Time sure does fly! Between work, school, extracurriculars, and getting dinner on the table, we can easily slip into routines that don’t include meaningful time together as a family. But making time to connect and create memories is a worthy pursuit. Research shows that engaging in recurring, quality family time has many benefits, as kids “are less likely to have behavioral issues at home or at school” and better mental and physical health (Jones, 2017). Beyond this, quality time as a family leads to closer connections, life-long memories and fun for everyone.
Three Ways to Build Connection as a Family
1. Designate a special family night and rotate who picks the activity (and treat)
Once a week, a different family member gets the chance to choose an activity and a special treat/snack. Children usually love getting to be the one to choose something that the whole family does together. You may find yourself part of a whole house nerf gun war, a Lego building contest, water balloon fight, make-over party (how does dad look with a face mask) or game of “Sorry”. Kids engage more when they feel agency in the decision making process and setting aside a special night every week will help to build togetherness with consistency. Blocking it out on the calendar will help protect the time.
2. Find a volunteer project to do together
You may tell your children how important it is to give back to the community, but the message comes through differently when they watch you carve out time to do this. Volunteering as a family provides a unique opportunity to demonstrate your values in a practical and meaningful way. It can be an entry to learning about other communities and to building empathy. Doing shared work can benefit your community and provide a sense of pride and accomplishment as a family unit. Indeed, Utah State University notes that “family volunteering leads to increased marital and family satisfaction, improved parenting and conflict resolution, shared experiences and values, and foster bonding between parents and children”. You might try hosting a food or toy drive, serving a monthly meal at a soup kitchen, or contributing to a community garden. This Parents.com article has some great sites for family-friendly volunteering opportunities.
3. Plan an Outdoor Adventure
Does it sometimes feel like everyone is glued to their phones, TV or computers? Kids and adults alike rely more on tech than ever before. Being outdoors together creates space for distraction free quality time while you soak up sunshine. Consider sitting down as a family to make an activity wish list and then block out the time on the calendar to make it happen. Maybe you’ll play tourist in your own town, go on a new hike, play around with nature photography, see an outdoor play or concert, plan a picnic, or host a block party. The effort is worth it: The Child Mind Institute notes that youngsters receive several advantages of being outside including the promotion of creativity, confidence, and a reduction in stress. These experiences can create memories and help to build an appreciation for the wonders of the natural world.
Chances are, none of us is going to suddenly become less busy, so it is essential to plan time to prioritize togetherness. By soliciting each family member’s unique interests, setting aside dedicated, regular time together, and finding fun and meaningful activities to try, we promote closeness and connection. Don’t let this summer pass by without making lasting memories with your favorite people.