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Science says that quality family time has a huge impact on your family life and on the social, behavioral, psychological and academic outcomes of your children.
We now know that families that spend time together are happier, share stronger bonds and deal better with difficult situations. And we also know that one of the things that many parents regret most when their kids are grown is not having created sufficient positive memories.
“What makes families strong”? Many researchers who have focused on this question have found that spending quality family time is one of the most effective ways of building attachment security, and this security acts an inner resource for children.
They suggest that shared experiences can increase prosocial behavior, boost individuals’ sense of security, improve mental health, and reduce intergroup conflict.
Many advantages are associated with strengthening your family bonds. Here are just a few reasons to make time to spend as a family.
Why everyone needs quality family time
Research says that the most effective way to reduce your child’s problem behavior is to work on strengthening your family’s bonds.
The available studies have found that:
- Spending time bonding reduces children’s behavioral issues
- Close-knit families are better able to cope with life’s challenges
- Quality time together acts as a buffer in families where parents are alcoholic. In other words, the parents who spent quality time with their children are less likely to transmit their alcoholism to them.
- Spending time together strengthens children’s sense of identity.
- Family bonding reduces sibling rivalry.
- Spending time together makes it easier for your family to deal with conflict.
- A strong family bond has a positive impact on your entire family.
The good news is that there are many simple ways to turn the moments spent with your kids into quality bonding moments that will be remembered for a lifetime.
Here are simple ways to get started.
25 ideas of things to do as a family
1) Read together: Adopting traditions around reading is an easy way to spend quality time with your kids, and it will help familiarize both younger and older kids with new words. For example, your family can adopt a read-aloud tradition or even start a reading marathon.
2) Prepare meals together. Even the youngest kids can participate by cutting up soft foods and vegetables if you give them safe Montessori-style wooden knives.
3) Share family meals. Eating together is one of the easiest ways to strengthen your family’s bonds. Several scientific studies have found that children in families in which meals were shared regularly displayed less problem behavior.
4) Adopt a gratitude routine. A gratitude routine can help boost your children’s happiness, improve the quality of their sleep, reduce their stress and anxiety, and improve their overall wellbeing. It is also a great activity for strengthening your family’s bonds. Here are three simple gratitude routines to get your started.
5) Undertake a home-improvement project together. Better still, use recycled objects to show your kids ecological ways to deal with waste.
6) Game night is a simple and great way for your family to bond, but you need to ensure that kids of different ages will find the games interesting. Qwirkle, Spot it, and Jenga are big hits in our family.
7) Start a jokes night and have every member of the family try to make the rest laugh! You’ll find that improvisation standiup comedy is hard work, but you’ll also spend some of your best moments as a family.
8) Hold a talent show. Let each family member put together an act to present in front of everyone: singing, dancing, playing a music instrument… the list is endless.
9) Start your very own family “Top Chef” and find a way to make even the littles participate.
10) Organize a family slumber party. You can tell stories, have someone start a story and let the other family members finish it, and then eat ice cream with everyone’s favorite toppings!
11) Start a video game night that every family member can participate in. Or come up with different teams and let family members compete.
12) Make pizza together. You can start a “pizza day family routine” (for example every Friday) during which all family members come together to make Pizza.
13) Write a book together – ambitious, but fun!
14) Start an “International night ritual” during which you choose a country to celebrate. Have each family member find out something about that country and present it during the international night. You can even get adventurous and add a menu with common food stuffs in that country (thankyou Google!).
15) Charades is a classic and it’s a great idea for family bonding. It is also pretty simple to set up.
16) Organize family Olympics on every first Saturday afternoon of the month (or even once a year if you prefer!)
17) Organize an outdoor or indoor picnic with everyone’s favorites. Spend even more quality family time by having every family member participate in preparing the picnic goodies.
18) Start a movie night ritual, with popcorn and the works! Or a movie marathon if you and the kids feel up to it!
19) Organize a family photoshoot and come up with fun ways to make it creative.
20) Go on a hike with your entire family. You can start a once-a-month hike tradition to ensure that you get to spend time together. Hikes are also an easy way for all family members to disconnect from screens.
21) Why not change things for a day and make the kids prepare the family meal? You can act as the helpers and let them take charge of things. Here are a few books to help get them inspired: Little Green Kitchen, Fantastic Eats! (& how to cook them) , Cooking Step by Step, 20 Recipes Kids Should Know
22) Going to a local event at least once a month or are whatever interval suits your family, is an easy way to bond as a family. Check out free or affordable local events your entire family is likely to enjoy within your area. Or you can go to the local library or pool together.
23) Organize a party just for your family. Organizing a party for your immediate family members is a fun way to ensure family bonding. Remember to take everyone’s needs into account: What would make everyone happy? How can everyone participate?
24) Start a “family day”. Why not pick one day of the year and dedicate that day to your family?
For example you can pick the first Sunday of every July and do something to celebrate your family: eat out, cook together, take a trip together, do a gratitude ritual (for example, every member of the family can write the things that they appreciate in each other and then share them during your family day).
25) Last but not least, start a family routine that makes each child feel important. I absolutely love this idea that Becky shares on her blog. Her family started a one-on-one special tradition with each of their kids – Every month, on their birth date, each kid gets special time with their parents (about half an hour).
In other words, if your kid’s birthday is on the 20th, every 20th of every month is their special day so they get special time with you to play games, read, and basically do things that they love. I absolutely love this “your special night” tradition which is simple to set up and to follow through.
An easy way to ensure that you get to spend time with your kids is to schedule some time every day into your agenda. Have everyone come up with an activity that they would like to do then put all the ideas in a box and choose one activity to do every day.
You can also try my FREE 30-DAY CHALLENGE that proposes activities your entire family will enjoy – and most of the activities only need 15 to 20 minutes of your time!
Final thoughts on bonding as a family
If you regularly feel guilty about not having sufficient time to spend with your kids, you are not alone! Obtaining a perfect work-life balance is still a struggle for many of us, and even many stay-at-home parents find it incredibly difficult to “always be there” for their kids.
But the good news is that bonding as a family has nothing to do with how much time you spend with each of your kids – it’s really about the quality of the time that you spend together. That means that even when you’re crazy busy, and when finding the time to read stories feels impossible, doing even simple things can ensure that you still get to bond with your family.
For instance, you can:
- Talk to your kids.
- Tell them about your day and ask about theirs.
- Tell them about things that you’re reading.
- Sing songs together while you’re doing other tasks.
- Do household chores together…