January 17, 2020

Six Ideas for Spending More Family Time Together

Families spend a mere 37 minutes of quality time together on the typical weekday, according to a recent U.S. study of 2,000 parents with school-aged children. Top reasons for the lack of family time include long hours spent at work, the kids’ school schedule, TV watching and weekends spent doing chores.

The study, which was commissioned by Visit Anaheim, found that 60% of participants described their average daily lives as hectic and 25% of respondents felt that lack of family time is a “problem.”

While parents struggle to keep up with increasing demands and busy schedules, it can be challenging to find ample time to connect with partners and children. However, one realistic way to increase time spent together is to build family activities into the weekly schedule.

Here are six ways your family can spend more minutes in the day bonding and having fun together:

Schedule a Weekly Family Night

Booking a regular night for family time helps ensure your family is prioritizing spending time together and away from cell phones and computers. Maybe it’s popcorn and a movie, a board game marathon, puzzle making mania, or an evening stroll and some ice cream–whatever it is, it should be enjoyable for the whole group. Plan something fun that everyone can look forward to throughout the week. It’s all about carving out time that you and your children can count on being together without distractions. 

Whip Up Some Healthy Recipes

Teach your kids a valuable skill while you bond! Cooking is a great way to work together while doing something that benefits the whole family (providing healthy food). Additional benefits of cooking for others include increased self-confidence and a wonderful sense of fulfillment.

You’re probably thinking, “There’s no time to cook meals from scratch during the week!” The key is to keep it simple. Many online resources provide healthy recipes that can be made in a slow cooker the night before or within a short amount of time.

Here are a few of our favorite family recipe resources:

Take a Seat at the Dinner Table

As children grow older and after-school activities result in busy evenings, it can be a little too easy to eat dinner while watching TV or standing in the kitchen. But the simple act of eating together as a family, and away from distractions, has several significant benefits that go beyond a better-connected family.

A 2018 Canadian study followed a group of children from infancy through childhood and found that social interaction during meals can help kids learn better communication skills. Listening to your child talk about his or her day also has the power to increase your children’s self-esteem, according to Standford Children’s Health. And if that isn’t enough, eating meals together can help prevent psychological issues and weight struggles in adulthood.

Take the time to sit at the table and enjoy your food with your family. You just might be surprised at how much you learn about each other!

Listen to Some Lively Tunes

With unlimited TV shows and millions of hours of YouTube video at our fingertips, we can sometimes forget the enjoyment of listening to music. Whether your children are toddlers or teens, you can likely find music that everyone will enjoy. Apps such as Pandora or Spotify allow you to easily explore new music. Pandora offers a free version that allows you to access a variety of playlists, including many that are geared towards young listeners.

If you have young children, peppy music may produce a high energy dance party. For older children, sharing music that you loved as a teenager, or listening to your teen’s favorite tunes, will help you get closer. Researchers have found that families listening to music together is associated with better parent-child relationships, especially for adolescent children.

Start a Family Book Club

We all remember a favorite book from childhood–a book that you wanted mom or dad to read over and over again. Reading as a family has so many wonderful benefits: it helps build a life-long appreciation of books, increases literacy, provides a time to learn important life lessons and share laughs, and creates a way to make great memories together.

One way to incorporate reading into your family schedule is to start a family book club! Book clubs can be structured to suit younger or older children, and they allow parents and children to connect through reading and discussion. Scholastic.com delivers a step-by-step guide for creating a family book club. Find more helpful articles on this topic with a quick Google search.

Help Others Together

Last but not least, volunteering allows you and your family to positively impact your community and other people’s lives while working together.

Volunteering not only affects people on the receiving end of your actions, it directly benefits you and your family. Helping others can lower the likelihood of depression and anxiety while increasing physical health. It can also help you learn new skills. Interacting with people different than themselves may help your children develop empathy and a better understanding of the world around them.

National Mutual Benefit provides many family volunteer opportunities through our fraternal branches. Contact fraternal@betterlifeins.com to find out what kind of opportunities are available in your area!

 

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