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Keeping Family a Priority
Family time is an important way to build and strengthen relationships within your family. With so many activities and responsibilities each day, it may be difficult for your family to find time to spend together. Although challenging, the benefits of having time together are worth the effort.
In fact, it may be easier than you think to create ways to spend quality time with your children, and this time gives them a sense of security, love, and belonging. In this episode, we will show you three different areas where you can spend time together and give you ideas for each.
First, spend time by working together – There are always tasks that need to be done at home, so find ways to complete them with your children. Try a few of these ideas for accomplishing household chores in ways that can be fun and easy:
- On slips of paper, write down small tasks to do around the house, and place them in a jar, then have your child choose one out of the jar. Your child is more likely to do small tasks that require short amounts of time like dusting, vacuuming, or putting away laundry.
- Prepare a meal together. Your child can help with simple tasks such as finding the vegetables for a salad, pulling out utensils, or mixing ingredients.
- Put groceries away together. For young children, this provides a great opportunity to begin pre-reading and math skills. Your child can sort items by color, count items as he puts them away, or search for letters among the items.
- Set up an area and time for you and your children to complete work together. At the dining table, you can take care of bills, homework, or other paperwork while your children draw, color, or do their homework. This way, you can also help them with their projects.
Second, create special activities – Schedule expected events each week or month for the family to enjoy together, so they can plan around these days and look forward to special activities. Here are some ideas for family activities:
- Plan a picnic at a park, a beach, or even the backyard. Let your children help pick the location or plan the menu.
- Take a trip to a local tourist site. Some attractions such as zoos, aquariums, museums, or gardens may offer discounts on certain days.
- Go to a movie theater or watch a movie at home. Afterwards, talk about the movie. Ask, “What did you like about the movie? Why was it funny? What would you do if that happened to you?”
- Take a walk together. Infants can be pushed in a stroller, or carried in a sling.
- Play together at home, with building blocks, drawing, board or card games, or charades.
- Work on a project together, such as a big puzzle, making a family photo album, or making gifts for grandparents and other relatives.
- Read a book at home, at the library, or at a bookstore. Children will enjoy participating by taking turns selecting the book. Let older children read to the family.
- If you have infants or toddlers, plan activities that involve them. Encourage older children to spend quality time with their younger siblings in order to build the bond between them.
And finally, Schedule Family Meetings – Planning regular gatherings to talk about the family can also be a helpful way to strengthen the family unit and keep communication open. As with family activities, scheduling regular family meetings once a week or once a month can help your family avoid missing these important meetings. Meal times or times after a meal may be a good time for you to meet.
During the meeting, ask open-ended questions so your children will respond with more than “yes” or “no.” Be sure to ask older children to be patient listeners with their younger siblings. Some topics for discussion:
- Good news acknowledging your child’s school, athletic, or artistic performance.
- News affecting the family such as job changes, a new baby, or the start of the school year.
- Family planning including vacations, family activities, or arrangements for school drop-offs and pick-ups.
- Events of the past week, such as a trip to the dentist or doctor, or activities at school.
- Concerns or frustrations like a child’s struggle at school or with friends, or family chores not getting done.
As dedicated parents, all of your efforts at work, school, and other settings help make your family successful. It is helpful to sort out which activities are most important for your family’s needs, because it allows you to balance your time and energy between being with your children and fulfilling other responsibilities. Ultimately, it is the special time that you share with one another that keeps your family happy and healthy.
You can find a printable version of our “Family Time” brochure, as well as additional brochures and podcasts on a variety of parenting topics on Children’s Home Society of California's website at www.chs-ca.org.