September 30, 2011
by Christie Hunter
The family of today is typically a very busy unit. Most households require both parents to work in order to make ends meet and the children are becoming more and more active in extra activities to keep themselves busy and boost their attractiveness to colleges. With so much going on with each individual family member it can be difficult to find time for quality family experiences. This is why I want to talk about how to make the most of the time you do have as a family. Being part of a family is like being a part of a special and exclusive club that only you and your loved one are allowed entrance into. Making time for your club is highly important in holding it together and making it stronger.
No matter how busy life becomes, it is important to set aside at least one night per week that is dedicated entirely to family time. This can become a night that everyone in your unit looks forward too! I know families who implement a once a week family night and it is for movie watching. Each week the family members take turns choosing the movie. They watch it together and then have a discussion about it afterwards. Other families play games and in the same fashion, take turns choosing the game each week. Other ideas for family night include going out to dinner, bowling, skating and walking together. To mix things up and make it more fun, you can even allow each family member to choose an activity. For example, one week Mom gets to choose the activity, the next week Dad chooses, the next week sister chooses and so on. This way, a variety of activities can be experienced and things don’t get boring. Plus, allowing each family member to have a say in what family night consists of makes it feel more personal. This system also allows each family member to feel as If their contributions are just as important as everyone else’s.
While it may not be possible for everyone to sit down to dinner together each night you can try to make at least one meal per day a family meal. In the evenings work schedules or other commitments may keep one or more family members out past dinner time. So, maybe instead of a family dinner rule you can make it a family breakfast rule! Make it a point for all family members to be up and out of bed at the same time each morning (at least on weekdays) so they can all enjoy breakfast together before starting their day. This can be a good time to discuss your plans for the day and fill each other in on the events of the day before. The most important thing is for families to keep in touch with each other’s lives and be involved as much as possible. Having a meal together each day can help ensure that this happens for your family.
One Hour a Night
If you find it hard to pin down a meal time that everyone can share or a specific night that can be dubbed just for family, maybe you can set aside just one hour per night to share some quality time. This hour does not have to be set in stone but can be flexible. Maybe you can do it an hour before bedtime arrives. During this hour you can all have a chance to talk about anything that is on your mind, whether it is a fun story from work or a problem at school. Family time is not just about having fun but also for reaching out for help, ideas or suggestions for any of life’s problems. Family is there for the good times and the bad. By reaching out or help or advice you are strengthening the bond you each have with each other.
Join a Team Together
A great way to bring families together is joining a team or club! Many towns have a bowling alley that has family leagues. If you all enjoy bowling then this is the perfect opportunity to get in some good family time. If you all are book lovers then you may want to join a family oriented book club. If there are none in your area then make your family night a night at the library. You can either choose a book that all of you can read or go on a night that a storyteller is there. A good story can make for a lively family discussion. Though it is a bit old hat, square dancing does still exist in many areas. This can be a great way for your family to come together. For square dancing you can also become part of a circuit that competes. How much fun would it be to compete on a team with your biggest fans doing something fun and active? These are just a few ideas off the top of my head. There are so many other things you and your family can join together so put your heads together and come up with the perfect activity for your family.
Go on a Staycation
In today’s rough economy it may be hard for a family to go on a traditional vacation. While going to Disney or New York City may be on your mind, your wallet may have other ideas. However, do not let lack of funds stop you from having at least one family vacation per year. Family vacations are great bonding experiences and serve to make a lifetime of wonderful memories. However, you do not need to break the bank to have a great vacation. Instead, make it a staycation. This is becoming a popular alternative to traditional vacations since money is so tight these days. For a staycation all you have to do is stay at home! The lodging is free and the attractions are as close as your own backyard. The main rule of staycations is that you ACT as if you are on a real vacation. This means no work, no computers and no errands. You may be at home but this is your vacation so make sure to treat it as such. If you have a pool then lounge by it as much as possible. Put up a net and play some bad mitten or volleyball. If your budget allows then go out to eat. If you can only afford to do that once or twice then fire up the backyard grill and chow down at the picnic table. For families who enjoy camping, pitch a tent in the yard and start a small campfire. Roast hot dogs and make smores under your own neighborhood stars. You do not have to be rich to have a fun family vacation/staycation.
Nothing is More Important Than Family
Family may be the single most important word in the dictionary. This one word holds so much meaning and feeling and cannot be taken for granted. We are all busy in our modern society. However, making time for our families is the most important thing we can do in our lives. After all, what are we really working for? We are working for the comfort and support of our families. Why not take the time to enjoy the fruits of our labor?
Christie Hunter is registered clinical counselor in British Columbia and co-founder of Theravive. She is a certified management accountant. She has a masters of arts in counseling psychology from Liberty University with specialty in marriage and family and a post-graduate specialty in trauma resolution. In 2007 she started Theravive with her husband in order to help make mental health care easily attainable and nonthreatening. She has a passion for gifted children and their education. You can reach Christie at 360-350-8627 or write her at christie - at - theravive.com.