How many of us spend more time working than we do with our families? Time is something we all wish we had more of. Day to day, we work many hours away from home to take care of expenses and support our families. Oftentimes, parents feel guilty for not being able to spend quality time with their child(ren) and partner; I know I do!

According to the article “Spending Quality Family Time Together is Very Important” by Suzanne Pish of Michigan State University, “ A strong family finds that opportunities for quality time emerge from quantity time: The more time you spend together, the better chance you have of sharing quality experiences.”

With hectic work schedules and after-school activities, it can be helpful to schedule one evening every week for special family time. This special time together is meaningful for all members of the family, especially children! Have each member of your family pick a different, fun activity each week. That way, everyone feels included and can try something new. Doing things a child or spouse wants to do also sends a strong message of love.

How much time should families spend together?
While this varies from family to family, families with young children usually spend the most time together because young children need a significant amount of care and attention. In fact, Pish points out that, “Children learn to bring balance to their lives when they see their parents setting aside time for what they value.” Families with teenagers often spend less time together because at this age, teenagers tend to gravitate more towards their friends in their free time.

Looking for ideas on how to spend more quality time with your family?
• Eat meals together without any distractions from radio or TV.
• Stick to a work/play schedule. Set specific dates and times for family activities so that school and work deadlines do not interfere.
• Have a set bedtime for children so that you have extra time to accomplish tasks related to school, work or your home.
• Plan a regular date night for you and your partner (when your mate is happy, you might be happier too!).
• Enjoy family movie nights.
• Engage in group exercise that all members of your family can enjoy (running, biking, walks through the park, shooting hoops, etc.)
• Instead of tangible gifts for birthdays and holidays, give experience-related gifts such as outings to the zoo or museum or tickets to a sporting event.
• Take advantage of “family free days” at nearby attractions.

These are only a few suggestions to assist you in spending more quality time with your family. Depending on your own unique situation, these suggestions may or may not work because each family is different. However, each of these ideas can be tweaked to fit your family!

How do you spend quality time as a family?