10 Ways To Create More Family Time

Family Fun

We all want more time to spend with our families. We would be so pleased if a fairy godmother waved her magic wand and added just a few more hours to each day, just to spend with our kids.

With even just one of these great ideas…voilà! Instant family time just for you. No magic required.

1. The TV Turn-Off

We all know we can live without it, but still, it’s on in most people’s homes much more than it needs to be. Television is a time suck and a brain-drain. Turn it off—during meals, after dinner, in bed. Instead, have a conversation, read, tell your kids a story, have them tell you a story. Do something other than lounge in front of the TV for an hour.

See 5 Ways to Engage Kids Who “Hate” Reading.

2. Do Some Pantry Planning

Fill your pantry with items that will help you to prepare simple, quick dinners at least a few nights a week. Why spend hours making the perfect pasta sauce when you can buy excellent (even organic, low-sodium) tomato sauce in a jar? Save some of that cooking time for reading, playing, or even bath time. Your kids will remember it more than the fact that you slaved over a hot stove for them.

See 15 Healthy Last-Minute After-School Snacks.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep

You’re probably wondering how this adds time to your schedule. Trust us: Sleep is better than a magic wand when it comes to adding downtime. When you’re well rested you’re in a better mood, you’re calm, and you get things done more efficiently. Same goes for the kids.

4. Ask for Input (Even if you think you don’t want it!)

Ask your family for input on meals, outings, books for storytime, clothing choices. The more kids can do for themselves the more time you will find yourself with each day. And kids are more likely to eat meals they have requested (even if an appetizer of popcorn makes an appearance now and then).

See How to Retire Forever from Making School Lunches.

5. Get Out of Town

It doesn’t have to be to Disney World. It can just be a weekend away at the in-laws’ or a road trip to a nearby town or city. It just gets all of you together and reminds you why you like each other so much. Make sure to pack road-trip games, books and snacks, and head out into the wild blue yonder.

See 5 Essential Items for Worry-Free Travel and 21 Travel Toys and Games for Kids

6. Go Out and Get Active

There are lots of classes you can take with babies (stroller fit, salsa babies) that combine your own need for exercise with bonding time with baby. Also, you can do yoga with any child at any age. You’d be surprised how much attention a child of four or five will pay to yoga postures.

See 9 Tips for Motivating Inactive Kids to Exercise

7. Plan Your Parenting

Add a calendar to your kitchen, or highest traffic area (front hall works great if you have the space). There are many different ways to make calendars; sticky notes, chalkboards, large paper or even a regular-sized store bought calendar works wonders. Sit down with your kids at the beginning of every month and write in appointments, school events, work events, birthday parties.

See 7 Smart Shared Family Calendars and Scheduling Tools.

8. When In Doubt, Hire It Out

It may seem decadent, but hiring someone to do the cleaning or yard work even once in a while might just be what you need. Hire a landscaper (or a local teen!) to clean up the yard before the snow or just someone to shovel the walk. All of a sudden you’ve bought yourself a day or even an hour to spend with your kids. Rent a movie, pop some popcorn, get out the craft supplies or just go for a walk.

9. Build In a 15-Minute Quiet Time

Time is short: dinner needs to get started, coats need to be put away and the phone is ringing. You’re just in the door and it’s a madhouse. If you can, try to schedule a 15 minute block of time when you first get home to play with or talk with your kids. It will help all of you to unwind, and if you give them immediate attention, hopefully they won’t spend the rest of the evening jumping up and down on the sofa, looking for attention.

If you have to use a timer at first to keep on schedule, that’s a good way to help you on track.

10. And Most Important…STOP

When you stop trying to be perfect, you will instantly create more time. Each person’s priorities are different. Do the things that help you feel happy or less stressed.

If you feel calmer with no papers on the dining room table, involve the kids in helping you clear it off. If you can live with a few stray papers, and would prefer to cook with the kids and try a new recipe, do that instead. Spend time on what’s important to you.


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