A new school year means readjusting to a schedule that frequently includes lots of extracurricular activity, in addition to homework and responsibilities at home. While we want our children to be active, their happiness relies on another key ingredient: family time.
Experts point to a number of reasons why family time is important. When parents and children are fully engaged in an activity together, a child feels important and loved. Time spent together also gives a child the chance to voice their thoughts and feelings and helps strengthen communication skills.
Family time offers parents a window into a child’s strengths and weaknesses, which can help them guide their child through various stages of development. And, spending time together ultimately strengthens the parent-child bond.
While we may have the best intentions about spending time together as a family, it’s also easy to get derailed.
How can you fit family time into a packed schedule?
Family meal time.
Some family experts call mealtime the centerpiece of solid family life. From choosing the menu and preparing the meal to eating together and cleaning up the dishes, mealtime provides plenty of opportunity for bonding time. Ask children what interests them – and not just about school! Dare to dream at the table together.
Doing some physical activity is a healthy way to spend time together – even something as simple as hiking, biking or going for a walk. Watching your child play a sport is also important and helps them know that they matter to you. Take the dog for a walk or toss a ball in the backyard – whatever it takes to spend time together and share some conversation.
Develop hobbies together.
Maybe it’s drawing pictures or making crafts. Perhaps you like baking or gardening. Sharing a hobby together is a great way to start a conversation.
Spend time together playing a board game or learn a new card game.
Embrace the arts.
Attend a concert together, or visit an art museum. Learn about something new and you’ll share a lasting memory.
Put together a grocery list and go to the store together, or…
Whatever your child’s age, you can read a book together, – or choose a book for the entire family to read and create your own book group. Engage in discussion about a book’s plot, the genre or come up with alternate endings as a creative way to start conversation and encourage your child to express their own ideas.
Family time doesn’t have to involve a great (or any) expense or an extravagant plan. The key is to spend time together, developing a family connection that makes everyone feel loved and important.
This Polish proverb says it all: You have a lifetime to work, but children are only young once.