If only spending time as a family was like we see in the adverts… Smiling parents and happy children playing games and enjoying their time together. No arguments, upsets, or problems to deal with. Never running out of time or feeling stressed because you have too much to do.
If spending time as a family time feels stressful for you, you need these simple ideas to reduce the pressure and enjoy the time you spend together.
1: Take the pressure off spending time as a family
Reducing the amount you do can help you appreciate time spent together. We often try to cram in too much, get the most out of day trips, and experience everything. Less is more when it comes to what you do during family time.
It adds pressure when we try to do too much. Doing less allows you to value the time without looking at your watch and rushing on to the next planned activity.
Ways you can remove the pressure:
- Look at your calendar to find the things you can reduce, or even remove completely, to give you more time just to be together
- On a day out, agree a few things you’ll do rather than trying to do everything
- Measure the success of family time in how enjoyable it was, not how much you achieved
2: Get away from social media
Having social feeds on our phones means we can never escape. That two minutes spent catching up on news easily becomes half an hour spent mindlessly scrolling.
Simple ideas to manage your screen time:
- Use an app to monitor how often you spend each day on social media – you’ll be shocked! There are digital wellbeing apps available on Android and Apple.
- Mute notifications, so you’re not always being encouraged to check them
- Put your phone away in a bag rather than carrying it in your pocket
- Plan times when you’ll look at social media, rather than checking it every few minutes
When we spend our lives checking social media, we’re teaching our children to do the same. Encourage older children who have phones of their own to put them away when you’re spending time as a family.
3: Allow family time choices
Sometimes we get fixed on how we want to do things. Allowing your child more choice lets them feel more involved and listened to. That makes spending time together more fun for everyone.
Sometimes they can’t choose the big things, but you can let them have smaller limited choices. For example, they can’t choose not to come to the zoo, but they could choose what order to see the animals in, where to sit for lunch, and what time to have an ice cream.
4: Talk to each other
How often does it feel like you’re interrogating your child to find out information rather than having a conversation with them?
- What did you do at school?
- Are you seeing your friends today?
- Did you put your clothes in the washing basket?
Communication isn’t just about talking. Conversations are a chance to find out about what your child likes, their interests, and opinions.
Have fun by asking silly questions that don’t have a correct answer, like “Would you rather only eat chocolate, or never eat it again?” or, “What superpower would you choose to have?”
Really listen to them when they talk and follow up on what they say so they can see you’re paying attention and value their ideas.
For more advice on how to improve communication with your family, check out our popular video series called The Ask.
5 Get less busy
Do you feel like you need another day off to recover from your busy weekend? Or is every evening spent racing from one after-school club to another? It’s easy to fill every available moment with clubs and organised activities, and have no time left to just be together.
We all get busy. So schedule in family time and make it a priority. It could be as simple as Friday night dinners, weekend board game time, or once a month booking a surprise family day out. Making spending time as a family a regular part of your schedule means you’re less likely to forget.