Long ago, the roles for adults in the family were narrowly defined. (Most of the time) Moms stayed home with the kids, cleaned house, and prepared meals. The home and kids were mom’s domain. It was normal for dads to be the breadwinners. They worked all day and came home to their family at night.
Times… “they are a-changin,” as Bob Dylan put it.
Roles have drastically changed. Moms and Dads typically have many roles. Personally, I am a wife, mom, employee, PhD student, and blogger. There are so many additional roles parents take on these days: volunteer, PTO President, 2nd job, 3rd job, grandparent, guardian, coach, board member, caretaker, etc.
With all of these roles, how do we ensure our family is getting the attention it needs and deserves? It can be a challenge some days, but the truth is, sometimes you have to make time. Plan it, schedule it, put it on your calendar, rearrange for it, whatever it takes. Family time is so incredibly important.
Family time doesn’t have to be elaborate. It doesn’t require expensive trips or hours of your time that you just don’t have. Family time isn’t about the money or time. The most important aspect of family time is what it fosters within our family unit.
Why is Family Time Important?
Family time is important for your children as well as your family unit.
Family dynamics are different for everyone. That’s more than okay. There are single parent households, grandparents who have become the parents, foster families, etc. Whatever your situation may be, when I say family time, I don’t mean a few members of the family spending time together. In this context, I am referring to family time as the complete unit spending time together.
So, why is it so important that the entire family spend time together?
It encourages and opens communication. Spending time together allows more communication to take place. Communication is extremely important within a family, and different people communicate in different ways. If a family is not great at communicating, this allows them time to practice, even though it doesn’t feel like practicing.
It builds a child’s confidence. When you make time for your children, it conveys the message that they matter. Studies have shown that involved parents have children with high self-esteem.
It instills a value in your children. One way we teach our children is through our actions. Sometimes the most valuable lessons are taught this way. Do you ever catch yourself saying or doing something that your parent or grandparent said or did for you when you were a child? Maybe it’s something that has no significance on life values or maybe it is. Either way, it stuck with you. When your children see you make time for them, it will stick with them too. You are creating a value for them that has the potential to last a last time and transfer to their children.
Simple Ways to Spend Time Together as a Family
Let’s get to the fun part! Here are some simple ways that you can spend time with your family:
1. Build a fort inside. Who doesn’t love building a fort with tables and chairs? Young children will be especially fond of this one! Watch a movie, read a book, or play a game with them inside the fort. This can easily be a BIG hit!
2. Create your own pizza. This is a lot of fun! We try to do it often in our house. You can buy pre-made crust or make your own. Let everyone make their own pizza with whatever toppings they choose.
3. Watch a movie together. Movies are a great way for everyone to spend time together. Exhausted from a busy week? Watch a movie together. It takes zero energy and still allows you to spend time with your family.
4. Go camping. Find campgrounds close by, and schedule a night to get your family out of the house and into nature! Trying and learning new things creates bonds between people. It is surprisingly refreshing to have a break from electronics, news, and social media. If there aren’t any campgrounds nearby, try your back yard. Not an outdoorsy person? Camp in your living room!
5. Let the kids help. If you’re working on a project around the house, let the kids help. Kids can help bring tools, measure, clean up, and even get in on some of the actions. Not only will this allow you to spend time together as a family, but it will build a child’s confidence by making them feel “big.” Same goes for chores, let them help.
6. Give to others. Find a local organization you can donate to. Clean out your closets or the kid’s toy box and take it to be donated together. During the Christmas season there are great options for this. Since I can remember, I have participated in Operation Christmas Child sponsored by Samaritan’s Purse. You fill a shoe box with items for a child and it is sent across the world for those who do not have a Christmas. This is great to do as a family!
7. Have a picnic. Picnics are simple and fun but often forgotten about. Pack some sandwiches and head to a local park, or anywhere you can! We use a waterproof picnic blanket, and they are super convenient! I use the same blanket to sit on the ground at sporting events, etc. Check them out here!
8. Take a family walk. This is a great way to encourage being active. Have fun with it. Ask silly questions. Race to that big tree. If you have a dog, you can include them on this family activity as well!
9. Play a board game. Our six year old loves to play board games. So, taking the time to play a game with him as a family means a lot to him. It can be fun for everyone! Our current favorite is Chinese Checkers. If you were to ask our four year old his favorite game, it would be Don’t Step in It. Yes, “it” refers to brown play doh molded to look like poop.
10. Build a garden. This is a great way to spend time with each other while also giving your children a sense of responsibility. After the garden is built, the seeds still need to be watered and, eventually, pruned. This is a great responsibility to give children of all ages. No back yard? You can easily have a small herb garden or window garden indoors!
Final Thoughts on Family Time
We are so busy every day. But, it is important to remember that once our children are grown, we cannot make them little again! Family time does not have to be elaborate. It can be simple. Don’t be discouraged by your schedule or amount of free time. Instead, be encouraged by the fact that kids tend to remember the simplest of moments as the most fun moments.
Don’t say… I’ll start tomorrow. Start today, before tomorrow gets away from you.
I would for you to share your own simple ways for families to spend time together! Drop a comment below.
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