Everyone has a busy schedule, but making sure that you schedule quality time together should be one of your major priorities. Studies have proven that quality family time together can help increase social and academic skills, as well as, prepare your children for the future and how they can raise their future family in a manner in which will pass on traditions from generations to generation.
The following is a list of things to help you increase quality family time without breaking the budget. Most of these items listed will not cost you or your family a single nickel, but the memories that they will create will be priceless.
1. Make a point to have a meal with your family at least once a day.
If you or one of your family members cannot make dinner due to some kind of scheduling commitment, consider having lunch together, or even getting up a little early and sitting down at the table to have breakfast together. Having the entire family sitting around the table sharing a meal each day is very important for the bond that is created among all family members. This will give you the opportunity to share with each other about your day and help by offering some much needed advice to others sometimes. If for some reason you miss a day, don’t stress over it. Just try harder again tomorrow.
2. Cut out time either weekly (or better daily) that is set aside for no-technology family time.
We all know that technology has consumed the attention of everyone. This includes parents just as much as the kids. When you are together, make it a rule that all cell phones or devices are turned off and set aside. As you are reading this you may be saying to yourself, sure easier said than done, right? Well, just try one simple thing. First, set a time, maybe an hour or two, in the future when devices can be used again. You will be surprised how this will work, and it will get to a point where you will not even have to ask. It is important to note that if you expect this of your children, you should honor this as a parent. Children follow by example.
3. Have a monthly family game night.
Schedule your family game night in advance, and talk it up as you reach the date. You might even want to pre pick what game you will be playing and challenge the kids to the outcome. Whether you win or lose, it doesn’t matter. By “advertising” the game night, and giving some sort of ownership to the children about the game, they will look forward to the competition. What you are gaining is the bonding and time spent together. Also, be sure to implement the no-technology policy during game night.
4. Have a monthly family movie night either at home or at the movies.
Similar to game night, schedule a movie. If you do not want to go out to the movies, maybe it is one that you have the family collection and you can watch it at home. Make an event of it. Put someone in charge of the snacks and drinks. Put someone in charge of making sure that chores are done (i.e. dinner dishes) so that everyone can sit down and enjoy the movie together.
5. Create a family, budgeted shopping spree.
This can also be done after #7 as a reward, but set a small budget for each person in the household. You can go to any type of store, but this can be played with groceries as well. See how much you can purchase just using your budget. Again, with this activity the competition will also create some great memories and bonding.
6. Read with your children (daily if possible)
Research indicates that reading to your children cultivates an interest in knowledge and stimulates language development. It also increases their attention spans and helps them become more curious. Look for books your child would enjoy reading. After reading, ask questions about the content. Once your children get older, continue with the reading, but turn it into more of a book study or club. Set goals to reach so many chapters each week and have discussion over the material that you both have covered.
7. Make a game of family chores and work on them together.
Almost every human is driven by success and admiration. We all have to take the time to clean our houses (or rooms) at some point, so why not make a game of it and work on it together. Create a chart of what needs to be done and place names next to the items that are completed. The one who is up on the board the most wins the game. Also, by breaking down the chores into smaller manageable checks will make it easier to get everything done so you can spend more quality time together. If you have to forgo something on the chart, there is always tomorrow.
8. Help your children with their schoolwork.
There is a difference between helping your child with their homework and just giving them the answer to be done with it. The point of having homework is for your child to learn the subjects deeper, so spend some time working with them to help them get the work done to the point that they understand it more clearly. You know your child and how they learn and if you show interest in the material as well, they will complete their work and understand it in a shorter amount of time. Another thing you can do is ask them to teach you what they are working on. Even if you know, people learn the topics better if they are teaching others about the subject.
9. Create a family hobby project and scrapbook.
At the beginning of the new year, set a family goal to create a scrapbook for the new year. You can use this time to take photos each day or collect items from family outings. Does the family go out for a movie night? Save the ticket stubs and add them to a page in your scrapbook with a selfie of the family standing in front of the movie poster outside of the theater. Think of other things you can do each day to add a new page to your scrapbook. .
10. Plan and have a dress up formal dinner at home.
Another fun thing you can do is have a formal dress up dinner at home. Everyone in the family dresses up in good dress clothes. You can bring out the good china and silverware, and have a formal dinner party. You can even have the kids create formal invitations and dinner place settings for the event. This can be at any time and doesn’t have to be a holiday or special occasion.
There are many other things you can do that don’t cost much if anything to set aside some special family time. Another one is to sit down as a family and come up with some additional ideas of your own.