Gone are the days of casual conversation over the breakfast table before school. These days, parents are rushing their kids through cereal, only to yell at them, “Don’t forget to… or Did you…” before their kids are out the door. Sometimes we realize that all we’ve done is rush them around since they woke up, so we attach a quick, “I love you!” before they’re gone.
Once our kids are out the door, we do our own rushing around to clean up and get ready for our hectic days. When our children get home, it’s time for homework, dinner, dishes, bathtime, and bed. If you’re lucky, you have ten minutes to read your kids a few books before they go to sleep.
If you think about the typical day, from waking and preparing for the day to winding down and going to sleep, how many of the interactions you have with family members would you call “quality?”
According to the NY Post, the average family spends only 37 minutes a day together of quality time.
Why is quality time so important? Quality time with your children makes them feel valued, and children who feel valued have:
- Higher self esteem
- More compassion
- Better outside relationships
- Greater ability to handle stress
So how can you incorporate more quality time into your family’s days?
Eat dinner together. Many studies have been done about meal time and family time. Less than half of families in the U.S. eat together at least three meals a week. Yet family meal time is important for a variety of reasons. If you involve your kids in cooking, you’re teaching them about cooking, nutrition, and math all while having quality time together. Over the dinner table, your family has the opportunity to talk and learn about each other’s days. And if you make cleaning up a family exercise, you all get to practice responsibility and cooperation.
Talk with your kids while you’re driving them places. If you drive your kid to and from school, you have a captive audience. Turn off the music, tell your child how happy you are to see them, and ask them what the best thing about their day was. This is not a YES or NO question so it can lead to more conversation. Ask them a question about something they mentioned the previous day. Try to remember the other children they are naming. If you hear about Sally for a couple of weeks, then Sally disappears from the conversation, ask about her. You are showing you care about your child’s world, you listen, and their issues are important enough for you to remember.
Set aside a place at home for conversation and cuddling. We have the “cuddle couch” which comes in handy not just for conversation, but also for those moments when someone just wants a hug. If you have a place at home that’s designated for family together time, it will make it easier for your kids to let you know when they need some attention.
If you are interested in ways to bring kindness and quality time to your family activities, download the month long family calendar. Available July 1st.