The last few years have been a whirlwind, to say the least. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted just about everyone in some way. One of the biggest changes people had to face was the sudden shift to remote work and e-learning. Families across the country were spending more time together than ever.
In some cases, those situations are still in place. Many parents have continued to homeschool their kids, and remote work is at an all-time high.
However, even if you’re around your family all day, it doesn’t mean the time you’re spending with each other is intentional.
Being in the same area as other family members doesn’t necessarily help to strengthen your bond or make you closer as a family unit. That’s why intentional time is so crucial.
Let’s explore the importance of purposeful time with your family and how it can impact everything from childhood development to communication.
Why Intentional Time is Important
Setting aside time to spend with your family has many benefits that go beyond basic family bonding. While strengthening the relationships within your family unit is important, some of the additional benefits you can experience include:
- Improved academic performances by your children
- Fewer behavioral problems
- Less violence
- Greater self-confidence
- Better conflict resolution skills
When your children experience planned time with you, they’re more likely to carry on those behaviors and habits into adulthood. When they get into relationships and eventually become parents of their own, the secure attachments they developed in their own childhoods will continue, and they’re likely to have healthier, stronger relationships with their partners and children.
So, intentional time isn’t just about strengthening your bond now, it’s about improving your family’s overall happiness and setting them up for success in the future.
We live in a busy and distracting society. Sometimes, it might feel like spending time with your family is next to impossible. Technology, for example, can play a big role in keeping your unit apart. While it has its benefits, it’s also a powerful distraction.
Think of how often everyone in your family is home at the same time, but no one is interacting because one person is watching TV, one is on their computer, and everyone else is staring at their phones. Tech use can be especially problematic for teenagers, and threatening to take their phones away can cause a lot of discord.
One thing you can do to help overcome this challenge is to set digital boundaries at home. Disable the Wi-Fi in your home during certain times of day, use built-in controls on all digital devices to block them during certain hours, or install apps that set time limits on device use.
Another unfortunate challenge can be dealing with a family where everyone doesn’t “fit in.” You might even be the person who feels like the black sheep.
Everyone needs to have a safe space to go and people they can bond with. If you’re in a toxic environment with certain family members, don’t be afraid to lean on the support of friends as a “chosen family” to experience the bonding and security you deserve.
How to Cultivate More Intentional Time
Now that you understand the importance of intentional time with your family, how can you foster more of it when everyone is busy? The easiest way is to get creative. Think about some of the things your family members enjoy doing as a starting point. Set goals, communicate, and most importantly, schedule time together so everyone knows it’s coming up and no one has an excuse to miss out.
Still stuck on ideas? Try a few of the following to inspire you.
- Eat dinner together every night (no phones at the table)
- Cook meals together
- Go on family walks around the neighborhood
- Read together
- Get to know your kids/teens’ friends
You could also plan bigger bonding events that everyone can look forward to. For example, maybe you could plan a monthly outing for everyone in the family on a specific weekend or day. It could include a trip to a local museum, going to a movie together, or even taking a long weekend vacation somewhere. Not only are these things your family members can look forward to, but they’re great opportunities to get closer and set healthy connection habits.
The world looks different today than it did a few years ago. You still might be spending more time at home than you ever did before. However, don’t assume that your physical presence is enough to strengthen your family bond. It’s too easy to get distracted and let the comforts of home keep you from spending conscious time with the people you love.
Keep these ideas in mind to remind yourself of the importance of intentional time, and use your imagination to think of ways to fill that time effectively with your family unit. When you do, everyone will reap the rewards – especially your children.
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