With the endless demands made on today’s parents, it’s little wonder that the bonds of the family are weakening and failing under the pressure. If you are under the impression that family time is a few minutes of interaction between TV ad breaks or a rushed cup of coffee before tackling peak hour traffic to get the kids to school on time, you join the ranks of thousands of South Africans who are struggling to keep up with work demands, parenting demands, paying the bills and getting through the day.
Less and less time is being spent together as a family and the results are children facing several emotional issues, and they are trying to figure out where and how they fit into their parent’s lives and busy schedules. Spending quality time with kids is critical for their emotional growth and development and if parents want to strengthen the ties that bind them, they will need to make time for each other! When parents choose to make a commitment to spend quality time together as a family, children will value the commitment, the family ties are reinforced and lifelong memories are created.
Scheduling in family time
- Making time for each other doesn’t need to be a momentous occasion; it can be as simple as committing to eating a meal together. Rather than dinner around the TV – set the dinner table. We all need to eat, so plan to eat at least one meal together every day. You will be surprised how easy interaction is when the TV is not a distraction.
- Family night in! Make a date of it and family night can be a very fun and down-to-earth affair, such as ordering pizza, playing board games, watching movies, etc. Spending quality playtime together is the best antidote to shake off the stresses of the week and to just relax in each other’s company. The fun thing about family night is that the night can continue for years, even when kids are teens. It may prove to be a little trickier trying to coax teens away from their friends, or their social commitments but a date is a date!
- Change of scenery! One of the best ways to get away from it all and to just enjoy each other is to go away. Kids love camping and spending time outdoors. With cell phones turned off, no laptops, TVs, Wiis or other distractions, kids and parents can focus on each other. There is no better way to get to know your children on a personal level, than leaving the -real world’ behind for a weekend or a few days to relax and find out what makes your children tick. If a camping trip is not a possibility, a drive out for the day may be just as good. Remember to turn the cell phone to silent and do not make calls unless it’s an emergency!
- Start your own traditions. There is no need to wait for Christmas to start a tradition. Traditions can be as simple as pancakes on a Sunday night or a monthly family picnic. Hold your own dress up party or bring back the -family Sunday lunch’ tradition.
- Get to know your kid’s friends! Arrange get-togethers at your home and spend time with your kid’s friends! This may not work well if the kids are teens, but younger kids will love showing off -mom and dad’ to their friends. This is a great way to bond and to get to know who your child is spending their time with.
- Work together as a team. We’ve all heard the expression -many hands make light work’. Get kids involved the household chores. Kids under five can be assigned to do small tasks, such as clearing and setting the table, etc. If the work is spread out a little more evenly, parents are able to find the extra free time and put it to good use.
Why is family time so important?
Time is precious and waits for no man! Children grow up so quickly and the time that we have to spend with them is limited. When kids see that parents are making a commitment to each other and to them, they feel a lot more secure and far more confident, and they understand exactly how and where they fit into the family structure. Quality time spent together will help parents to share their values with their children, discover who they are and if they are facing any challenges. As the child grows into a teenager, the time that has been invested will be rewarded with an adolescent who feels comfortable enough to share their problems and discuss any important or worrying issues with their parents.
Family time is so much more than just spending a few hours together each week, family time is all about building solid foundations and creating everlasting memories. No matter if you spend time together camping in the great outdoors, playing a game of monopoly or just sitting together and watching the sunset – the time that is spent together as a family will strengthen the bonds and will become an investment that yields valuable and precious returns.
The breakdown of the family
A family that plays together stays together! Almost daily we hear of families who are separating and we wonder if our family is strong enough to withstand the challenges and the demands of modern life. Globally family life is eroding and this is evident in the increasing number of divorces and separations. It is not easy (and it is becoming more and more difficult) trying to juggle a career, a family, a home, a marriage, a relationship, and so on, however, making time for family needs to become a priority and a commitment for families who desperately want to safeguard themselves against becoming just another statistic.
– Joseph Addison