How to Create Quality Time With Your Family

Shot of a happy family having pizza

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The struggle to balance family time with outside commitments and activities is one of the most challenging aspects of parenting, especially as your kids get older. You want to spend time as a family so that you can establish secure relationships, but sometimes trying to carve out family time is harder than expected with all your work commitments and your kids' activities.

If your nightly refrain is how tired you and the kids are, perhaps your family is struggling with balancing work, school, and everyone's activities. Here are some quick tips for juggling your family's schedule while creating some quality time together as a family.

Establish Regular Family Time

Whether you set aside one afternoon or evening a week, establishing set family time can create memories that last a lifetime. Whether it's movie night, take-out night, game night, or even a weekly family bike ride, the key is that at least once a week you have time designated for togetherness.

Spend the time relaxing and talking with each other. You might be surprised by the things you learn about your kids on your special night or how you connect as a family. Here are some other things you can do during your designated family time:

  • Attend a community event: Whether you take in a concert in the park or attend a local festival, spending time together outside of the home can be a great way to enjoy some time together.
  • Make rainy days or snow days special: It's not often that events get rained out or school is cancelled due to snow, but when it does happen, take advantage of the unexpected time together. Plan rainy-day activities, build a snowman, spend the day in PJs eating snacks and binge-watching your favorite shows, bake cookies, make indoor s'mores, or work on a puzzle together. The key is that you spend time together as a family.
  • Prioritize mealtime: Whether it's breakfast or dinner, try to prioritize having meals together as a family. As schedules get busy and kids get older, this becomes more of a challenge, but research has consistently shown that having a meal together has a positive impact on kids. Even if you can only have dinner together once or twice a week, it's better than nothing at all.

Let Your Child Choose Their Activities

Too many well-meaning parents sign their kids up for activities they're genuinely not interested in or good at and then face conflicts and power struggles. Not only is this counterproductive, but signing kids up for activities just for the sake of it can eat into potential family time.

Of course, it's another issue altogether if your child continually begs to sign up for activities and then wants to quit. Make sure your child is truly interested in the activity before committing to it.

Also, keep in mind that even at a young age kids develop certain interests and dreams that they want to pursue. It's likely that they won't be the same dreams you have for them. Be careful to choose your battles and accommodate activity requests where practical.

Determine Your Child's Interest

If your kid says an activity "might" be fun, avoid committing to a full season or year. Not only could it present a problem for your child if they don't like it, but it will infringe on the other kids participating in the activity.

Many teams rely on a certain number of players or kids to form a group, and a last-minute pull-out could impact everyone else. If you're not sure, consider signing your child up for a mini-camp, a week-long session, or shorter time period instead. If your kid loves it, then you can always seek something more in the future.

Signs of Being Overextended

Watch for signs that your child is overscheduled. If your kid's grades start plummeting or you get a note that says they often fall asleep after mid-morning snack time, you may be asking too much of them. Keep in mind your child's age, personality, and organizational skills before committing to an activity. Some kids can successfully manage lots of commitments while others will get overwhelmed.

Consider Time Commitments

Saying yes to too many extras can eat into valuable family time. Whether you are involved in multiple volunteer projects or your child is participating in a competitive sport or playing an instrument, additional practices and time requirements may be necessary.

You have to decide if these time commitments are worth it. Time-pressed families might prefer to sign kids up for a recreation league instead of a select season, or they might consider saying no to volunteer requests that stretch them too thin.

The key is trying to ensure you still have some downtime as a family.

Of course, plenty of family bonding can occur when kids are playing on travel teams if you make the most of your trips and plan some time together as a family then too. Just make sure you are intentional about spending time together, even if it is just sharing a meal on the way home.

Share Household Chores

If everyone in the family participates in extracurricular activities or has outside commitments, then general household chores may be harder to complete. Have a family meeting and explain how everyone will pitch in to complete family chores. It's unfair that all household responsibilities should fall on one person. Plus, it makes it harder to prioritize family time. 

If you set expectations upfront, any grumbling will be minimized. Even small kids can help set the table, clear dishes, or take the trash cans to the curb. You also can look for ways to maximize your family's time when completing chores. Here are some ways to make the most of your efforts:

  • Break down chores into smaller tasks: Instead of trying to clean the entire house in one day, try designating a day for each 15-20 minute task and assign it to someone in the family. Perhaps you will dust on Mondays, mop on Tuesdays, vacuum on Wednesdays, clean the toilets on Thursdays, and so on.
  • Complete chores as a family: If the snow needs shoveling, the leaves need raking, or the garage needs to be cleaned out, try to take time to do these things as a family. Working together builds teamwork and the job can be completed much more quickly. Plus, there are bound to be a few laughs along the way. Even though it may not sound fun at first, how you approach it can make all the difference.
  • Create a system for completing large tasks: It is unrealistic to try to complete 10 loads of laundry on a Saturday, especially if you want to spend time together as a family or one of your kids has a game. You could try doing a load of laundry each day and folding it together as a family while watching a favorite television program after dinner.
  • Decide what you can let go: There are times when it's perfectly acceptable to let some chores go, especially if you opt to spend time as a family instead. This might mean skipping the dusting and playing a board game instead. The key is that you don't let a long list of chores bog you down. Look for ways to lighten the load and prioritize your family.

Encourage Mutual Support

When schedules allow, encourage your kids to come and cheer on their siblings every chance they get. Whether they play sports, participate in the arts, or are involved on a tech team, it's important that the entire family support one another. Of course, this support should not come at the expense of their own activities or commitments, but it should be a regular occurrence when their schedules allow.

There is something really meaningful to a child when their entire family is there to support them and cheer them on. Be sure you are creating opportunities for this type of encouragement and family support as often as you can.

Schedule Family Downtime

Whether you plan a family vacation, take one day a month to explore a nearby area, or organize a technology-free day for the whole family, it's important that everyone in the family have regular opportunities to decompress and reconnect. Just like adults, kids are not exempt from feeling the pressures of life.

They experience stress, frustration, confusion, anger, and exhaustion just like you do. For this reason, it's important to schedule relaxing activities or downtime where they can unwind and let go of the things that are bothering them.

Vacations also are a great way to unwind while spending quality time together.

Vacations can help break family members away from the normal routine while exposing them to new areas, foods, and activities. There also are a number of health benefits to taking a family vacation. A family vacation can reduce stress levels and help everyone relax; and if you are hiking, swimming, and doing other aerobic exercises, your family's hearts and lungs will benefit too.

Help With Schoolwork

When kids are little, there are lots of opportunities to practice their spelling words, math facts, and reading assignments. But even as kids get older, there are still things you can do to help. Instead of competing with schoolwork for family time, why not come alongside them and help them where needed?

Help them study for a test by quizzing them on the material. Or, if your child is working on a research paper, sit down with them and help them find reputable sources. Of course, you should not do their schoolwork for them, but helping them and talking with them about what they are thinking are great ways to bond.

Start a Hobby or Project Together

Whether you read a book as a family, build a birdhouse, collect something, or commit to visiting all the state capitols, working toward a common goal or having a family project can open the door to quality family time.

Even committing to volunteering once a month at the local food pantry is a great way to spend time together as a family.

Not only are you teaching your kids about the importance of giving back to the community, but you're also spending time together doing something meaningful and beneficial. After all, nothing instills kindness, improves moods, and increases gratitude more than helping those that are less fortunate.

Prioritize the Family

Prioritizing family over other obligations is an important element of finding quality time together as a family. This may mean establishing work boundaries and taking time away from technology. But, protecting your family time will help keep your priorities straight and will ensure a happier, better-adjusted family.

In order to develop deep, meaningful relationships with your kids, you need to invest time in them. Even just committing to being home for family dinner several nights a week or taking a 30-minute walk most evenings together can make a significant impact on family relationships in the long run.

The time commitment doesn't have to be huge, but it does need to be consistent.

Just prioritizing your family on holidays and vacations is not enough. Your relationships will only skim the surface. You need regular time together to develop deep bonds.

A Word From Verywell

The bonds you create with your kids before they leave the nest can last a lifetime. The key to developing those bonds, though, is to spend consistent quality time together. Whether that's playing a board game every night after dinner, having regular pizza nights, or volunteering to clean up the park, the key is that you are building relationships with one another through positive experiences.

As your kids get older, involve them in the decision-making and allow them to choose activities from time to time. If you invest in and protect your time together as a family, you will have built a foundation of meaningful moments and memories that will keep you connected to your kids as they enter their adult lives.

5 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Glauser W. Overscheduled and glued to screens - children are sleeping less than ever beforeCMAJ. 2018;190(48):E1428-E1429. doi:10.1503/cmaj.109-5676

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By Robin McClure
 Robin McClure is a public school administrator and author of 6 parenting books.