Between household chores, planned activities, school and work, you might find that your family is spending more time apart than together. In order to maintain deep, satisfying connections with your nearest and dearest, be intentional about making time to be together. Here are a few tips on where to find those seemingly elusive hours to make your time with your family worthwhile.
LEARN TO DELEGATE
Certain household chores are necessary to keep a household operating smoothly. Current reports from the bureau of labor statistics state that women spend slightly more time on chores than men. Whether it’s folding the laundry, doing the dishes or scrubbing the floors, make it a point to tackle household tasks as a couple! These can be perfect times to talk about your day, listen to music together or make future plans. Check out your budget and see what you might be able to hire someone to do. Perhaps you can hire someone to clean your home, have the babysitter help prepare meals or use a grocery delivery service. Anything you can do to clear up your own schedule will allow you spend more quality time with your family.
INVOLVE THE KIDS
A parent’s job is to raise their children to be independent, functional adults. Select age-appropriate chores for each child and take the time to teach them how to do them correctly. This will help your kids become more self-sufficient while you get in some quality time together. Once your kiddos have learned how to pitch in, your household will run smoother, allowing for more family time together.
Make a point to have dinner with your family every evening, and it will become a ritual your children will learn to expect. Kids who eat with their parents on a daily basis tend to be happier and do better in school, both behaviorally and academically. Consider mealtime as an opportunity to get to know your kids better; ask them about the best part of their day as well as the worst part of their day; inquire about their friends and their favorite subjects in school. Overtime, you will get to know them as they grow and develop far better than if you skip the sit-down supper.
“Anything you can do to clear up your own schedule will help you spend more quality time with your family.”
Focusing on your couple relationship sets a good example for your kids to take time out for themselves. If your couple relationship is strong, you will also be able to attack daily struggles together as a solid unit. Giving your kids time together as siblings without you around will also allow them to bond on their own. Additionally, letting them have time with a trusted babysitter or a family member gives them room to form meaningful connections of their own.
Schedule time with your family that can’t be broken — an uncompromising reservation on your calendar, meaning no meetings, play dates or appointments can be allowed to interfere. Stay in the house and have a craft day, check out the local zoo or let your kids lead the way and choose an activity. Regardless of what you choose, make sure nothing gets in the way of your time together.
USE YOUR VACATION TIME
There are staggering amount of Americans that do not use their vacation time. This is time that is allotted to you to take time away from the office and spend with family — take advantage of it! Whether you decide to rent a cottage for a week or plan an epic staycation, don’t let it go to waste. It’s been proven that vacations strengthen family bonds; parents report learning far more about their kids while on vacation than in day-to-day interactions.
Today, children and parents alike are glued to their electronic devices. There are also the ever-popular tablet and video game systems that distract kids from quality face-to-face time. Set aside a couple of hours each evening to unplug as a family, preferably just before bedtime, to set the example of how to decompress without electronic stimulation.
Kerry Hart, LLMFT is a couple and family therapist in private practice. She is located in both East Lansing and Grand Rapids. www.kerryhartcounseling.com