Set yourself on the path to more family quality time by making a few simple adjustments to your frazzled life.
The concept is simple and effective: Make a standing dinner time so your family can organize around it. Take a cue from our European friends and parlay mealtime into conversation and relaxation. Consider making a few standing rules as well, like no discipline talk, no TV and no phones during this time.
"Please turn off all electronic devices" is something you've heard in the takeoff announcement, but it works just as well at home. Completely stow away the phones, PDAs, video games, etc. and do nothing. A blank spot in your schedule for nothing more than lounging together is perfectly ok.
Nothing takes away stress better than getting yourselves moving. Consider a daily walk together, a weekly bike excursion on a neighborhood trail or a hike in the park every now and then.
Pack lunches and pile the kids into the car. Fill up the gas tank and head out of town for a good old-fashioned drive in the country. The point is to go somewhere together and talk along the way.
Of course, learning a foreign language and playing a team sport are important, but kids don't need to do everything at once. Let each of your children choose one or two activities at a time, and save the rest for later.
Make cleanup a family affair. Kids can unload the dishwasher, run the vacuum, scrub the bathtub or fold laundry. Let go of your control issues and know that, while they might not do these chores as well as you do, their efforts will open up more free time for everyone.
Cut the clutter by letting the kids sort through their things and sell what they no longer use or need. Put the earnings toward something fun you can do together, such as a trip to the movies or an amusement park.
What better way to unwind on the workweek's final day than with a good old-fashioned game of Twister, Monopoly or Old Maid. Have a pizza delivered and enjoy the company of the people you love.
When thinking about quality time, consider the fact that quantity may be just as important in reinforcing the bonds and establishing the foundation of a functional, but fun, family.
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