As a parent, it can often feel like you’re burning the candle at both ends. After a long day of work, nothing sounds more appealing than sitting down and relaxing for the rest of the night to enjoy some peace and quiet while your child plays in their room or entertains themselves on a tablet.
Sometimes, you may not even have that option if your kids are involved in sports, arts, or other extracurricular activities.
When you do finally have some time for yourself, it’s understandable to want to “get out” and enjoy a social life with your friends.
However, none of these are necessarily healthy or acceptable routines to slip into. If you do, you’ll miss out on crucial bonding opportunities with your kids and/or teenagers that you’ll never get back. People like to talk about kids growing up in the blink of an eye, and it truly can feel that way sometimes.
Family time is important for both parents and kids, and it should be a priority in your life no matter what else you have going on. It’s normal to be exhausted sometimes and to just want a night to yourself. However, it’s crucial not to let it become a habit.
Let’s cover the importance of quality family time and how to incorporate more of it into your life with your loved ones.
Bring Back Family Dinner
Family dinners used to be a major component of the stereotypical American family. However, over the years, family dinners have changed. Parents and kids are busier. Activities continue later in the day. Electronics and technology have made it easier for everyone to eat at different times in different rooms.
However, sitting down for a meal as a family is about more than just fitting a stereotype or creating a Norman Rockwell-esque image. Regular dinners allow you and your family members to reconnect at the end of each day. It can take some creative scheduling and possible adjustments to make family dinner work every night, but even sitting down together a few nights a week is better than nothing. Family dinner’s biggest benefits include
- Having fun with your loved ones
- Learning about what your kids are going through
- Strengthening your bond
- Getting your kids interested in cooking and food
- Teaching responsibilities
- Sparking creativity
You don’t have to produce a gourmet meal every night. No matter what you have on your table, focus on the company and the time you have together. Create an ideal environment by choosing the right colors for your dining space, using warm lighting, and setting the table in an inviting and comforting way. When you make family dinner a priority, you might be surprised by how quickly it becomes everyone’s favorite part of the day.
Read Before Bed
When your child was younger, you probably had a nightly routine of reading them a book or two before they went to sleep. Unfortunately, it’s easy for life to get in the way again, and you might find yourself rushing through their nighttime routine now, so you can get some time to yourself.
If it’s been a while since you’ve read to your children, consider adding it back into both of your lives. Dedicating a special time to read a book with your child will strengthen your bond, and can have a profound impact on how they see the world. Reading to your child can also help them to develop a secure attachment from an early age, benefiting them into adulthood. Children with secure attachment bonds to their parents typically
- Have high self-esteem
- Get involved in healthier relationships
- Have an easier time expressing their feelings
While reading before bed is a great way to help your kids wind down and improve their sleep hygiene, reading at any point during the day is beneficial for cognitive development and creativity.
You’ll also benefit from this dedicated time. Reading helps to improve sleep, can reduce stress, and can boost your concentration and ability to focus. Plus, you’ll learn new things along with your child and have an easier time seeing the world through their imagination.
Ditch the Digital Devices
Frankly, it doesn’t matter what you do with your family, as long as you’re dedicating yourself to it. Setting aside time to focus on your kids (and partner) is all that matters, whether you take a weekend camping trip or walk around the neighborhood after dinner.
A good rule of thumb, no matter what you do, is to leave cell phones and tablets behind when you’re spending time together. This shows your child that they’re getting your full attention and they’re the most important thing to you. It sets a positive example for them and can show both kids and teens that technology should never be more important than relationships.
No matter how you choose to spend quality time with your family, focus on being present. The things you do together now will shape your kids for the future and will create memories for you that will last a lifetime.