Finding the time to spend with our families is challenging in today’s fast-paced world. Children are busy with homework, extramural activities and friends while parents are hard pressed to juggle their work, social and home life.
Family holidays provide a great way for the family to spend much needed quality time together, but results taken from a new study by BYU researchers, suggest that the best bonding happens at home, performing ordinary, less-expensive family activities.
This might come as a relief if you’ve been putting off that all expensive family vacation, while you gather enough money.
Don’t worry yourself too much about that overseas trip, instead, focus on spending quality time with your children, doing ordinary things together at home, such as raking up the leaves.
Ramon Zabriskie, an expert in Recreational Management, studies how families interact in their downtime. In a new article published (The Relationship Between Father Involvement in Family Leisure and Family Functioning: The Importance of Daily Family Leisure) in the journal Leisure Sciences, Zabriskie describes how he has found that ordinary togetherness is the secret to a happy family.
Findings of the study
The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between dad’s involvement in family leisure and aspects of family functioning from both a father and young adolescent perspective. The researcher’s surveyed fathers of children aged 11 to 15 from 647 families around the United States. The families ranged from very low income to wealthy. Results taken from both the father and adolescent perspective showed that families feel closer and function better when dad makes time for ordinary core activities.
According to Zabriskie, the results would be very similar if the study looked at mothers.
“I’ve interviewed 3-year-olds, 5-year-olds, 15 and 24-year-olds and no matter what age, it’s these everyday, at-home activities as a family that matter the most,” Zabriskie said.
Working dad Thato Gabathole agrees. “My daughter always seems to enjoy the simple activities that we take part in on holiday as opposed to the exotic locations. She will remember how we built sand castles or how we ate pizza.”
Core and balance activities
Core activities are daily rituals performed by parents with their children that don’t cost much, such as kicking a ball in the backyard or having a bath time routine. Balance activities on the other hand, refer to out of the ordinary family outings that require more time and money like a trip to Disneyland or a beach holiday at the coast. Core family recreation and leisure was the single strongest predictor of family function Zabriskie said.
Dad’s Involvement in Daily Leisure Matters
“Rather than the occasional expensive family vacation alone, the satisfaction with regularly occurring home-based family activities such as eating dinner together, participating in hobbies and informal sports, carrying out yard activities together, watching television together, or playing board games with the father present was the single strongest predictor of all aspects of family functioning, particularly from the youth perspective,” said Zabriskie.
According to Zabriskie, when fathers haven’t formed those daily bonds with their children, the big events aren’t enjoyable and can become more of a duty or burden which can strain the relationship between father and adolescent. Contrary to what seems obvious, children place more value on ordinary togetherness than the expensive family trip to the Maldives.
“Too often when people think of family leisure, they think of the time they spend on vacations and neglect the leisure time spent at home,” Buswell said in a written statement accompanying the study. “Family vacations and other activities can only help build a family if there is a foundation to build on first,” Buswell added.
Family bonding ideas and activities
If you are unsure of how to bond with your children, given your very busy schedule, here are some simple ideas that can go further than booking an expensive family holiday.
Eating meals together
Most families no longer eat around the table, but this doesn’t excuse eating together. Even if eating together takes place in the TV room, it is very important to schedule meals together as a family – especially dinner. Use the time together, to catch up on one another’s day.
Help with homework
Helping your child with homework may not be possible everyday but since homework is an important part of your child’s school life, you must make sure that it’s always done. Take some time out to go over it with your child and encourage them when they struggle with a difficult aspect of it.
Attend sports or extramural activity events
Children should be encouraged to take part in extramural activities whether these are sporty or cultural. Always give positive feedback, no matter the result. Showing interest in your child’s likes should spark easy conversation and allows you to get to know your child better.
Choose a sport that you and your child both enjoy such as biking, swimming, tennis or soccer and take part in it together. Exercising with your child will also teach them the importance of a healthy lifestyle which they are more likely to keep up with if initiated from a young age.
Do chores together
Children should be involved in daily chores around the home from a young age. Doing so helps children learn about responsibility and being accountable. Doing the chores together makes the chores less mundane and adds more fun.
Play card or board games regularly
A family that plays together stays together. Need we say more?
Watch a TV programme that your child likes
Take the time to learn which TV programme your child likes and watch it with them. Learning what your child likes makes it easier to do other things together.
Choose a homeless shelter where you and your child can serve meals or give your time to people who need the help. Volunteering for such causes not only allows your child to feel good about themselves doing something positive for someone else, but it also instills good values such as caring and sharing.
Share a hobby
Perhaps your child enjoys painting or collecting stamps. Enroll the both of you in a cheap art class. This will give the both of you something enjoyable to look forward to.
Depending on your child’s age, you may even start a book club where you read books and discuss them at a later stage. It’s always interesting to hear what someone else thinks of the same book you read. This is also a great way for your child to learn to express their opinions and improve on their reading ability.
Get the children involved in planning the next family holiday
Instead of booking a fancy hotel and hoping the children enjoy it, involve them in choosing a destination and accommodation. You will be pleasantly surprised to find that children are less concerned with the fancy places. This will bode well for your pocket as it ultimately means a cheaper holiday.
I love you
Always tell your children that you love them. Also compliment them and make positive comments when they do something right.
Busy schedules are no longer an excuse for being unavailable. After all children don’t require a lot of your time, but instead, quality time.