September already!? School bells have rung and any day now the leaves are going to start changing colors. Heather here, from FamilyVolley.com. I am excited to share with you some tips for finding family time, now that school is back in session.
A new school year means family life gets a little crazy and a lot busy, which means family time can easily go out the window. The question is, how can we focus more on family and less on the hectic lifestyle we are living?
Here are 8 suggestions for finding family time:
#1: Turn off TV and Technology
This suggestion is actually magic. Start turning off the TV and time will magically multiply in your home. Take the time you used to spend (or your kids used to spend) watching TV (and on the computer, iPad, iPod, video games, cell phones) and put that time towards your family. Turn the TV off during meals, all meals, especially dinner, and spend meal time talking and being together. In fact, consider turning the TV off Monday through Friday afternoon. We implemented the “no TV during the week rule” two years ago and it has made all the difference in the world. At first the kids argued that they wanted to watch when they didn’t have homework, even if it was a week day. We stuck to our guns and kept the TV off. Now they don’t even ask, but instead we go out to play, go for walks, read together, run fun errands. With no TV to tie us to the couch. You will love the difference it makes in your home. There will be less contention. There will be more talking amongst family members. More will get done around the house and you will appreciate the calm atmosphere. There will be more time for homework, reading, talking and playing. Don’t believe me? Here is a TV post worth reading. Remember, TV and Technology are not bad, but there are better things for families to do than spend excessive amounts of time watching TV. Plus, having the TV on in the background adds another level of noise and stress.
#2: Limit Your Children’s Activities.
Limit your kids to one, maybe two, after-school activities. Shoot for one. This may be a harder decision for you than for your kids. It is natural for us to want our children to be involved in all sorts of activities and learn lots of different skills. Our children also get pressure from their peers and teachers to be involved in lots of different things. We have to make some choices. Remember, teaching our kids to make choices is a very important part of our job as parents. It is true that these activities build skills and can give our kids a sense of what they can do, but time spent with the family gives them a sense of who they are. Plus, if your kids are always away from the family at their different activities, they can’t be spending time with the family.
#3: Limit Your Activities.
As parents, we need to limit our activities too. A good rule to follow is no more than one night out for each parent, per week. When we are gone all the time we can’t be there for our families when they need us. The rituals that build closeness- bedtime stories, walks after dinner, playing games, talking-can’t happen when Mom and Dad are always gone. Don’t over schedule yourself. This doesn’t include Date Night. Date night is essential to keeping marital relationships strong and on track.
Establish a dinner ritual and stick to it. Set a family rule that all family members are expected to be there to eat together. This could be one of the most important rituals you can have with your family. Do what ever it takes to sit down together. Make sacrifices. Make it special. Light candles, set the table, use special dishes. Don’t discuss discipline issues, don’t answer the phone, turn off the TV and technology. Make it a safe place where every family member feels loved and accepted. If dinner is impossible for you to eat together, eat breakfast together. Just try your best to eat together everyday. It is automatic family time.
#5: Get Some Sleep.
Set a bed time for your children, and for you, and then stick to it. When we are rested we feel calm. When we are calm we are better able to deal with our families. We are more calm, more clear headed, more loving and compassionate and patient. I can hear you now, you are saying the same thing I say every night “I have too much to do and I only have time after everyone is asleep.” I hear you. I understand. I am the same way. Regardless, our children need sleep to handle all that they deal with during the day, and so do we. Here is the thing, if we are not over scheduling our families, or ourselves, then we will be able to admonish this suggestion. Do what needs to be done, and let the rest go. It will still be there in the morning, promise. Added bonus, keeping to a good bedtime schedule for our kids will also give us time with our spouses nearly every single night. Time together can be hard to come by.
#6: Read Together.
Whether it is at night as part of your bedtime ritual, or during the day, find time to read with your children everyday. We read stories every night before bed. We also like our reading tree. We take a blanket and a book outside and sit below our favorite tree and have reading time together. Great bonds are created when we sit down and read together. Most of our children have to read everyday for school anyway. Why not do it together? Sit back, relax, and let your children read to you.
#7: Cook Double.
Dinner is one of the hardest times of the day. Everyone is tired, hungry and there is much to do. Simplify your meal prep so that you can spend more time with your family and there will be less stress. One way to do this is to cook double. Double your recipes, freeze, and save half for another night. It is worth finding a dinner plan that works for your family. Plan ahead, try to prepare, and simplify.
#8: Plan a Fun Family Activity Every Week.
Friday nights are perfect for a family activity. They don’t have to be expensive. Be creative. Check out what your communities and cities have to offer. Take a hike, play a game and make a homemade dessert. Anything together. I know a family that goes out every Saturday night together. The children take turns planning the activity. They are given a 5 dollar budget. They have been carrying out this tradition since their children were very small. The children have become so creative, most of the time they don’t even need the 5 dollars. These weekly activities give your families a chance to regroup, and reconnect. If you need ideas for GREAT family games, pick up a copy of “Family Fun Friday’s”. The games and activities are new, creative, use resources you have at home, and can accommodate all ages and abilities.