Increasing Your Family Quality Time

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.

Middle Managers: The Overlooked Worksite Health Promotion Ally

According to a 2007 American Journal of Health Promotion article, “Manager Beliefs Regarding Worksite Health Promotion: Findings from the Working Healthy Project 2,” managers at all levels in companies with existing corporate wellness programs rated the benefits of having employee health promotion lower than managers whose companies didn’t yet have such programs.

This is unfortunate because managers, especially middle managers, are much more than permission givers who encourage employees to attend more classes. They can be valuable allies… or program saboteurs. Corporate wellness professionals must pay attention to these managers and cultivate a strong working relationship. A supportive and engaged manager creates the conditions within their work group to make and sustain lifestyle changes.

Managers’ attitudes toward wellness generally fall into 1 of 5 categories:

1. Active enthusiasts

2. Passive enthusiasts

3. Neutral

4. Inactive opponents

5. Active opponents

Moving any of them up even 1 level toward being a champion will reap huge benefits for the program.

Most managers are inclined to back the wellness program, but remain inactive in showing their support. By helping managers understand and develop the skills to carry out their responsibilities, they will feel more comfortable with their roles. At that point, once managers have meaningful opportunities to participate that are within their responsibilities, they’ll pick up the ball and run with it.

Clearly lay out the vision for the organizational wellness program. Explore the role wellness played in the company’s past. Every company has a unique history — how did employees pull together, overcome obstacles, and help one another to get the company where it is today? Presenting the wellness program vision to managers within a historical context links it to what the company is about.

For instance, company safety programs have a long history of keeping employees healthier through such initiatives as addressing alcohol, ergonomic, or sleep issues. Refer to the successes of the safety program and build on that history. If the organization has a longstanding commitment to being a good corporate citizen within the community, carry this history forward by promoting employee health and wellness.

Find the roots of the program in the past and tie it to the future. Then focus managers on creating workplace conditions for wellness program success and positive lifestyle choices.

The key to organizational wellness program success will be social… peer relationships, friendships, environmental norms. The Framingham study has shown the importance of friendships. After tracking an entire population over many years, they’ve discovered that people change health behaviors in clusters rather than individually.

Inform managers of key responsibilities within the workplace that influence sustained culture change, such as:

· Rewards and recognition — Offer praise, increased autonomy, access to needed resources, first choice on job tasks

· Confrontation — Ensure adherence to health-related policies while avoiding personal body language or facial expressions that imply disapproval or annoyance related to employee participation in programs

· Recruitment and selection — Build department reputation as a supportive environment for health-oriented people and positive health behaviors

· Orientation — Include information about policies and activities supporting health in employee orientations

· Training — Identify and correct areas in the culture that present the biggest lifestyle challenges

· Communication — Distribute information about work teams achieving employee health and wellness goals

· Traditions and symbols — Create periodic traditions and symbolic activities that clearly demonstrate the importance of health within the culture

· Relationship development — Support healthy activities for employees and their families, using strategies to move the unhealthy ones toward healthier alternatives and a culture of wellness

· Resource commitment — Advocate on behalf of the worksite health promotion program with senior management for time, space, equipment, and other resources needed to pursue wellness practices.

Health Insurance – Piece the Family Together by Breaking Up the Pieces

Buying health insurance as a family is like sitting around the coffee table putting a puzzle together. But instead of one possible outcome, the pieces can fit together to make an album of finished puzzle pictures. The strategy, however, is no different. The key to completing the puzzle is to find the corner pieces or flat-sided pieces so you can fill in the middle accordingly.

The corner pieces to your health insurance puzzle represent the make-up of your family. How many members are there and what is your budget? A Family Health Insurance plan can start with just two people. It is very common for a party of two or more to purchase a “Family” health insurance policy assuming their will be value-added benefits in terms of cost and coverage. In fact, the opposite is usually true. The overall benefits might be greater when you split the plan up if your family has three or less members.

Often times a family policy for two people can cost more in monthly premium than two separate policies combined. Plus, the deductibles and limits per person don’t change. A family of three will be somewhat similar. A family can really start to save money on purchasing a plan together when there are four or more members because the monthly premium stays the same after three family members and the combined yearly deductible can decrease.

The flat-sided pieces to your puzzle represent the needs of each family member. Some health insurance plans are more appropriate for males and others are more appropriate for females. Plans that don’t include maternity benefits can cost much less in monthly premium, often have low or NO deductibles, and can usually only be purchased by an individual. Some of these plans are even appropriate for women because they have an “escape clause” that allows the member to slide into a high-deductible maternity plan should she become pregnant.

How does your puzzle look now? It is time to fill in the middle and complete your puzzle. The final piece to this puzzle is your health insurance agent. Your puzzle’s picture can change from year to year and your agent’s job is to help you solve it.

By Erin Fish


EMF Insurance Agency, Inc.

EMF Insurance Blog

(866) 601-8790