It’s a new year, and it’s time to reflect on what matters most in our lives. Whether you’re into New Year’s resolutions or not, a great goal for 2021 is to make quality family time a priority.
We all spent a lot more time at home in 2020 than in previous years, but has that time been spent together or isolated in separate rooms of the house? Spending too much time on our devices or alone in our rooms on social media can increase loneliness in people of all ages. Reminding each other to have daily in-person social interactions will help us all feel happier in our lives. Family time is a great way to increase happiness, interact and build social emotional learning skills.
You could set a goal to spend the entire Saturday together doing a family activity, or build in two hours every weeknight to spend time together. You decide when and how you make these goals happen!
Set Time Limits On Electronics
This is a great strategy for anyone looking to reclaim some of their time, and parents and kids can both benefit from it. Set a time limit on use of your computer, video games, television and cell phone. You can limit use of those devices to certain hours of the day, say before 7 p.m. on weeknights, or put an hourly cap on time spent with the device itself. If you’re done with work at a certain time every day, be done with work at that time and don’t look at your emails again until the next morning. Time after you’re off the clock is for the family or yourself.
No matter the season, there’s a plethora of activities you and your family can do outside, and many of them are free. Taking a walk or a hike is possible any time of the year.
During winter you may need to bundle up more and wear crampons on your boots to prevent yourself from slipping, but you can still get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer. Look up local hikes near you, or visit a city park and stretch your legs. The sunshine will give you a boost of vitamin D, and the fresh air will do you good. In spring and summer, your options expand as you can play more sports outside, swim or go for family bike rides.
Instead of spending your time alone making dinner every night, invite the kids into the kitchen to help you. Give them easy tasks to complete that will help you get dinner ready faster. If they’re not old enough to help, set them up at the kitchen counter with some crayons and coloring pages and talk to them while you’re preparing the meal. Cooking and eating is a daily task, but you don’t have to do it alone. Talking with your kids while you cook is a great way to decompress from the day, and connect with each other.
Play A Game
Board games, card games and sports are great ways to pass the time without devices. Start a weekly board game night and rotate who picks the game each week. Or get a round of horse going with the basketball hoop in your driveway. Playing games teaches kids to learn how to lose, how to win and how to have fun with the process of playing — all important skills to carry with them through life.
Read As A Family
If you have little kids around the house, plan to read a story together every night. If your kids are old enough to read, pick a longer book to read together and have them practice reading some, and then you read some. If your house is full of older children, let everyone pick their own book and do some silent reading in the same room. Reading at home helps with reading comprehension levels at school. Instilling a love of reading at a young age is important, and you can check out books for free from your local library!