development.
A Sense Of Belonging
All humans feel a need to belong. We are hard wired for relationship. Kids are no different. By creating quality family interactions, your kids will experience a sense of belonging to your nuclear family and your extended family as you include relatives and friends.
Family life is where children learn societal values. Your family values are communicated to your kids by how you act, what you say and how you interact with others. Your children are watching you all the time. This is a tremendous responsibility. Provide quality family time so that your kids will learn the character traits that you value.
Learn To Handle Challenges and Celebrate Successes
Life certainly has its ups and downs. The support of a loving family carries children through challenges and trauma in life. When a child knows there is support at home, they are stronger when dealing with stress. In the same way, having a loving family to celebrate your success with you, makes your success even sweeter. We have all seen the joy in a child’s face when their parents watch them score a goal, perform a dance or get a good grade.
Demonstrate Love and Value
It is natural for kids to question their parents’ love for them or to think you love their siblings more. Spending quality time with your kids shows them how much you cherish and value them. Your time together builds a relationship around experiences and strengthens your bond. There is a quote that says it best, “Kids don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” If you want your kids to love and respect you, show them how much you care.
How To Make Quality Family Time Happen
There are two ways to make quality family time happen: deliberately and naturally. To make it happen naturally you just need to pay attention to the times during the day when you are together and give your family members undivided attention. To create deliberate opportunities for quality family time, you will need to choose activities, times and places for positive relationship building. I will share some examples below.
Create Quality Time in Daily Life
Each day you regularly interact with your family. Reflect on those interactions and see if there is a way to make them more meaningful.
Family meals are a great opportunity for quality time. If dinner time is too unpredictable, maybe breakfast is a time for the family meal. Start simply. If you don’t regularly eat together, try to change that so you can have 2-3 meals together each week. Turn off all devices and stay at the table until everyone is finished. It will seem awkward at first, but it really encourages conversation.
Household chores are another opportunity for quality time. When I lived with a group of friends, we committed to doing all the weekly chores together on Saturday mornings. It created a bond and the work got done quickly. Teach your children how to complete chores by modeling and supervising. Working together on something is a powerful way to connect.
Caring for pets
Caring for pets is another daily life activity that an lend itself to quality time. Take the dog for a walk with your child. Spend some time chatting about their day and sharing your day. Get to know your child’s dreams, passions, likes and dislikes. Help them to problem solve issues at school or friendship troubles.
Watch a show together. Let your child choose what show to watch and then talk about it. What made it entertaining? Was it realistic? Which character did they like best? Why? Tell them about the shows you watched growing up. My kids have great stories about the shows they were and were not allowed to watch!
“You will never look back on life and think, ‘I spent too much time with my kids.’”unknown
Deliberately Create Quality Family Time
Sometimes we need to take charge and create family time that is meaningful. The key to this is to also make it fun. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Create a new family tradition
Maybe your family has a Pizza Friday or a Taco Tuesday. If not, why not try it. Kids love those kind of family traditions and it makes meal planning easier. Another new tradition idea is Family Game Night. It could be once a week or once a month, you choose. The key is that regular family time together is important. Parents know how important Date Night is for their relationship. Family nights have the same effect.
Plan One on One times
Experts agree that kids need time alone with their parents. Make a commitment to spend time with each of your children regularly. Ideally this would happen every day. It can be short (10-20 min) but it must be uninterrupted and child centered. So let your child choose something you can do together. As with any new habit, it takes commitment to make it work, but the payoff is great.
Schedule Family Downtime
Everyone needs to take a break sometimes and this is true of families. So why not schedule a family down time. Downtime will mean that you and your kids may be bored, but that is good. Our bodies and brains need time to rest. So let yourself get bored…see what happens.
Start a Hobby Together
As a family or perhaps just you and your child, pick a new hobby to try and dive in. This will teach your child that you aren’t afraid to learn new things. It will show them that you are willing to be vulnerable. Who knows, you might uncover a hidden talent or passion.
Kids and adults benefit from daily exercise. Why not do it together. Let your child decide what kind of exercise they like and see if you can both get a good workout together. You will teach them the value of a healthy lifestyle and build your relationship.
Creating quality family time isn’t a burden, it is a joy. Your love and gratitude for your family will grow. By prioritizing the family, you are communicating your values to your children, expressing your love for them and demonstrating good parenting skills. This is the way to be a champion parent.