Modern life can make it inherently difficult for your family to find time to spend together. Juggling jobs, school, extracurricular activities and various social obligations can take a toll on your relationship with your children. However, with a bit of ingenuity and dedication to making it work, there are plenty of ways in which you can fit family time – quality family time – into your hectic schedule.
Maximise the time you do have
Regardless of how busy your children’s and your lives may be, everyone has a few minutes or perhaps even an hour of downtime here and there throughout the day. Consider paying closer attention to how you use that downtime and you might discover that you can turn it into quality family time.
Take a look at your family’s weekly schedule and pinpoint where your moments of downtime overlap. Using a few minutes to check in with one another and have genuine conversations will help you maintain your bond as a family – and it’s a much better use of your downtime than flicking through TV channels or thumbing through an entertainment magazine.
Enjoy the little moments
There might be times when your family is together but you aren’t truly engaging with one another. For example, if you drive your child to and from school or their extracurricular activities, you might be spending that time listening to the news on the radio while he or she sits in the backseat with a set of headphones blasting at full volume. Instead of tuning out, turn down the noise and use the time to connect with one another. Ask a few questions about what’s going on in their lives, talk about any family holidays you have coming up, and enjoy a few laughs together. Using those brief and seemingly insignificant moments to the fullest will help you stay connected despite frenzied schedules.
Minimize screen time
While computers, tablets and smartphones have brought ease into our lives and put a world of information at our fingertips, they have also become a burdensome distraction. How many times have you been at a restaurant and seen an entire family disengaged from one another because their eyes are all attached to their phones? It is a saddening reality, but it’s one which you need not fall prey.
Your children in particular may balk at the idea – and indeed, it might even be difficult for you as a parent – but setting limits on screen time can help increase the amount of family time you’re able to spend together. If your schedules allow you to eat dinner together, even if it’s just a few times a week, consider making the dinner table a “no screen zone”. You might also consider instituting a rule setting parameters for the times of day when screens are and are not allowed.
Obviously, being online is often necessary for both work and school, including at the Australian International School. And social media has become an indelible part of life. But putting limits on screen time might be one of the best ways to ensure that when you’re together as a family you’re making the most of that time.
Make time even when it seems there isn’t any
If your family’s schedules have left you feeling overwhelmed and you can’t seem to find a single moment to spend together, it might be time to prioritize. In an effort to help you stay close as a family, you could consider making a few sacrifices. This could mean working from home in the evening instead of staying late at the office so you can at least squeeze in dinner with your children. If your child has a busy social life, you might ask him or her to skip an outing or two so you can reconnect. And the simple act of making an effort to be there for things like your children’s sporting activities and performances will show them that you care and want to be involved in their lives. Making time when it’s a precious commodity can be a challenge but the payoff is more than worth the sacrifice.
Quality over quantity
All things considered, it’s important to remember that the quality of the time you spend together is more important than the amount of time you have together. We at the Australian International School believe that family time is priceless. Simply do your best to make the most of it when and where you can.