“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict, or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, a parent.” – Barbara Bush
The research found that family time is a significant part of the human developmental process and an important force in developing healthy relationships between husband and wife and between parents and children (1).
So, why is bonding with the family so important, how much time should you spend with your dear ones, and what are the various ways to spend time with family? This MomJunction post covers all this and more.
Why You Should Spend Time With Your Family
You need to spend time with your spouse and children to strengthen the relationships. In fact, research shows that the higher the frequency of shared time, the better is the marital stability and happiness (2). Moreover, your kids will learn to respect your sacrifices, show affection towards each other and grow up into healthy individuals.
Here we tell you how family bonding can help the couple, and the parents and children.
Importance Of Family Time For Couples
Partners are like the roots of the family tree. They need to support and nourish the tree so that it stays firm, grows and blossoms. This is possible only when they have a strong and loving relationship between them. Here is how it helps.
- Be there for each other: The true meaning of a family is to be able to call someone your own. For example, if you are facing a tough time at work, sharing it with your partner can be a big relief. This will create a sense of security and belongingness.
- Appreciate each other: The beauty of a family is that it has a mix of people with different personalities, and only when you spend time with them will you know how unique each one is. It will also help in developing tolerance towards each other’s shortcomings.
- Create a loving environment: When there is harmony between the couple, it will resonate in the family. When you and your partner love and care for each other, the kids will also develop such positive feelings.
- Strengthen the marital bond: Family time can also help in securing your marriage. When the partners spend time together, they will be able to know about each other’s emotional well being and create a comfortable environment for each other. All this will help you grow strong as a couple.
- Reduces stress: Work-life balance, family responsibilities, etc., can be stressful. However, spending time with your family acts as a stress-buster. Having a support system to discuss one’s stress and issues substantially reduces the pressure. Studies show that high-quality social support decreases posttraumatic stress disorders, and reduces medical morbidity and mortality (3).
Importance of Family Time For Children
- Keeps the family together: Kids need to feel safe and secure at home. Spending time with them will make them realize that you will always be there for them. For example, if your child is being bullied at school, they might open up to you if you sit with them every day, ask them about their day, talk to them and make them feel comfortable. But if you do not give them your time, they would never know that they can come to you in times of trouble.
- Lessens the generation gap: “You will never understand,” is what we often hear a teenager say. Children and their parents might drift apart because of the generation gap. Spending quality time will decrease this gap and also create a friendly space, where the children can talk without hesitation, and the parents listen without being judgemental.
- Teaches values of life: You, as a parent, might have learned valuable lessons through various events in life. Family time is the best time to discuss such incidents and teach your kids about virtues like honesty, integrity, and social responsibility. This would make them know what is right and wrong. The next time when they face an ethical dilemma, they would know what to do.
- Gives an opportunity to show affection and appreciation: Whether it is getting their math answer right or learning their first music lesson, children expect appreciation from parents for even the tiniest of achievements. And there is no better time than the family time to inquire about their day and tell them how proud you are.
- Builds self-esteem: When children feel valued at home, they are likely to be confident and outgoing. Such kids will be able to make friends easily, help others and develop a positive attitude towards life.
- Helps stay away from bad habits: Children are exposed to the good and the bad in society. What makes the difference is which way they choose to go. According to a study conducted by the US National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, teenagers whose parents know nothing of their lives are more likely to have used marijuana and alcohol than other children (4).
The benefits you reap by spending time with your family are too good to be ignored. But does that mean that you have to spend hours together with them, or just make a casual 10-minute breakfast meet and get done with it?
How Much Time Should You Spend With Your Family?
You may spend 45 minutes to one hour daily and four to five hours during the weekends. It depends on your convenience and the family’s schedules. You would not want to disturb their bedtime or learning time and similarly, you cannot afford to ignore your work to spend unending time with the family.
But make sure you are not spending the time just for the sake of it. When you say family time, it must strictly be between you and your family – no office work, TV or smartphones in between. So, should you just keep talking all the time or can you do something else together?
How To Spend Time With Your Family?
You do not always need to go to Disneyland or on holidays to have quality family time. While annual vacations are enjoyable, there are other effective ways to spend time with your family. Here we have listed the most basic and important ways to spend time with your family:
- Do school projects together: School DIY projects, such as doing a science project or participating in a baking class, are one of the best ways to spend time with your kids. These projects will not only help them develop skills but also teach them how to work as a team. It gives an excellent opportunity for you to encourage your children to find their passion and pursue it.
- Eat together: If both you and your partner are working and are on the run throughout the day, then dinners are the best place to spend time together. You can enjoy a delicious meal while sharing the day’s experiences and laughing together. If you have children, then eating together will make sure they are having nutritious food, and learning some good food habits (5).
- Celebrate special occasions together: Make it a point to spend special days such as anniversaries, birthdays, etc., together. This will not only double the happiness but also bring the family closer. You can also play some family games to have fun. Such occasions can also be an excuse to meet and greet the extended family, which will give your kids a chance to know them.
- Inculcate help and worship: Visit a place of worship together, teach the importance of prayer and introduce your kids to the positive energy of prayer. Alternatively, you can also visit a local animal shelter or a nursing home and spend time there. Activities like these will help your kids to think and feel for others. They will also learn to value and show gratitude for the privileges they are having.
- Be a part of your teenager’s world: Teenage can be a tricky age. Even though parents were once teenagers, friction is quite common. But it is important to maintain the rapport with them. You may participate in activities that interest them, such as a basketball game or building a robot. Talk to them for at least 10 minutes every day, to know what is happening in their lives.
- Take a break: Once in a while, take a break from the routine, and go on a vacation or a picnic with your family. Utilize this time to the fullest by spending time with them. Keep aside your phones and give your undivided attention to each other.
- Do chores together: Mundane works like cleaning the house can be fun when the whole family gets involved. You can fix a day in a week or a month and engage the kids as well as the partner to revamp the house, declutter the basement, cook together, etc. At the end of the day, you will be satisfied to see how productive the day was.
- Family day at work: This is a day where you can bring your family to work. A family day at work is increasingly becoming popular as it helps in blending family, fun and work. Your family will have a chance to get to know about your job and might help boost your morale at work.
- Go on dates: Amidst taking care of kids and spending time with extended family, do not ignore the relationship with your partner. Remember, the well being of your family depends on the harmony in your relationship. Once a while, leave kids with a babysitter and go on a date just the two of you. Take out time for each other, and keep the spark alive.
- Help your kids with schoolwork: Another productive way to spend time with your kids is to help them in their academics. You could be good at English and your partner at Math, so take turns tutoring them. This way, you will know about their studies and understand their strengths and weaknesses.
- Storytime: Who wouldn’t like to hear a good story? This is a fun way to bond with children, ditching smartphones and other electronic devices. Gather your kids around and either read them a story out of a storybook or tell them instances from your childhood. You can also take an old photo album, and get nostalgic together.
- Celebrate with grandparents: Circumstances might have made nuclear families popular, but never underestimate the influence of the older generation. Don’t you still reminisce the carefree days you spent at your grandma’s place? Such memories are precious. Hence make it a point to take your children to visit their grandparents; the values and virtues they teach are invaluable.
If you are not in a situation to spend so much time with your family due to other obligations, then do your best to be there with them as often as possible. If you are away from them, call them up every day, and talk even if you do not have anything important to say. These efforts are necessary because not spending time with your children might have some adverse effects on them.
What Would Happen If You Are Not Spending Time With Your Child?
Consider this: You can buy an expensive birthday gift for your child, but does it give them happiness if you are not there for their birthday? No. While it is essential to work hard and provide for your family, spending quality time with them is essential too. Here are some of the adverse effects of not spending time with children:
- Behavioral issues: Children, whose emotional and psychological needs are not met, might develop insecurities and anger issues.(6). All these will lead them to depend and trust strangers who might take advantage of their innocence.
- Dependency on technology: When parents do not spend enough time with children, the latter might end up spending time on gadgets and online entertainment to escape loneliness. Spending hours together on smartphones might hinder their physical and mental development. (7)
- Declining academic performance: All the emotional distress leads to poor academic performance, with no one to guide them through their education.(5)
- Withdrawal: A child deprived of attention and affection would eventually show signs of withdrawal. They may feel they are not loved and are not worthy of your time. They might turn aggressive and resort to bullying to vent out their frustration and anger.
Time is precious. It is something that you can never get back no matter what. Make the most of the time you can give to your family because it is futile to look back and regret later when nothing is left for you. Understand that nothing can be more important than your family because they are the people who will be with you always, in rain and shine and in good and bad times.
What is your take on spending time with family? Do let us know in the comments section below.
2. Sarah M. Flood and Katie R. Genadek; Time For Each Other: Work and Family Constraints Among Couples(2015);US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
3. Fatih Ozbay,et al. Social Support and Resilience To Stress;US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
4. The Importance Of Family Dinners; The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse(2012); Columbia University.
5. Daniel Miller, Jane Waldfogel and Wen-Jui Han; Family meals and Child Academic and Behavioral Outcomes(2012); US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.
6. Steward D. Friedman; How Our Careers Affect Our Children; Harvard Business Review
7.Technology Addiction concern, controversy, and finding balance; Commonsense.org