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We’re all busy. As parents, you may have work, meetings, chores, and everything else that involves taking care of your family. Teens and kids of all ages have school, homework, extracurriculars, chores, friendship ups and downs, and more. On top of all that, there’s still the unpredictability of daily life; whether it’s a pop quiz, a broken down car, or an ill loved one. However, spending time together as a family has proven countless benefits to the happiness of both kids and parents. So, how can we find time to spend with one another amidst our hectic daily life?
As a teenager, my favourite thing to remember when it comes to family time is quality over quantity. We may not have a lot of time to spend with our loved ones, but we can make the most of the time we do have. As Co-Founder of Small Bits of Happiness, I have done a large amount of research on the best and simplest ways to spend quality time and connect with your family. Here are my top tips.
- Once A Week Commitment: As a family, decide on one day and time, once per week, that you all can spend together – no matter what.
- Each week, a different family member gets to choose the family activity. This will allow you all to each learn more about what your other family members enjoy, as well as try new things!
- Some fun activities may include family board game night, cooking dinner together, going bowling, going on a bike ride, going hiking, going to a pumpkin patch or the zoo, or having a family movie night.
During this time, be present. Put your phones away, perhaps take digital watches off, and just enjoy this time spent together.
- Family Meals: Eating together is a simple way to connect. Sharing a meal has been proven to improve children’s self esteem, body image, and even their school grades and reading comprehension. Put all the devices away, and make a genuine effort to share a meal together, chat and catch up on everyone’s day. Also, I think it’s important to note that the meal you share together doesn’t have to be dinner. Meaningful connection can be established over any meal when everyone participates.
This could be breakfast, lunch, brunch or dinner. Most of all, family connection takes effort but it doesn’t have to be perfect in the ‘traditional’ meaning of the word. What I mean by this is that we don’t need to have a picture perfect dining room with a home cooked meal! Make a picnic in your living room with cheese and crackers, eat sandwiches or pancakes in your kitchen, or enjoy takeout together.
One of the most important aspects of creating family connection is talking with your family and being fully present for the duration of the meal. Ask your kids what brought them a small bit of happiness today, and what they’re looking forward to in the near future. Talk to them about what they enjoyed during the day and about a challenge they experienced. See if you can come up with some solutions together!
In today’s modern world, it is difficult to have family meals everyday, but every meal counts. According to a study published by The Family Project, at Massachusetts General Hospital, the suggestion is to aim for five family meals together throughout the week. It’s okay to work up to this number! At five meals per week, we get the greatest amount of benefits. But of course, the more meals we share, the more time we have to connect.
- Involve Your Kids: Sometimes, there aren’t enough hours in a day. As a teen, I get how this challenge can be true for both kids and adults. However, I think that involving your kids in daily activities, such as cooking, shopping, or walking the dog, provides an opportunity for conversation and connection. Daily activities create a habit of spending time together and create a bond between family members.
BONUS: Sometimes we may be stuck in a routine of talking and/or doing the same family activities over and over. At Small Bits of Happiness, my sister and I have designed a game, called Mission: Small Bits of Happiness. This game contains 100 unique, easy, and fun activities to do to feel happier daily, build happiness habits, and learn what makes you and your loved ones feel happy. Consider grabbing a box at smallbitsofhappiness.com, and working through these activities together with your family, learning more about each other and what brings each of you happiness. In our family, we love to do one card each night at dinner!
Through spending more time together, you’ll create core memories with your children, connect, and bond. Life is busy but remember it is the quality of time you spend together that makes a difference – not the quantity. Prioritize spending time together in simple and fun ways and create lasting memories!
Mercedes Korngut is a 15 year old based in Alberta. She and her sister, Anastasia (13) founded Small Bits of Happiness to help individuals of all ages (especially teenagers) find more happiness daily.
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