Busy work days and mile-long to-do lists often keep kids and parents from spending the ideal amount of quality time together. Schedules are chaotic, and trying to just relax as a family proves to be a challenge. But spending time as a family boosts relationships and family bonds. While it may be tough to work around everyone’s schedules and the daily grind, kids and parents reap many benefits from time together.
According to the Family Focus Blog, family time helps kids perform better in school and helps teach kids how to be a parent. Children who spend quality time with their parents also are less likely to have behavior issues and are at a lower risk for turning to drugs and alcohol for solace.
For parents, spending time with children helps them gain a better understanding of their child and helps them stay involved in their child’s life. But quality of time is much more important than the quantity of time spent with children.
In a Washington Post article titled “Making time for kids? Study says quality trumps quantity,” writer Brigid Schulte dug deeper into a study that was released regarding the time parents spend with their kids. Schulte interviewed the researchers that uncovered the truth behind the amount of time spent with our kids, and it turns out that parents are spending more time with kids than ever before. However, the time spent with children is only truly beneficial when parents are involved…not just sitting in front of the television or devices (the blue light from screens is damaging to eyes anyway, per Business Insider, and may lead to cataracts). And family time is more important during the teen years than in childhood.
The study also revealed that too much time with a mother who is stressed can have a negative effect on a child, and the child’s wellbeing also is impacted by a mother’s education level. In an interview with the Post, one of the study’s authors, Melissa Milkie, of the University of Toronto, discussed the findings.
“If we’re really wanting to think about the bigger picture and ask, how would we support kids, our study suggests through social resources that help the parents in terms of supporting their mental health and socio-economic status,” Milkie said in the article. “The sheer amount of time that we’ve been so focused on them doesn’t do much.”
Instead of counting up the number of hours parents are spending with kids, they should focus on the priceless interactions of the moment. Spend quality time with kids to bond and share conversation. Here are five creative ways to connect with your child in a meaningful manner:
- Family meals.
Turn meal time into family time. Ban devices at the table and focus on having meaningful conversation. Ask kids about their day or discuss your day. Open up the table to any topic of discussion. You may be surprised what your kids bring up!
Time spent in the car driving to dental appointments, sports practices or to the store is an opportune time to chat with kids. Involve them in the grocery shopping, too! Ask kids to help you shop, and let them add a few items to the list.
- Book Clubs.
Start a family book club. Read a book that correlates to the youngest family member’s reading level and discuss it as a family. This is a great way to encourage kids to read outside of their typical reading minutes.
- Game night.
For teens and tweens, pick a challenging board game or just a game of skill (like Jenga!). Some families love Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble or Monopoly. Or you can pull out the Wii for fun competitions like Mario Kart or interactive dance games.
- Bowling leagues.
Start a family bowling league…or just adopt a night each week to go bowl as a family. Even teens will let their guards down and get crazy! Knocking down those pins also is a great stress reliever, and it’s so much fun!
However you decide to spend family time, make sure the moments together are worthwhile and priceless. Don’t snap millions of pictures or sit silently on a device in the same room. Relish the time. Enjoy the moment. Your kids will remember…and you will have priceless memories!