Summertime is a blissful time of year for parents and kids alike! Schedules are blurred, alarm clocks don’t exist, and spending quality time together as a family can happen on a daily basis. Once the school supplies hit stores, though, reality sinks in. It’s back to planning the weekly school schedules and after school activities, and everyone starts to go their separate ways. It’s not that the importance of family lessens, it’s just that with everything going on during the busy school year, there’s less time to spend together as a family.
Here we’ll discuss how to spend more time with family without it feeling forced or monotonous. Afterall, parents and kids should both have fond memories of growing up together that make them feel safe, included, and loved.
The Importance Of Family Time During The School Season
When kids and parents spend the majority of their week in school or at work, there needs to be designated times set aside where everyone gets to relax and spend quality time together. Quality time meaning everyone is present. It’s one thing to gather everyone in one place, it’s an entirely different thing to have everyone interacting with one another, doing a group activity or just talking! Especially for younger kids, school can be both a time for play as well as stress. Adjusting to new surroundings and new routines is a big step for children and teens, and it’s important to make sure they have the opportunity to share how they’re feeling at home.
Before hopping into our tips for spending time with family, take a look at what your current time together looks like. About how many hours per week are you spending together? Are you simply all in one place or are you truly doing things as a family? This will help you spot the gaps in your family’s current dynamic. Maybe you always sit down for dinner together, but then everyone disappears into their rooms. Start to take a look at your personal schedule. Are there a few brackets of time where you’re dilly-dallying around the house or scrolling on your phone? Those are all great opportunities for new family time. Setting time aside for the family each week will bring everyone closer and your kids will be more likely to grow up appreciating the importance of family.
7 Ways To Spend More Time With Family
1. Prepare dinner together
If you already spend meals together, that’s great! Cooking is a great way to get even more out of dinner time with the whole family. Pick one night a week where each kid gets to pick what’s for dinner. (If you have some rascals who would love ice cream for dinner, let them pick from a predetermined menu!) This way, they feel like they not only have a say in what they eat, but can also look forward to helping prepare it. If even thinking about having your kids in the kitchen with you during dinner time gives you anxiety, here are the best ways to do so in a fool-proof way:
- Pre-measure everything out so there’s less spillage (this includes ingredients as well as spices)
- Get a sear on or start to simmer any raw meat to avoid contamination
- Have towels close by in the event that a spill does happen
- Even if it’s just some flaky sea salt or cilantro, have a garnish that the kids will enjoy adding to the presentation of their dinner
2. Have a weekly game night
Everyone loves a good game night, especially on a Thursday evening to make the weekend feel a little bit closer. Plus, a good brain tease is fun and beneficial to growing noggins! It’s easy to get stuck doing the same puzzles and playing the same memory games over and over again, though. To avoid this, pick a few friends or a neighbor to trade games with. This is an easy and cost-efficient way to rotate games without having to constantly buy new ones or find places to store them! Set a day each month or so where everyone gets together and has a swap-meet for games. This will create a sense of community as well as teach the importance of sharing.
3. Get creative with homework time
All kids have homework, and most kids don’t exactly look forward to doing it. A great way to spend some time together and get your kids to enjoy doing their homework a little more is to switch up the scenery and do it outside of the house. Instead of going straight home from school to hit the books, go to a nearby park or library to do homework together outside. This is a great way to get a bit of your own personal reading time in, as well as be fully present and available for any questions your kids may have. Plus, a playground or open space not too far away makes for a great incentive to get work done faster!
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4. Teach them about your family history
Even though we are talking about immediate relatives when we ask how to spend more time with family, tapping into your ancestry is a great way to connect with your kids. Whether it be via a DNA test you take as a family, going through old scrapbooks, or making a family tree together, learning about the family lineage is a great way to connect future generations to past generations.
5. Enjoy self-care days together
Self-care doesn’t always have to be done in solitude. When kids are introduced to healthy habits at a young age, they are more likely to carry those habits with them throughout their life. Having your family join for a bike ride, a mini spa day, or even journaling in bed are all great ways to stick to your own self-care routine while also including them. These may be activities that you prefer to do by yourself, but spending time with family may take precedence over alone time sometimes, and that’s okay. One thing is for sure: you’ll never look back and wish you had less time together.
6. Add a fun twist to chore day
Instead of hastily trying to get chores over with, turn that time into a dance party! Music is the easiest way to change the mood of any environment. Instead of taking 15 minutes to clean up each room, turn up some tunes and dance through it. Maybe it takes closer to 30 minutes, but the time spent together laughing, grooving and being silly will leave your kids with a much better impression than chores alone.
7. Encourage more outdoor time together
This tip may take some warming up to. Whatever your allotted screen time is for your kids, cut it in half and use the time to get outdoors. This could be playing in the backyard, walking around the block, or taking the extra time to set up for an outdoor dinner. With more and more schools utilizing computer screens for homework and in-class assignments, kids are getting more than their healthy dose of screen time each day. Fresh air and sunshine does the soul good, and sharing it together makes it that much more enjoyable.
The Bottom Line
There may not be a way to add time to our days, but there are certainly ways we can better utilize the time we do have. If you’re starting to feel like you’re missing the family under your own roof, it may be time to reevaluate the time you have together. You can start small with steps like device-free meals and work your way up from there. Every second counts, and there’s no time like the present to get started!
When you think about how to spend more time with family, in turn, think about how you want to spend more of your own time. If you’re craving more outdoors time, take the family to the beach. If you’re craving some more downtime at home, plan a pizza and movie night! Need to exercise? Take the gang for a bike ride to get coffee or go to the kids’ museum.
Spending time with family should be just as refreshing as much-needed alone time—like that moment of calm and peace you get when you sip on a relaxing cup of ZzzTox tea. Find what works for you and your family and make adjustments as needed. After all, everyone only lives under the same roof for so long. Enjoy it!
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