Between work, school, sports, social engagements, appointments, household chores and more, it seems like there is less and less time for family bonding. The daily grind leaves minimal time for sitting down, spending quality time together and having family conversations. If you feel like you are constantly running at a ragged pace, rarely spend much needed time with your family, and only cram family time in IF there’s a break in your schedule, you are not alone.
According to a recent Nielsen total Audience Report, Americans nearly spend half of their day — 11 hours — consuming content … by themselves. This includes listening to media, watching, reading or interacting with it all together.
“ALONE WHILE TOGETHER”
Last summer, the American Time Use Survey released by the U.S. Department of Labor revealed that in 2017 Americans spent the most time (2.8 hours a day) watching TV. Meanwhile, socializing and visiting with friends consumed only about 39 minutes out of 1,440 minutes per day. That’s less than 3 percent each day!
The survey also showed (in 2017) that adults spent more time watching TV than interacting with others. This means that even when families are home together, they are often “alone” together engaging in technology like television or social media.
How does this “alone while together” time affect our children? Afterall, the more time we spend on activities that don’t involve in-person socialization, the less time we are teaching our kids these important life skills.
Doreen Jajack, LSW, character effect specialist at Beech Acres Parenting Center, recommends finding more time to socialize with your kids. According to Jajack, it is important for parents to be intentional about creating quality time. One great way to make more quality time is by starting with a family meeting.
“Check in with everyone,” says Jajack. “Ask all family members, ‘What is going well? What do we need to work on? How can we accomplish what we need to work on?’”
Ask everyone to share things that they did well during the past week, whether it was helping a sibling with homework, using problem-solving skills creatively or remembering to take out the trash. This creates family bonding as well as increases family connection.
“It also gives time for parents to model appropriate skills for kids and to discuss everyone’s feelings,” she continues. “When you have that regular time, you really start to open these lines of communication.”
DEFINE FAMILY VALUES
Jajack also recommends talking about things that matter to your family — defining your values — and creating family value statements together. This is about defining who you all want to be as a family and it is a tool to help strengthen your bond. But carving out together time should be your focus.
When you make the effort to spend quality time with your kids, they will feel more valued. And when your kids feel valued, their self-esteem increases.
Look at your calendar and see what can be crossed off or postponed. Better yet, catch yourself at home spending time online and turn it off. Go read a book or play a game with the kids. Research shows that spending time as a family is not only important for your child’s emotional intelligence it can increase your child’s desire to be social while building parent-child bonds, trust and open lines of communication.
Here’s your challenge — pencil in some quality family time this week! Better yet, do it in ink!
Tips & Tricks for Building TOGETHER TIME
Here are some easy ways you can open the door to family time!
THEME YOUR TOGETHER TIME
Ink in time on a real family wall calendar so everyone can see what’s coming up to look forward to. Have a Family Game Night one night a week. A Taco Tuesday Night; a Family Walk Evening and so on.
EAT MEALS TOGETHER
This is hard to do these days, but DO make the effort. Make the meal table a “no technology” zone. That means no smartphones, no tablets, no laptops. And turn off the TV, too. It’s now time to talk! Need conversation starters? Go around the table and have each person tell about their day, what they did, who they saw, what they ate, what they liked or didn’t like. And try telling each other stories. Soon enough you’ll be amazed that everybody enjoys this time together.
Set aside time at home to play board games. When families sit together playing games they automatically loosen up and just enjoy hanging out. Fun games like Apples to Apples; The Game of Life; Sequence; Codenames; Clue; Sorry and more are fun as heck to play together.
PRIORITIZE FAMILY TIME
Family time is precious. Learn to say, “no” to obligations of lower importance. Demand that a “keep work at work” value be instilled.
CREATE TOGETHER ROUTINES
For example, read one chapter of a book together each night before bedtime. Or, decide as a family what movie you might watch together after dinner (if homework is done!). Another great way to spend time together is in simply having a catch in the backyard. With the weather getting nicer, it’ll be time to get to the park together.
SCHEDULE VACATION TIME
Try to schedule at least one family trip each year. Have your kids help plan the vacation by exploring options online — this is when technology is GREAT together!