In the hubbub of modern life, it is easy to miss out on some of the most important and precious moments of our lives – the ones we spend with our family. Most of our time is devoted to working, even while we are not at our workplace. Gradually, we relegate our family down the order on our priority list; which not just becomes a cause of frustration for us but affects our families too. Family members may grow apart from each other and our conversations may just be reduced to small talk.
Most of us acknowledge how crucial it is to maximize family time but often very little is done to ensure that we are not deprived of it. We often moan about our hectic schedule and how it leaves us with little room to accommodate some quality family time. However, as with all things in life, If a sincere and genuine effort is made to accomplish something then no task is undoable. Even with our cramped schedules, we could manage to spend some quality time with our families and that too on a regular basis. Here are 15 ideas, an attempt that could answer the all-important how to spend more time with the family question.
- Getting the Priorities right.
While we try to do as much as we can in a day; there are some tasks or chores that can potentially be done later or better delegated to someone else. Prioritising those tasks that have to be done urgently and leaving other tasks for later or assigning them to somebody for starters is not such a bad idea.
Even at the office or workplace, the delegation of duties without overburdening the team will help a lot. One of the practices that we have seen people adapt is a “give and take method”.
Taking over some of the work of the team members on certain days by rotation leaving free evening time once or twice a week for each and every team member.
This will certainly help to maximise family time on particular days of the week.
- Shall we plan it like everything else?
Sometimes people assume that spending time with the family isn’t a formal obligation and hence family time hardly makes its place in the daily schedule. One of the ideas is to create a dedicated slot for family time in the daily/weekly/ monthly schedule and making sure to not to allocate this time for any other activity unless it is absolutely unavoidable.
Marking out important family dates for the month (kids’ basketball game at school, pet’s birthday, parents’ anniversary, a local village fair etc) on the calendar and structure the schedule for the day in advance would certainly take out the stress and last minute issues on the day.
- Work at home, Work from home, Work to live or live to work ?
In today’s world where everything is connected, this is one of the tougher ideas to execute but its effectiveness makes it worth the effort.
Unless it is absolutely important, the work must stay at the workplace and not find its way to the living room. With more and more people working from home, the thin line between home time and work time is diminishing. Like a child’s play, designating a particular corner as work corner also helps, only to go in that corner for a certain specific amount of time and that too for things that cannot be done past the weekend. Perhaps, early mornings and late evenings when every other family member is either not awake or settled for the evening.
After all the power of now and mindfulness is not just a title for a book, being present physically, mentally and emotionally at one place certainly has its merits.
- Delegation and Automation to the rescue.
Our time is the most precious thing, to us and to our families. If only there was a way to steal time from every task or chore so that the time could be spent more fruitfully? Guess what! There is. Most of the happy and successful people have been doing exactly that, stealing time from mundane and redundant things in life to better utilise the time on more important and meaningful things in life.
Spending a few bucks extra to get the laundry picked up, getting the food delivered at home instead of picking it up while dealing with the weekend traffic or doing the groceries and weekly household purchases online. All this will eventually will steal time and will start filling that virtual piggy bank that can then be utilised with the family.
- A common goal, Common approach.
It takes all 4 fingers and a thumb to make a fist. Nah, no need to clinch that fist. Just trying to make a point that it helps if the whole family knows about the common goal of practising the approach to maximise time together. No point being there after making all the best efforts to find out that there is no-one else at home or busy doing something else.
Once everybody knows about the common goal of being able to spend time together as much as possible during the week and over the weekend, it will be a lot easier to coordinate the time where all in the family would be potentially free and available to each other.
- Dinner Table fun or Breakfast Banter.
Family dinner makes for an ideal setting to indulge in discussions and some light banter with the family.
Talking about how the day went for each other, discussions about any potential holidays, trips, social activities etc is quite crucial to keep the harmony and closeness. Often the small day to day problems and issues do not make up in the list of things to talk about when the communication between the family members is quite limited. Having meals or snacks together allows to have that much needed opportunity to discuss things that may not be very comfortable in a direct dialogue manner.
With today’s working patterns, if not at dinner then perhaps there could be a union of all the members on the table at breakfast time.
After all, as they say “a family that eats together, stays together!”.
- Walk the talk, walk while you talk.
It wouldn’t be stretching it too far if there is an opportunity to go for a walk with the family post-dinner or even walk around in the backyard for another 20-30 minutes post dinner. Killing two birds with one stone might be an apt analogy here, getting the much needed subtle exercise during midlife after dinner along with the pleasure of enjoying the company of the near and dear ones.
Alternatively, A win-win situation if ever there was one!
- Doing the household chores together
Instead of taking the responsibility of all household chores, the delegation of some of those tasks to the family members would be a simpler way of instilling the sense of responsibility and the importance of routine.
Better still, performing them together! Will surely cultivate a spirit of teamwork within the family members. Kids, after all, will grow up one day and will need to become self-sufficient and reliant.
Eventually, a lot of time can be saved with this option, paving the way for more time for the other fun-filled family activities.
- Streamline and Steal time from the daily commute
No, we are not talking about exploring shorter routes to the workplace that probably has been done already. Considering the option of taking public transport for daily commutes might allow us to respond to emails, read up work-related articles, take training courses, listening to audiobooks or even work on the laptop; all things that otherwise would have to be done at home.
- Volunteer for social work as a family
If the opportunity permits, there could be a chance of fulfilling 2 objectives with a single endeavour.
That’s exactly what can be done by getting the family all together to volunteer for a social cause. It results in being able to spend more time with each other and at the same time teach the younger ones the value of helping others.
- Exercise or participate in sports activities together
Yet another ‘kill two birds with one stone’ option would be to participate in a sports activity together, going for a swimming session or to a multi-sports gym and activity centre. Benefits of exercise to stay fit and healthy are known to everybody, why not get the entire family to exercise or play sports together? It simply would be a healthy way to maximize family time.
- Family Fridays! Or Family Fun days.
Suppose if Mondays are for Meetings, Tuesday are for teamwork, Wednesdays are for Weekly reviews, Thursdays are for tackling issues then Can Fridays not be for Family Fun Days?
It is imperative to spend at least one evening with the family each every week if the circumstances permit. Such as plans for dinner outdoors, watching a movie, a visit to a local monument, or pretty much anything that guarantees a fun-filled night with the family.
Logistically speaking, it would be a good idea to inform everyone about the plan in advance so the schedules can be tweaked accordingly if required.
- Kid at heart, Kid Indeed!
Kids love playing games of all kinds and not only just games, even a reading session is just as fun for them. Join in the fun and bond with them in one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways possible. Video Games, board games, running around in the backyard and simple ball games, reading books together, watching documentaries about all the fun and mysterious things around the world etc are just few sure shot ways of making their childhood memories fantastic.
- Fresh views, Fresh Oxygen, Muddy boots and Outdoor fun.
It is always good to spend a day outdoors embracing nature or participating in some adrenaline-pumping activities once in a while.
it’s even better! when the whole family is participating.
A visit to a national park, hiking trip, renting a boat, fishing, camping in the forest or even indoor rock climbing; The options are limitless and so is the joy.
- Learning something new. Yes, even making stuff from cardboard.
Interaction with each other in various situations is very important for the overall personality and character building journey. It is even better when this interaction comes as a result of undertaking new and varied activities together as a family. It will not only boost the creative and problem-solving capabilities of the people involved but will also make the bonding stronger. Taking art classes, trying pottery, learning to dance a particular type of dance form, or exploring a city together. All of these have their long term benefits in terms of taking part in them as a family.
Although it is equally important to make sure that while it is a good idea to try everything that is new but still no one is forced to take up something they find terribly boring ultimately defeating the main goal or purpose.
All these tips and life hacks are well known but it is the execution and implementation with the appropriate zest that makes all the difference. Not all the tips are applicable to all and neither it is a recipe for achieving family happiness however it is a start and as they say “Starting is half done!, Please go ahead maximise family time, spending the family time constructively, meaningfully, and joyfully in whichever way possible.