In the busy days of families, it can seem harder and harder to connect as a family and have fun together. However, it remains crucial. To raise thriving children, it is vital we stay united as a family. I recently read a study that proved that QUALITY time with our children is directly linked to their success as an adult.
Study proves THESE 4 family times are the ones that matter
Even in the busy seasons, there are few ways we can connect as a family. I get it… Baseball on Monday, lacrosse on Tuesday, dance on Wednesday… we are living a busy life, too. However, I do not want our kids to feel the pressure of being busy. We let them pick one activity each season and just because we have a large family with a lot going on doesn’t mean that we have to lose time with one another.
Study after study seems to fall back on these same times that make the most impact on our children & their future:
1. Meal Times
Studies prove it time and time again: A meal together is not just for fun… it’s essential. There is something beautiful and special about eating dinner together as a family. If you cannot make it be dinner due to schedules, choose another meal or make it a standing family dinner date. During dinner time, you can chat about your day and connect with your family members in a meaningful way.
“For starters, researchers found that for young children, dinnertime conversation boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to. The researchers counted the number of rare words – those not found on a list of 3,000 most common words – that the families used during dinner conversation. Young kids learned 1,000 rare words at the dinner table, compared to only 143 from parents reading storybooks aloud. Kids who have a large vocabulary read earlier and more easily.
Of course, the real power of dinners lies in their interpersonal quality. If family members sit in stony silence, if parents yell at each other, or scold their kids, family dinner won’t confer positive benefits. Sharing a roast chicken won’t magically transform parent-child relationships. But, dinner may be the one time of the day when a parent and child can share a positive experience – a well-cooked meal, a joke, or a story – and these small moments can gain momentum to create stronger connections away from the table.” ~ Anne Fishel, a family therapist.
2. Your “tradition” times
Create family traditions. Scientific American states: “In a series of studies to be published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, hundreds of online subjects described rituals they performed with their families. Those who said they performed collective rituals, compared with those who said they did not, felt closer to their families. Most surprising, the types of rituals they described—family dinners with special foods, religious ceremonies, watching the ball drop in Times Square—did not have a direct bearing on enjoyment. But the number of rituals did.”
Whether it is pizzas on Fridays or game nights on Sundays, these little traditions can make such an impact on kids. They create memories for your children and they give your child stability: something to count on & look forward to.
It can be something as simple as having one day where you have fun after-school snacks or dinner at grandma’s once a month. Whatever it is- it will be important to your child because it is all about FAMILY.
Building in traditions helps kids to connect as a family.
3. Time to TALK.
Uninterrupted conversations matter. Aim to find a time where you can relax and hang out together. It does not have to be anything big or grand, just spending the day together will build in great memories. Maybe it’s 30 minutes on the back porch or a 20-minute walk around the block. The key is to talk to your child without anything distracting you.
“It can be surprising how easy and comfortable it can be to fall back into the ease of family life. Sitting on a front porch near sunset, rocking in chairs, and chatting without the interference or disruption of the TV, radio or phone can be a relaxing way to regroup and reconnect with one another. After a while, it is easy to forget how it sounds to hear your children laugh, or see your spouse smile or enjoy the simple pleasure of being with those you love. By keeping the importance of family days at the forefront of your lifestyle, all of this will come back and shortly the time together will be treasured and looked forward to.” ~ Stef Daniel, Professor’s House.
4. Technology Free Time (for EVERYONE).
Letting your kids see you doing something constructive with your time is important. Let them see you reading, building, drawing…
With the influx of technology, we need to create and build boundaries within our families. Decide on times when your family will put the phones down to have face to face connection. Start it with a few days of no electronics.
To be honest, our kids don’t use screens unless we are going on a trip. We do watch TV together and watch movies together, but they don’t go off to play on screens alone. It’s been wonderful for our family.
If you do have technology time, try to watch a series together.
Whether it is a television series or a book series, start something together. We recently watched Top Chef Junior as a family, and the kids loved having this time together connecting over a common thing. These moments may seem small, but they add up to meaningful moments in your life.
In the past, we’ve watched shows as a family (one show every night, for one hour). We like When Calls the Heart, Cake Wars, Love it or List It, Island Life, and more…
Making time to connect as a family will be one of the best things you can do in your life. Remember, it is in the little daily moments where the connection happens.
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