I just read a mind blowing statistic. According to a survey conducted by the Nielsen Company, the average amount of time that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children is a mere thirty-nine minutes per week – or, less than six minutes per day! Six minutes per day? Really? Does this statistic surprise you? Do you and your family fall into this category? If so, you’re not alone.
Whether you fall into the six minutes per day category, or even somewhere else on the kid quality time scale, it’s likely that you have a desire to spend more time with your children. I think as parents, we all have the desire and intention of spending more quality time with our kids, but with life moving so quickly around us, those desires and intentions can easily be swept aside in favor of something else that seems to be more important at the time.
There are plenty of statistics out there to validate the difference that spending quality time with your family can make. Higher grades, lower divorce rate, lower teen pregnancy rate, lower alcohol, drug, and smoking usage, better health, and overall happiness are just a few of the proven benefits of spending more quality time with your family. This is one of those things that I think we all know, but still have a hard time committing to and sticking with.
So, what are some things that we can do to ensure that our families are getting the quality time that they deserve? Try incorporating a few of these family building strategies into your family life and see if they make a positive difference.
Tips for Increasing Your Family Quality Time
• Eat Dinner Together –
If you don’t regularly eat together as a family now, try making this a new family habit. I’ve heard it said that a family that eats together, stays together. If at all possible, “plan” family dinners for at least four nights per week. It isn’t the meal itself that is key, it’s the time that your family will actually be sitting down in the same spot at the same time that will make a difference. To engage conversation, our family likes to play a game called “Best and Worst”. We do a quick round robin at the table and each person talks about the best and worst part of their day. If there are things that you want to communicate / discuss with the family, this might be a good time to do it. I suggest keeping the dinner table a very positive and fun place for the family to hang out. Save the lectures for another time and place.
• Schedule Quality Time –
It’s funny, we will take the time to schedule things into our lives like appointments, workouts, phone calls, parties, etc., but we rarely take the time to schedule individual or group quality time with our family. By making quality time a priority and scheduling it into our busy weeks, we not only increase our chances of spending that time with our family, but we also send a message to our wife / husband and kids that spending time with them is important. I suggest that you make special individual dates with each member of your family, whether it be going to a ball game, going to the park, or something as simple as just grabbing a cup of coffee or an ice cream and having a nice talk.
• Full Family Activities –
Try scheduling events or activities each week that the entire family can do and enjoy together. It can sometimes be a challenge to satisfy everyone’s interest, especially if you have little ones, but remember that the purpose here is to get everyone in the same place at the same time. In our house, my five year old son Kyle is addicted to the board game “Trouble”. Although this game is simple and doesn’t take much thought, it’s one game / activity that he can compete with his older sister and parents on an even playing field. So, we play LOTS of Trouble in our house! Other great full-family activities can be going on a Sunday drive and turning it into an exploration trip, seeing a movie together, playing an outdoors sport / game together, etc.
• Create Family Hobbies –
Another great idea for family building is to get involved in a new hobby that the whole family can participate in. What hobbies can you think of that your whole family would enjoy and look forward to doing every day, week, or month? Maybe become huge fanatics of a baseball team and go to regular games together? Maybe learn how to fly model airplanes? Treasure hunting? Puzzle building? Give it some thought and see what new hobbies that you can come up with for your family.
Do you already place a high value on creating and spending quality time with your family? If so, what works for you? If not, what are you willing to do now to make a positive change for the benefit of your family? I encourage you to leave some feedback in the comments section below to let others know what works for you and your family, or to let us know what you’re willing to commit to now.
GO FOR IT!