From Parenting 24/7: University of Illinois Extension


Spending Family Time Together: It’s the Little Things That Count

Posted May 30, 2008.

Spending Family Time Together: It’s the Little Things That Count

Healthy active families enjoy being together. Family time doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. Often, the simplest activities contribute to important family bonding and long-term memories.

When children are asked, “What makes a happy family?” they respond “Doing things together!” It may seem so obvious that it gets overlooked, but doing things together as a family builds family strengths. People sometimes say that it’s not the quantity of time that is important but the quality of time. However, it is difficult to have a relationship with someone you do not spend much time with on a regular basis.

Here are ideas for busy parents on how to turn everyday activities into family time

  • Play games or dance as you cook, shop, clean, or take care of pets or farm animals.
  • Expand healthy ideas into everyday family life…
    • Sing or listen to music together.
    • Exercise together.
    • Cuddle together with a good book. Make it a part of your everyday routine, perhaps each night before bed.
  • Sit down next to your child to pay the bills, and go through the mail as he colors a picture.
  • Limit TV time. Some TV time together might be worthwhile in strengthening families, but there are better ways families could be spending time together.
  • Plan to use car travel time as a special “together time.”
    • Sing together.
    • Talk about your day and ask your child to talk about hers.
    • Tell stories about your childhood.
    • Have children tell you a story; identify colors, shapes, or objects along the road.
  • Plan a special night, perhaps each week, when the family eats the child’s favorite food.
  • Give your children a responsibility in the grocery store. Ask them to:
    • Match the coupons with the labels.
    • Point out or find where the items are.
    • Play games such as “I see something” and have the children guess what you see.
  • Along with a goodnight hug and kiss, tell your child how much you appreciate all the good things he did that day. Be specific.

Don’t feel guilty. Family time may not always end up “greeting card” happy. Quality time is simply the things we remember, that we hold on to at the end of the day.

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