There’s no place like home. Families who eat together, stay together. Like mother, like daughter.
Family is important. We have endless phrases and movies (and research!) to remind us of that. But as another reminder, according to Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child, a positive parental relationship is one of the strongest determining factors in a child’s lifelong behavioral, physical, and cognitive health. Finding quality time to spend with our children, however, can be challenging.
Here are ten ways to incorporate more family time into your day.
- Family dinner. Eating together is a great way to connect. Everyone has to eat, right? Consider coming prepared with conversation topics, enlisting your kids as prep cooks, or doing something special (breakfast for dinner, anyone?).
- Movie night. Put on your pajamas, make popcorn, and choose a movie both you and your kids will enjoy. Maybe suggest one of your favorites from when you were a child. After the movie, share your favorite scenes and jokes.
- Play together. Playing is cognitively and physically enriching. Find age-appropriate play suggestions here.
- Storytime. If you already read books with your children before bed, that’s great! To get the most out of this activity, ask your child questions about the book afterward to see what they remember.
- Watch old family videos. Your kids are going to love it. Show them videos or photos of when they were little –or of you before they were born!
- Sing and dance. Put on some tunes and dance! More tips on how to incorporate music into your little one’s life here.
- Take them out for dessert. And consider making it the same place every time. Your children will always associate your special time together with your favorite ice cream shop, bakery, or restaurant. If you have multiple children, taking one child out at a time is a great way to make them feel special.
- Have a stay-cation. Play tourist and check out popular local attractions or restaurants. You choose one activity and let your children choose the other. Take pictures and make a mini-photo album or slideshow to remember it by.
- Go for a ride. Take the road less traveled, talk about what you see out the window, or put on an audiobook. You can also go to the park. Try out new parks in your city, point out the different trees and plants, and take advantage of wide-open spaces.
- Do chores together. Model the way! Teach your children the importance of tidiness and give them small, manageable tasks to complete while you both clean the house. Turn on the radio for extra fun.
Remember: Oftentimes with family time, it’s quality over quantity that matters. When you’re with your children avoid multitasking, minimize interruptions, and give them your full attention. Have fun!
Myrna Garcia is a clinical psychologist with a specialization in Early and Preschool Education. She is trained in childhood learning difficulties and has worked with children of all ages. She has been a preschool teacher and has worked with kids in STEAM programs, as well as teaching a second language. Myrna is very interested in Early Childhood Development and will continue helping parents get informed and work with their kids.