10 Simple Ways to Have Time as a Family Together

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family together

With our busy lives, filled with activities, school, work, spending time as a family together can sometimes feel a bit like yet another thing to fit in. But there are some very good reasons why spending time together is important. Child Psychotherapist, Dr. Colman Noctor gives his suggestions for 10 Simple Ways to Have Time as a Family Together.

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The support of our family is the most important factor in surviving adversity. This means that engaging meaningfully in close relationships will help to nurture your child’s self-esteem and self worth and ultimately greatly improve their chances of maintaining good mental health.

Therefore, an investment in togetherness is an investment which will pay many dividends in the long term.

Here are 10 simple ways to spend family time together:

#1. Be Active Together

family together

Active families describe closer togetherness. Getting involved in physical activities
together improves family togetherness. This can involve a whole manner of physical
activities such as informally playing sports together in the back garden or walking the
dog together, the importance here lies in the shared experience.

#2. Create Sacred Spaces with No Tech

only child family

In the contemporary world it is not unusual to observe families who all watch TV in separate rooms and/or spend meal times on devices communicating with other people.

It seems prudent to therefore suggest that families create ‘sacred spaces’ where technology is prevented from intruding upon or disrupting family life.

You might also enjoy reading 101 Fun Activities For Kids That Don’t Involve Screen Time

#3. Connect and Share

Togetherness concerns issues of intimacy and closeness. The ‘closeness’ of a relationship is a very sustaining aspect of a relationship, often more so than proximity. Therefore, parents need to focus on building closeness in relationships with their children by connecting in meaningful ways and sharing important experiences.

It’s not just about sharing secrets or struggles, it’s also about sharing dreams, hopes and desires too.

“We may not have it all together, but together we have it all”

We may not have it together quote

#4. Remember Togetherness Is Free

parenting father and daughter reading

All the examples of togetherness described in the study suggest the importance of the ‘time spent’ doing something, as opposed to the specific ‘something’ that they did. When speaking to the children, most often it was the simple activities, such as reading bedtime stories or baking together, that were recalled as the most memorable examples of when closeness was achieved, which would suggest that togetherness can be achieved on a budget.

#5. Do Things the Kids Enjoy

family board games

Doing the things that children enjoy is important. Many of the examples of where togetherness was achieved involved parents joining in with their children and doing something that interested them. Whether it’s playing Lego together or building forts with cushions, participation of this nature works because it displays an interest in the child’s life and togetherness and closeness is achieved through an interest in each other’s experiences and interests. These occasions allow for fun experiences to be
shared between children and their parents, thereby improving togetherness.

You might also enjoy reading 50 Things to Do for Your Children That Cost Nothing But Time

#6. Family Mealtimes and Movie Nights

kids halloween movies

The findings of this study revealed that family rituals play an important role in providing structure to family life and create opportunities for togetherness. The findings suggest that these family rituals are useful in bringing family members together to create opportunities for togetherness. In a busy world it may be necessary to schedule these opportunities and to allow space for family togetherness.

You might also enjoy reading 50 of the Best Family Movies of All Time

#7. Balancing Extra-Curricular Activities

soccer

The children and parents involved in this study referred to the busy nature of their extra-curricular schedules. It is important to moderate these activities and introduce a sense of balance between activity and downtime.

It is also advisable that parents engage with their children about their ‘experiences’ of these activities, concentrating on the child’s experience of the activity, and not just their performance. Instead of asking how did you play, or commenting that they played well or badly, ask them how did they find that? How did they feel about the game?

You may also enjoy reading Getting the Balance Right on After-School Activities

#8. Be Approachable

son and father

One of the most important aspects of parenting is the production of an open and honest relationship between the parent and child. If your child feels that they can approach you to discuss things that are bothering them, this is a really important indicator for better outcomes in terms of parent-child relationships.

However, this important aspect of relationships requires an investment in time over the long term. It is not something that can be created overnight, when a crisis occurs. The space and investment in family togetherness will nourish this relationship and improve the approachability of parents for their children.

#9. Value the Relationship

mother and daughter talking

The support of our family is one of the most important factors in surviving adversity. This means that engaging meaningfully in close relationships will help to nurture your child’s self-esteem and self-worth and ultimately greatly improve their chances of maintaining good mental health. Therefore, an investment in closeness is an investment which will pay many dividends in the long term.

#10. Relax and Have Fun

Young couple swinging daughter between them

When people are less stressed and having a good time, they are more open to creating togetherness. The children involved in the focus groups of this study all said that connectedness was greater when ‘everyone was happy’. This suggests that stressing about creating the ‘perfect’ situation may be counter-productive, as it may contraindicate being relaxed, which seems core to the development of togetherness.

The Family Togetherness Index

The first Family Togetherness Index for Ireland had a score of 65.3 out of a possible 100. That’s according to new research issued by Center Parcs Ireland in collaboration with Child Psychotherapist, Dr. Colman Noctor. Center Parcs Ireland, which will open the doors to its luxury forest resort in Longford in 2019, developed the Family Togetherness Index to chart and understand what brings Irish parents and their children together and makes them happy.

The nationally representative study, which was carried out among parents of children aged 16 and under, found that there is a direct correlation between the happiness a family unit feels and the level of family togetherness they experience. Satisfaction with quality of time spent with their children, satisfaction with physical activities they participate in as a family, frequency of moments of closeness and work/life balance were the key factors that contributed to the overall Index score.

17% of parents in Ireland felt ‘extremely happy’ over the past six months as a family unit while 50% felt ‘happy’.

Over to you now. What’s your best tip for spending time as a family together? Tell us in the comments below. 

family together

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