Piano, soccer, baseball, dance. PTA, scouts, 4-H. We can get caught up in everything our children do and everything we participate in. Take all of these activities and soon you’ll find you don’t have any time left in the day. When you’re always rushing from here to there, the importance of staying together as a family can get lost in the events, and families can drift apart.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Families can bond and be close together even if their schedules are swamped. Just like every other event, time needs to be carved out for the family together. Here are a few tips for making the most out of family life.
Dinner, Together, at a Table
If you can’t do anything else, you need to do family dinner. More and more studies are being done showing that family dinner equals a healthy home and family. The parents are more likely to stay together and the children are more likely to stay out of trouble. Family dinner is going to have more impact on your children’s lives than soccer or piano ever will. Carve out the time to sit down, around a table, eat food, and talk.
If you haven’t been in the practice of family dinners it’s going to take a little time before everyone will come around. Don’t give up. After a few tries you may find out things about your kids or your spouse that you never knew before. Carve out the time. It’s worth it.
Go to Events Together
Jane may have soccer at six and Matt may have baseball at seven, but that doesn’t mean that the family shouldn’t be involved in both Jane and Matt’s activities. Rather than splitting the family up, use that time to keep the family together. The older your children get the more likely it is that they will be away from the home. Take what time you can to be with your children and see if they aren’t more responsive to you in the long run. If they’re used to depending on you for help in times of need, they will come back to you for guidance when the going gets really tough.
Make One Night a Week Family Night
Even with all of your efforts to keep time with your family together, there will be weeks when everyone is so rushed that they don’t even see each other. This is where a good family night comes in. Just like you need dates with your spouse to strengthen your marriage you need time as a family to strengthen the bonds between parents and children. In my home, family night is Monday. It’s more than just clearing the calendar to spend time together it’s actually spending that time doing things together. Whether it’s playing board games or going to the park or getting a cheap ice cream cone, the family time is worth it and will pay off in the end. The more time you spend as a family the better you will come to know and understand your children and spouse.
No matter what you do, make time with your family a priority. If you really want healthy, happy kids, make time for them in your life and see if your family dynamic doesn’t change for the better.