Take time to reflect on the importance of friends, family, and loved ones and take time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the “little moments” with the ones you love. Making family time a priority is important:

  • Building an environment where children are free to discuss any topic of concern needs to begin while the child is very young. Allow children to talk about what they like to do and their feelings. This will help build trust and acceptance.
  • Quality time doesn’t mean devoting all free time exclusively to a child to compensate for the time lost. Children shouldn’t expect to always be the center of attention, but one-on-one time is important. Getting a child alone, away from the natural competition that comes from siblings is a great opportunity to get to know your child.

Some of the following are creative ways to make family time quality time:

Family mealtimes keep the doors of communication open.

  • According to a public health survey, 74 percent of teenagers said that they enjoy eating meals with their families. Research shows that most families eat dinner four to five evenings a week with about 10 percent of families eating together two or fewer days a week.
  • Teens who have more family meals tend to eat more fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and calcium-rich foods. Also, they have a higher intake of iron, folate, fiber, and vitamins A, C, E, and B6. At the same time, they tend to drink fewer soft drinks.
  • Compared to teens that are frequently present at family dinners, those who are rarely are three-and-a half times more likely to have abused prescription drugs or an illegal drug other than marijuana. Research shows that more frequent family meals also protect against tobacco, alcohol, low grade point average, depression and suicide, particularly among adolescent girls.
  • Girls who have five or more meals a week with their families are one-third less likely to develop unhealthy eating habits, which can range from skipping meals to anorexia or abusing diet pills.

Set up a regular family game night.

  • Put aside at least one hour when children are younger and two hours when they are older with no outside distractions. Playing board games can teach children social skills and interpersonal communication. Also, games can provide academic benefits.

Make family time physically active.

The goal for children is to be moderately physically active for 60 minutes per day. Make getting more physical activity a family project. Encourage everyone to think of fun things to do to get up and moving. Keep up the good work by posting a physical activity log on the refrigerator.

Involve the whole family in choosing a vacation destination.

Cost and busy schedules are reasons many families are unable to take a vacation, but the greatest benefit is the time spent together. Relaxation and rest are important to both adults and children. On a family vacation you can reconnect and rejuvenate.

Keep in mind when spending time together to set limits and not to let family rules slide. Generally, children feel more secure and happier when rules and routines are maintained.

Sources: Harvard University, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, National Institutes of Health, LifeWork Strategies EAP, The Reginald S. Lourie Center, and Washington and Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Centers. For additional information, consult your physician.