Family time together is the foundation of building strong, long-lasting relationships. It’s how families invest in one another and grow together. Scheduling regular family time is key to keeping your family foundation intact, and well … it’s also a lot of fun!
With our over-scheduled, often frenetic lifestyles, having regular family time is not always an easy feat to accomplish. With sports, extracurricular activities, and even church activities thrown into the mix, we our lives become busy to the brim. Time can slip away from us too easily. We simply must be intentional about putting family time on the calendar. Chances are, if we don’t schedule it, it just won’t happen. And as time goes by, everyone in the family eventually becomes accustomed to doing “their own thing” … so when family time does happen, it feels awkward.
What Does It Look Like?
Family time is hard to define. We know that every family is different, so it stands to reason that your definition of family time will vary from house to house and family to family.
In some families, it’s pulling out the board games, or gathering together to watch a movie and eat pizza. Some families hold regular weekend family dinners. Maybe you play a sport together, or all share a particular interest or hobby. In our family, we like to go play paintball together on Sunday afternoons!
Whatever family time means to you, it’s important that you take time to make it a priority. Don’t waste your precious time trying to fit into someone else’s definition of “family time” – do what works for your own family and don’t feel guilty about it.
It Takes Effort
Building relationships doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. As your family ages and grows, you’ll notice that family time changes too. It’s important not to give up on it when the toddlers become teens! You may think that your teens are too “cool” for family time, but the truth is, this is when they need it the most! The teen years can be filled with emotional upheaval and regular, scheduled family time gives teens the stability they may not even realize they need.
It’s Never Too Late To Start
Want to enjoy regular, quality family time? It’s not too late, no matter where you find yourself in life. Here are some tips to get you on track.
- Don’t assume it will just happen.
It will take planning and effort. You need to schedule it. Put it on the calendar and make all family members aware of the day and time. If you have regular family meetings, discuss it together and decide on a date and activity. Remember, you as the parent or grandparent must “steer the ship” and set the example.
- Choose activities that everyone can enjoy.
Don’t pick your favorite excursion or activity that no one else enjoys. Think about each member of the family and what they enjoy doing. Find common ground. Sure, it will require a little give and take on everyone’s part to find a mutual activity, but it is worth it.
- Respect everyone’s schedule as much as possible.
Don’t force spouses and kids to completely give up other non-family activities they love. Make family time fit into the grand schedule as much as possible.
- While you are at it, schedule one-on-one times with your spouse and kids when possible!
Everyone loves a little individualized attention. Date nights with your spouse are very important. Scheduling one-on-one time with each of your children is important too. Just recently I took my son to get his hair cut (at a salon, a diversion from mom cutting it at home) and we enjoyed lunch afterwards. I figured it was no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but he thought it was wonderful. He thanked me over and over for our “special day” together.
Last But Not Least … Be Present.
Don’t schedule family time together and then find yourself checked out in the moment. In other words, don’t check your work email while the kids sit on the couch and watch the movie. Being in the same room with them isn’t enough – you need to be present in the moment!
Make a conscious effort to put away any distractions. If necessary, make each member of the family “turn in” their phones for a short time. Minimize your distractions. Make each member of the family aware of the expectations during this precious time together and just enjoy one another.