Making Time for Family Time
The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.
—George Santayana, American philosopher
American pianist Michael Levine says, “Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist.” To be an asset-building parent and an asset-building family, you need to spend time together as a family. A number of families have found creative ways to do this so that they can connect in meaningful, positive ways. Consider some of these ideas:
Tips for . . .
- all parents
- Designate a regular family time as part of your routine. Some families have a weekly family night. Others have a monthly family outing. Others have a daily family check-in during dinner or before bed. Figure out a routine that works for you and your family.
- Have fun together. Do activities that make you laugh, and enjoy being together. Some families play sports together. Others tell knock-knock jokes. Others have tickle fests.
- Get your kids’ input on how to spend family time. You may be surprised to learn that they want your family to get out more—or stay home more. Kids often have good ideas.
- If you attend a congregation, go to worship services together as a family. Participate in family-friendly congregational events, such as family volunteering.
- Eat meals together as a family. For discussion starters, visit Make Mealtime Family Time.
- Your family often will bond more if you can get out of the house and do something together where you don’t know other people. Take a trip to another city, suburb, or county and discover what’s there. Go to a sporting event, a museum, or a play.
- parents with children ages birth to 5
- Choose short activities that your children enjoy doing. Spend family time at a playground, a park, or at the library.
- Get down on the floor and hang out with your child. Ask your child what he or she wants to play and join in.
- Keep family time stress-free by following a routine where family members get enough rest, alone time, and together time. Parenting young children can be intense and exhausting, so pacing yourself is essential to enjoying each other’s company more.
- parents with children ages 6 to 9
- Continue to expand your child’s world by visiting places as a family that your child has never seen before, such as a train depot, a radio station, or a park where people go canoeing and kayaking.
- Encourage your kids to make up new rules for familiar games. Kids at this age love creating new twists on old favorites.
- Do something active together. It’s too easy to have a weekly family TV night where you watch a show together. Mix it up. Play hopscotch outside. Go for a bike ride. Go swimming at a local pool. For more ideas on how to be active together, check out Family Time Calendar’s Get Moving.
- Sometimes include grandparents and other extended family members in your family time. Show how your family includes not only your nuclear family but your extended family as well.
- parents with children ages 10 to 15
- Follow your child’s interests and do family activities around what they want to do. (Take turns between family members so that you’re not doing the same thing over and over.) Some young teenagers enjoy sports, art, music, or visiting a certain store. As kids get older, they hear about places and activities from their friends that they’d like to explore.
- Encourage your child to invite a friend when your child begins to resist spending time with your family. Expand your family to include friends.
- Kids at this age sometimes get interested in activities such as cooking, gardening, tinkering with a car, and woodworking. Teach them the skills they’re interested in and do these activities together as a family.
- Consider getting the resource: Conversations on the Go: Clever Questions to Keep Teens and Grown-Ups Talking.