How To Balance?
Whether you’re a stay-at-home, work-at-home, part-time job, full-time job parent, or somewhere in between, we can all agree on two things. We’re given countless demands in our daily lives and there aren’t enough hours in the day to handle them all!
Picture this modern-day scenario: You get the day started by getting everybody ready, packing bags, and making breakfast.
Then it’s off to work, school, daycare, or home school. The day just started and you’ve already been all over the place! Promptly followed by sports, after-school activities, errands, homework, and getting ready for bed.
Everybody eats dinner, at some point, often very quickly. Before you know it, it’s time to start getting ready for the next day. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. I’m sure most families can relate to some version of this crazy cycle.
Plus, consider this -various screens competing for any time that’s left in the day.
Despite all the technology and gadgets that we have to make things more convenient and complete things quicker, we still find ourselves with not enough time to do the things we actually love.
Like spending time with family. Yes, we may bewith our family throughout the day, but we are often too busy to actuallyspend time together.
Benefits of Family Time
Healthy familial bonds and relationships are an important part of a child’s early development. It fosters growth in their emotional intelligence and facilitates healthy interpersonal functioning.
After all, we all want our kids to grow up and become good human beings!
Research conducted in the 1970s by psychologist Mary Ainsworth has shown the importance of these early bonds. There is other modern-day research on childhood attachment to support these claims as well.
These research findings have overwhelmingly shown that the early attachment between children and their caregivers has a lasting impact on how children grow up! This affects how they function later in childhood and throughout their whole life.
Spending time with family is extremely important,it also just feels good!
Family time can be amazing for older children and adults too! Time together with family has been associated with lower levels of stress hormones, reduced anxiety, a greater sense of satisfaction, and an increased general sense of wellbeing.
With our increasingly hectic lives, families are finding it more difficult to spend meaningful time together to bond and connect.
So, with our increasingly busy schedules, it means we just have to be a bit more intentional about finding time to spend together!
Setting goals for your family is important too. Planning goals, such as saving for a family trip, will make spending time together easier and more exciting. Check out thisblog for family goal setting!
It Doesn’t Have To Be An “EVENT”
Many times, the idea of “family bonding activities” and time together can carry theVERY inaccurate follow-up of requiring planning, organizing, scheduling, prepping, expenses, and other stressors.
Don’t get me wrong, these planned events are great when you can do them. But, more often than not, the simple things that you can do together will have the biggest impact and bring your family even closer together.
Oftentimes, the things families are already doing together can just be done in a more mindful way.
This makes them more meaningful. You can do everyday activities with a bit more deliberate awareness and focus on the here-and-now. This will change how you experience these daily interactions and will make them more fulfilling!
Changing your mindset can help make mundane family activities more interactive and help foster more meaningful connections with each other.
Time Together Will Look Different for Every Family
My family has an interesting structure, most families do. I have two older children from my husband’s first marriage, who are no longer living with us, and one-year-old twins.
Not only is it important to my husband and I to have family time with the babies, but we make it a priority to have time with our older girls as well.
Our family time sometimes involves our older girls spending time with their baby brother and sister, our older girls spending time with us, and my husband and I spending time with the babies.
However, my hands-down favorite is when we do activities we can all get involved in and enjoy together!
You should consider your family composition and individual preferences when choosing what family activities might work for you.
Sometimes, activities will work for everyone. Other times, someone might have to compromise. That’s okay! There are valuable lessons in that too.
What works for some families might not work for others. What’s important is that you’re spending meaningful time together.
When all else fails, don’t be afraid to try something NEW!
But First, Let’s Talk Self-Care
Taking care of yourself is an important first step in being available for your family. Make sure that you are getting adequate rest (I know, often easier said than done, but keep trying) and making the time to care for your emotional and mental wellbeing. Self-care is always important.
Okay, okay, I’ll get to it already! Here’s a list of my favorite family bonding activities that help strengthen our sense of togetherness.
You’ll see that most of the activities are simple daily or weekly activities. They help bring us closer together while also keeping stress to a minimum.
Playing Games Together
Games offer opportunities for children to work together and share, or allow them to experience some healthy competition. Children can also develop skills like turn-taking that will make everyone’s lives better.
You don’t have to limit yourself to board games though. You can play physical games like hopscotch, a hula hoop contest, or, when you have little ones like myself, building towers and knocking them down (the moreNicki’s you order, the more boxes you get)!
Dancing video games are also loads of fun. Right now, my daughter loves taking items out of a box and putting them back. When my twins are chasing each other, sometimes I just jump right in. You can make a game out of almost anything!
If you are feeling more playful, you could do a family game night! Snacks always make for more fun during game nights at our house.
Playing games helps to bring out each family member’s personality and can help build self-confidence. There are so many great opportunities for development when the family plays together!
Being outdoors encourages a sense of curiosity and exploration for little ones and grown-ups alike!
This can be as simple as sitting out together on the porch or in the yard. If you feel like making things interesting, play a game of I-spy or do a scavenger hunt together!
For a little more adventure, you can take a walk together on a local street, at a park, or do a bit of light trail walking. Outdoor activities encourage physical activity and help kids to burn energy (nothing better than sleepy kids at bedtime!).
There doesn’t have to be any serious discussions or formal planning events. It can just be a weekly check-in where everyone has time to talk about things that are going on with them. This can be particularly beneficial for families with teens.
Family meetings can also be used for planning meals, outings, or events. Children can learn skills like collaboration, organization, and communication from being a part of family meetings.
Sometimes disagreements can also be discussed, which provides an opportunity for practicing problem solving and conflict resolution in a safe, supportive space.
It also allows children to feel involved and gives them an opportunity to feel heard.
Cooking and Baking Together
Making meals together can be so much fun. It’s an activity that requires team-work and everyone can get involved in! You would be surprised at how early you can start inviting your little helpers into the kitchen.
Food can also be an amazing way to pass on culture to the next generation. There is no better way to pass on special family recipes than making them together with your family.
Cooking and baking with your children also teaches them a great practical life skill that will be helpful throughout their lives.
Children can feel a sense of accomplishment when the finished product is on display. The end product is also a sweet reward in and of itself, yum!
Not only did you get to spend quality time with your family, but now dinner is ready too! If you love your air fryer like I do,check out these great air fryer recipes for you and your family.
Sitting Down Together and Having Dinner
Eating meals together, when possible, can be one of the easiest ways to spend quality family time together.
If you can’t sit down together for dinner every night, choose a few nights each week and try to make it a priority. Pretty soon it will become a routine.
Some of my own favorite childhood memories are of me sitting in the kitchen while my older sisters and my mother were cooking, and of eating meals around the table with my family.
It is the perfect setting for conversation! It gives everyone an opportunity to talk while enjoying a great meal together.
Yes, doing chores together can be a great family bonding activity. Chores can be done together or they can provide special bonding time for you and your children. You can have someone do the dishes while someone dries them, and another person puts them away.
This develops teamwork and many hands make light work!
When doing chores together, you can chat, listen to music, sing, or yes, even make it a game! I remember my siblings and I would race to see who would get their task done first.
You can do small chores together or make a big cleaning day of it. In my childhood, Saturdays were always cleaning days. We would get a BIG pot of soup going and everyone would get started on their cleaning.
The house would be alive with music! We would be chatting, dancing, and cleaning all day! Then we would have soup after cleaning the entire house. It was fun!
Getting children involved in chores teaches them responsibility and life skills that will be helpful for their future.
One of my favorite childhood family rituals was our Friday Night House Parties. If you haven’t already guessed, I come from a large family.
Every Friday night, we would clear the furniture from the living room, get music going, and have a dance party.
We listened to a special radio program where every couple songs the DJ would interject and say, “It’s a Friday night house party!” I can still hear it as I write this, which is coincidentally on a Friday night..☺
Now, my family does dance parties, though not as often as I would like. This is an activity that we can all get into and doesn’t take a ton of work.
We take turns playing music we like, and the babies enjoy seeing us get silly. I love introducing the girls to music their father and I listened to as kids. It is also great to introduce the babies to music and dancing, sometimes they even start to wiggle!
Dancing is a great way to encourage kids to feel comfortable with themselves. They also get to enjoy having fun with their parents and siblings. Seeing my parents sing and dance as a child was one of the most amazing things I got to experience.
During our dance parties, we truly sing and dance like nobody's watching.
Who doesn’t love picnics! Again, eating together in itself is a great family bonding activity that is only further enhanced when moved outside.
The technical definition of a picnic is a meal that is taken outdoors as a part of an excursion. But don’t let Webster limit your fun.
Yes, by all means, pack a picnic and go to a local park, a trail, or to the beach if your geography allows it. But a picnic in the backyard can be just as fun!
Making it super easy and a ton of fun. If it’s winter and too cold outside, build a fort or set up a tent and have an indoor picnic! Trust me, these can be a blast!
Getting Your Hands Dirty With Gardening
Working in the garden is another great activity where everyone can get involved! It’s a great opportunity to spend time with the family and talk with each other.
Gardening teaches little ones the importance of delayed gratification. Their hard work is rewarded in time and they get to watch everything grow.
The whole family gets to enjoy the homegrown fruits and veggies, plus there's nothing tastier than fresh goodies from a backyard garden!
Go for a Drive
Going for car rides with the family can be an easy way to spend time together. Drives can be around the town, a scenic route home, or part of going out for ice cream!
You can also drive to a neighboring town and try a route you haven’t before. Chat in the car, listen to music, or talk about the things you notice outside. Your little ones can even have a specialall-in-one diaper print they wear for family drives!
Reading Stories Together
Not just at bedtime. You can read books with the older kids and talk about what you read afterwards.
Or you can try reading chapter books aloud with younger children. You’d be surprised that they might get into it and want you to continue when you try to stop. Take turns reading aloud to each other or do a family book club! Reading is a great habit to encourage.
Reading together and discussing it afterwards helps to promote reading comprehension skills!
Outings and Day Trips
Yes, plan day trips to the beach, an aquarium, a museum, the park! Or take a trip to the library or go shopping. Special events and outings are always fun!Diaper bags are perfect for outings.
Other Things to Consider
Again, many of these activities can be a part of things you already do everyday. The key is to make them more intentional.
Put the phones away if possible. Get the errands, homework and everything done. If it isn’t done, make sure it’s something that can wait. Then really focus on being present at the moment with your family.
If you aren’t already doing family activities together, it’s never too late to start! Start hobbies together like scrapbooking or putting together photo albums, then look through them together.
Stat traditions like a special movie on Christmas mornings! Or do an occasional movie night. Go camping; camping in the backyard or on the living room floor absolutely counts. Do a karaoke night. Work on a puzzle together. The options are limitless!
Consider inviting an aunt, uncle, cousins, or the grandparents to get involved. Creating strong connections with your family is important for building a sense of community.
It will also teach your children that they have a strong support system.
If you try an activity and it doesn’t quite fit or feel like it doesn’t work, try something, try it another time or do something completely different!
There is no right or wrong way. As long as you are doing something, then you are doing it right. Now, have fun and enjoy your family!☺