Most of us are caught up in a hectic whirlwind of activities which start on Monday morning, end on Sunday night and then begin all over again. Time slips by as we rush to complete urgent tasks which relate to juggling jobs, running the household, chauffeuring our children, our parents, relatives and spouses to work, school, appointments and commitments. Yet, we all acknowledge, that spending quality time together is the best way we have - to show each other that we care and that our families are important.
Some families solve this problem by organising big family holidays together. This allows them to get away from the day-to-day distractions and interact by building new experiences together. However, whilst, this is a great option, daily habits can make a much bigger difference to your family relationships than “once-in-a-lifetime” events. In addition, specifically tailoring your daily interactions with different members of your family can be a very effective way to relate to them on a 1-on-1 basis.
Check out the Families For Life Facebook Live Chat on 27 May 2016 with special guest, Minister for Social and Family Development, Tan Chuan-Jin, and a panel that includes Kelvin Ang of CheekieMonkies, FFL Council Chairman Ching Wei Hong and FFL Council Member Sarojini Padmanathan. The chat was moderated by Diana Ser and focuses on how families can spend time together in creative and fun ways whilst strengthening their family bonds.
Here are 12 ideas that can make spending time with your family simple, meaningful and a part of your daily life.
Make it a point to leave work or schedule work for later in the evening so that you can make it home in time to sit down to dinner together. Eating dinner as a family allows you to be a part of their daily conversations and to answer any questions they may have come across during the day when you were apart.
Is the kitchen sink broken? Do you need to paint the study room wall? Children love to help fix things. To us, it may seem like a mundane task, but to most kids, it’s a wonderful chance to see what’s under the kitchen sink, to understand how a faucet works and just to cover an entire wall in paint. Fixing things together allows you to plan for the project and also gives you lots of time to interact.
If you’ve already made time to have dinner with your kids, why not spend another 30 minutes going on a walk with them after dinner? In Singapore, this is the coolest and most pleasant time of the day. Once the table is cleared and the dishes are washed, go for a walk around your neighbourhood. Talk about the changes you see and what your children observe around them as you go on these walks. The act of walking whilst you talk may actually make it easier for children to bring up difficult topics or problems they face because they have something else (like walking) to focus on when they bring these subjects up.
Children love surprises, so if you don’t have the time to see them in the morning before you leave for work, leave a short video or note for them to find. They will be thrilled to get a message from you and you will have had a chance to show that you are sorry you couldn’t spend the morning with them, but that you value it so much that you made an effort to leave them a surprise note or message.
Reading to your children or even companionably reading books together for half an hour each night are a great way to spend time together. Choosing books to read and discussing them are ways to share ideas and values with your children.
Make it a point to bring your child to school or to any extra classes they may have. Doing this regularly allows you to spend more time together. Make travel time, together time!
Think of a new place to visit each month. Perhaps it’s a museum? A theme park or a water adventure park? Get your children to help you to plan the excursion.
Find time to share stories about your family’s history. Dig out your old photo albums and look through them with your children. Add new pictures to the family collection together and make this a regular activity.
As modern families have grown smaller, so too have the number of relatives we each have. Keeping in touch and being there for each other have become more important as family ties have become rarer and more precious.
Create a group chat with your extended family. Keeping in touch and knowing how everyone is doing becomes a lot easier when everyone is on the same conversational page. Now, when something important happens, you and your relatives need only reach out once to everyone. When you make it easier to know what is happening in each other’s lives, you make it easier to appreciate and understand each other.
Organise a regular meal together with your extended family. Perhaps this happens once a month or even once a quarter, but the important thing is to make sure that there are regular occasions when you see each other and spend time together.
Keep track of important events such as family birthdays, job changes, retirements, anniversaries, engagements, graduations, births, and yes, deaths too. Recognise these important events and make time to attend them, organise celebrations for them and be there to support each other. Whilst being a part of the daily lives of your relatives would be difficult, if not intrusive, making sure that you remember milestone events is often appreciated and remembered.
This article is adapted from Families For Life, and is republished with permission.
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