Family time is fun, important and essential to a happy, healthy family life, but how do you fit it in when everyone has stretched schedules and important commitments?
You have to start by valuing it as much as anything else in your life. Here are seven tips to help you fit it in.
Making time for family meals allows parents and their kids to catch up on their days and just talk. "Fitting in time for family meals and including the children in the process is a great way to have family time," says Shnieka Johnson, an arts and education independent consultant based in NYC.
Set aside dedicated time for the family -- and make it a must-attend for everyone. "If you don't prioritize family time, it won't happen. It has to be like a job, with specific hours that never change. Otherwise, it becomes a lesser priority -- scheduled around other activities -- and quickly falls off the calendar altogether," says Eibhlin ("Eileen") Morey MacIntosh, a mom in Concord, NH.
Golfing together is a great way to spend time together.
"It provides uninterrupted family time outdoors and is also a great way to spend quality time with your family (and friends!)," says Tim Shaw of Golin-Harris.
But if 18-holes isn't your thing, mini-golfing can provide a good family-time experience, too.
Work often comes between families and family time -- and with reason: having a job is a must for supporting your family, but building your necessary family-time commitment into your work schedule can help.
"Having a firm, set schedule -- like 'the kids have soccer on Wednesdays, and Fridays are our family nights' -- keeps work demands from trampling family time. Bosses will try to override this anyway. If they try to break your existing agreement (and they will), they need to be reminded that it's a contract like any other," says MacIntosh.
Technology is a good thing, but when it comes to family time, it's a colossal distraction. Banning it from family time is a great way to help your family focus on one another. "Family dinner time is sacred in our home. No TV. No texting. No answering our home phone. We talk. Share. Laugh. And connect," says Cate O'Malley, a mom of two and writer of Sweetnicks.com.
Hearing about where you came from is a great way to share a sense of dimension and history with your kids. Just make sure you aren't rehashing the same story again and again. "Family traditions should be part of every family time, too. Don't make it a long-winded 'good ol' days' kind of tale the kids have heard 20 times. Instead, do tell a brief, relevant anecdote about your childhood or a family tradition so your children get a stronger sense of their shared heritage," says MacIntosh.
Who says that family time has to be something new, different or unusual? It can be something simple that you'd do anyway. "Remember that family time doesn't have to mean doing something out-of-the-ordinary. Making dinner, folding laundry or even cleaning up toys can be family time - just spend it together, talking or playing games. Folding laundry is a great time to play peek-a-boo behind shirts and towels, and making dinner is a fun time to look at pictures in cookbooks and get ideas for future meals," says Carolina Moore of www.AlwaysExpectMoore.com
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