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How to Improve Family Time – 5 Ways to Reconnect

We live in a world that glorifies the hustle and technology. While there is nothing conceptually wrong with that, it can take a toll on families. Today, I want to discuss how you can improve family time and reconnect on a deeper level using the methods that work well in my life.

5 Ways to Improve Family Time

#1: Family Meetings

As a family, we each have individual responsibilities as well as the tasks we perform together. For my family of four, that means two active parents with jobs and two children with chores, sports, activities, and homework. When my children were younger, we implemented a daily family meeting each morning.

During this time, the kids would eat their breakfast, and we would take just 15 minutes to set up their day, discuss any plans, and chat together. We found that this helped us sync up our responsibilities, prevent anything from getting forgotten, and minimize communication issues. It allowed us to connect with our children in a meaningful and manageable way each day without sacrificing other crucial time. And most importantly, I was able to help set them up for success in a calm way each morning before school.

Of course, family meetings don’t have to happen in the morning. For years, we had our meetings at 7 am each day, but now, with my children in two different schools that start at two different times, we have had to modify our family time to not pry my teenager out of bed earlier than needed. Just remember, it's okay to be flexible and adjust as you go throughout the seasons of life.  

#2: Disconnecting from Technology

Another of the best ways I’ve found to improve family time is by disconnecting from technology. When my kids were younger, and I was still picking them up from the school bus, I realized how important the moments when they stepped off the bus were to them and me.

Before this time, I would always be finishing one last thing as the bus rolled up. Either a text or an email, or I would be on the phone, hushing my little kids as they gleefully bounced off the bus, waving to the bus driver as my phone was tucked between my shoulder and my ear.

Then, I realized I was missing the best parts of life, and what kind of message was I sending my kids? It was a gut punch. They were always so excited to see me and tell me about their day, and for me to grab the backpack or art they had brought home.

So, I decided to commit to my Intentional Margins. I put my phone away 2 minutes before I expected the bus to roll up. I gathered my thoughts. I set a quick intention for how I wanted to show up for them. Then, when they got to the stop, I was waiting. My phone was tucked into my pocket. I was looking at them, their smiles, watching them bounce off the bus, and more than anything, I was present for them in those initial moments. The message it sent to my kids was that I am here, I value you, and I want to be here, at this moment, with you.

Today, we find alternative ways to disconnect, such as not having our cell phones during dinner, putting them away for game night, or not taking business calls when I am driving them here, there, and everywhere. It's my way of taking advantage of those fleeting moments!

#3: Being Available

The third way I have found to improve family time is to simply be available. For example, when my kids are home, I am not in the office. Even if I am working on something for work, I do it out in the family room.

I found that my office discouraged my family from being able to chat with me when they needed me. However, by hanging out in a communal space, my kids feel comfortable initiating a connection with me. Sometimes, this is a simple question; sometimes, it's to tell me something; sometimes, it's to ask for a ride to a friend's house, or sometimes, it's because they want to hang out with dear old mom.

Unlike being holed up in an office surrounded by screens, being physically present and available to my children, they feel comfortable connecting with me for whatever they need.

#4: Planning Ahead

As a parent, you know that parenting is a busy schedule. Your kids will have special events, sports games, school holidays, and random days off. I’ve found that one of the best ways to improve family time is to plan as much as I can in advance.

Each year, I take their school calendar and sports schedule and put them all into my Google calendar. I entirely block off whatever time I need to dedicate to them. They have a random Wednesday; my calendar is blocked off – no meetings, no other events. In some cases, my kids won’t need me that day, but at least I am around if they do – it is a choice I can make.

Of course, I recognize that not every parent has this luxury. You may not be able to take a Wednesday off from work just because your kids have the day off. In that case, I recommend planning as much for more significant events as you can. For us, this looks like taking time off in advance for school breaks, onboarding personal tasks early in the week when we have a full weekend, and making sure to at least acknowledge special days even if we can’t be there physically. Every little bit counts!

family time playing games

#5: Family Fun Time

As you may have heard it comically coined, “forced family fun time” is essentially just reserving uninterrupted time with your family to connect, communicate, and care. In our family, this happens at two levels.

On a bigger scale, this means family vacations where we all bunk in a double-queen room for extra togetherness or take a road trip for hours of interrupted us time!

On a smaller scale, this family time looks like Sunday afternoon board games or Monday movie nights! Even if it is just a couple of hours, we take the time to build memories, connect on a deeper level than just “How was your day?” and forge lifelong connections with each other.

I know that life can get busy, and as my eldest is firmly in high school, it can be challenging to find time, but that’s why lesson #4 has been helpful – we plan in advance and make it a priority!

How Do You Improve Family Time?

Every family is different, and what might work for my family may not work for yours. So tell me, how do you connect with your family? What works and what doesn’t?

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