In this millennial age controlled by iPhones and iPads, parents and children are spending less and less time together as a family. There are so many commitments that get in the way such as, work, house work, appointments, schools, and sometimes its almost impossible to find time to sit as a family and just listen to each other. American Demographics reported that parents today spend 40% less time with their children than parents did a generation ago. So what are we missing now? What is different now to 20-30 years ago? It all boils down to the fact that they did things together. They read books together, they played sports together. Everywhere parents went, their child/ren were with them. So how can we change this today? Choose an activity to do with your kids and implement it 2-3 times a week. Build memories by keeping your family time creative and enjoyable.
Here are some tips to help create better family time:
Most children today don’t know the etiquettes of a family dinner time. You say “no phones or toys” and they act like the world is coming to an end! This time that we have is used so poorly these days as it allows conversation to happen and allows families to communicate and become closer to each other. It gives parents the chance to listen and give advice and encouragement. If everyone is actually listening it can increase confidence and sense of worth as it shows that others are interested in what they are saying. You wouldn’t want to talk to a person who is not looking at you as you speak but will be constantly look at their phone or at the TV. It would make you feel like you are boring. So using this time to show children how to listen as well as talk is imperative as well. Of course we mustn’t forget that its also rude to talk with mouth full so maybe implementing a turn talk rule would be good here!
Research shows that reading to your children invokes curiosity and can also help with language development. I have found that by getting the books out and reading with my eldest, it has made him much more calmer and has increased his attention span hugely. Bring this time into your day can be simple. For us, it was so much easier to do this after bath time as he would be winding down and in that mood that he still wants to play but not run around. It can be in the bath even. There are lots of good bath books that they can read. Get both parents involved by both sitting at the bath with your child. I have two kids and both kids are bathed together. This increases that family time and can also be a good laugh with all the splashing in the tub. Look for books that are colourful and you think your child would enjoy reading. After you have finished reading, ask questions about the book and what they liked best. What was scary? Ask them to point out certain characters. Enjoy this time together.
Now, we all know that kids like to make more mess rather than clear it up. Bug if we don’t teach them to clean then who will? If you are forever cleaning up then when will you spend time with the family? The answer – delegate. If your kids are at an age where they can help a bit then give them that responsibility. Part of what goes on in the home is the development of teamwork and responsibility. The whole family had to work as a team. You will be surprised at how much your kids will actually enjoy doing their bit. Make a cleaning hour where the whole family is cleaning and sorting. Give your children a basket with all their clothes that need putting away- once their basket is empty, then they get dessert or a sticker. Make a chore chart, so even Dad knows what he needs to do, yes dads you will need to get in on the action as well! Doing chores with your child will help foster good communication skills.
▪️Help with schoolwork
Getting a child to sit nowadays it’s so hard to do their homework so the best thing as a parent is to sit with them and like the fire and learning by helping them with their school work. A parent’s eagerness to help will cause a child to become more interested in school, improving his or her grades. Take them to the library each week and let them choose a book to read and then read that book with them home. Helping should begin with an understanding that children are responsible for homework so remember that while you are helping them you should not be doing the work for them. We as parents are only there to help our child get organised and in courage them to come and get help when they are stuck. Don’t forget to give lots of praise when they get things right and reassure them that when they get things wrong they just have to try again.
▪️Start a hobby or project
Starting hope your project is not have to be hard work to use the phone activity that your child is interested in whether that is cooking crafts or even biking or even football. All these activities can open the door to exciting family time. When your child learns a new recipe, or was able to make a rocket, or score a goal, let her take the lead with your supervision. Doing these things as a family together will increase the bond that you have between each other and you just make things a lot more fun, even if it is cooking!
Ahhh here is the fun bit. There are so many videogames out these days such as the Nindendo Wii and the Xbox. Because of this, most kids are interested in just playing single player games. Maybe the way to include family time would be to introduce a multiplayer game on the Xbox and joining a little bit. As you are playing with this, maybe throwing a few hints towards the board games such as monopoly or a card game like Go fish. I remember times of me as a child and all of us sitting around the kitchen table playing monopoly until 2 o’clock in the morning because it was just so fun and so addictive to see who won at the end. However monopoly is still quite a long game so maybe start off with a board game like Cluedo. It will make them use their brain as well as being a fun game to play. What this will do is give you additional time to talk during the game play and nurture the relationship. Everyone knows that when you play board games one conversation can lead to another.
▪️Family Day Trips
Sometimes getting out of the house is the most important step. Get in the car and go for a drive to your local zoo or aquarium. Prepare a picnic lunch and visit the nearest park. Take time to play catch or teach the little ones how to ride a bike. A stroll in the woods will help you interact as you ask them what they can see, or looking at the little woodland animals. Also, a visit to the museum may spark a child’s enthusiasm and lead to good discussions as well as bonding time.
▪️Encourage athletic activities
Sports runs in my husbands side of the family. Football, hockey, tennis, badminton, you name it! Sports can not only strengthen the body, but also build a strong character and determination. Whether it’s kicking a football to a son or a mother and daughter nature walking, finding time for athletic events is important for a child’s emotional and physical development. This is a great opportunity for a family to interact.
▪️Create a Family Time calendar
Since many parents have hectic schedules with work, time with children often becomes a low priority, usually by accident or work. Post a calendar on the refrigerator and have parents and children pencil in special events. Knowing when you’re going to meet may also help you think of creative activities or outings. Write them down to create excitement! Commit to keeping this schedule free from interruptions. I have a calendar where every hour of the day is allocated to the children or work and it makes life so much easier knowing what you are doing!
▪️Pray together and attend a house of worship
Nothing is more special than taking a few minutes each day to pray with a child before bedtime. By explaining the purpose behind prayer, children will learn the importance of faith as the foundation for the family. Also, when parents go to religious services, they instill in their children a reverence for God. The family that prays together, stays together!
All in all, family is family and its our job as parents to keep the family as cohesive as we can. Interacting with kids is not only beneficial for us but for them as well as it creates self confidence, self awareness and most importantly the bond that last forever! So cherish it, as it wont last forever. Once the teenage years hit, its a whole new ballgame!