The quantity does not speak of quality. This applies to how we spend time with our families as well.
Because of the pandemic, most of us are finding our social lives confined to our homes. The only people we regularly get to see in person are the members of our family.
On one side, we may feel that we are with our families all the time, and on the other, that we are not really planning or spending any quality time together.
The more we see each other, the more likely we are to take that time for granted and stop being intentional about the way we spend it.
At the same time, many of us living with families crave alone time, which is necessary – but can make us seem even more distanced from each other.
During this time of social isolation, it has become important (perhaps now more than ever) that we improve the quality of our relationships and that we work together on strengthening and deepening the connections we share.
In this article
- To encourage you to start spending more quality time with your family, we give you 5 benefits of doing so
- What’s next?
To encourage you to start spending more quality time with your family, we give you 5 benefits of doing so
You (really) get to know each other
It is always surprising how much we can find out about each other once we let go of the assumption that we know everything about a person.
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If you allow a family member to introduce you to their hobby (even if it’s the hobby that you dislike or otherwise wouldn’t try on your own) or have them pick their favorite movie and talk through scenes about why they like it so much (instead of telling them to keep quiet and watch the movie), you may learn things about them you did not know before.
Open and honest sharing along with the willingness to listen curiously and patiently can go a long way. Drop the judgment and lectures and approach a family member with an open mind.
You create an atmosphere of belonging
In these uncertain times, it is important for each of us to have a place in which we feel safe, accepted, and understood.
To feel that we belong, we need to know that there is a listening ear that will not judge us when we grieve and complain about all that we have missed this year but accept us for who we are and how we feel.
A lot of what we used to share in person has moved online, and for many of us, that transition has brought some loneliness in the activities we used for socializing and connecting.
Quality time with family can help ease the loss, as we share and support each other, talk and play, learn and grow together as we take part in each other’s interests.
You discover new areas of agreement and disagreement
With getting to know each other better, we are likely to encounter shared opinions and interests, but also – conflicts. Do not try to avoid them! Embrace them.
Conflicts are an opportunity to practice empathy and learn problem-solving.
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How you model behavior in conflicts for your children can teach them about expressing their opinions, with respect and understanding towards a person they oppose, are angry, or disagree with.
Conflicts can help teach about boundaries and can lead to creating new family rules. Through conflicts, we also build trust, as we learn we can rely on each other to stay present even when we are upset.
It is so powerful to know that anger does not exclude other emotions (love, care, and respect) but coexists with them.
You boost the self-confidence of each family member
The voices of the people we live with often become deeply tied to how we think about ourselves.
By spending quality time together, we can do our best to engrave the positive message that each family member is valued, loved, respected, and deserving of attention.
We do so by allowing each family member opportunities to share their thoughts and opinions, to listen to them, acknowledge them, praise them for their successes and help them learn from mistakes.
We can do so in the simplest of activities, such as playing board games or going on a hike together.
You promote resilience
Having a place to vent and complain, to express emotions, and to work through conflicts, knowing that you have the support and acceptance is a significant resilience factor that can help cope with many challenges of living during the pandemic.
On busy days, quality time at family meals can be immensely helpful in building positive habits and preventing mental health issues.
Children develop a sense of belonging and acceptance which helps them tackle their own challenges with less fear of rejection or failure.
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They learn from observing other family members’ coping skills in dealing with loneliness, sadness, frustration, and other experiences.
Also, doing things together can be lots of fun, and the positive energy and laughter that comes out of it is a powerful antidote for stress. We all need these reminders from time to time.
It is important to notice that what helps the relationships is not spending more time together, but spending that time in a better, more meaningful, fun, interesting, and creative way.
Set a goal to become more intentional with planning quality time with family. Discuss quality time with family and brainstorm ideas for what you can do together or in pairs.
Families have different ideas of what quality time assumes. Find out what it means for your family.
It is likely that you can transform most of the activities you already do into quality time with family if you are open to staying present, sharing with, and learning about each other.
As an additional source of inspiration, here are a few of our suggestions.
Ideas for quality time with family
- Play board games
- (Re)watch favorite movies
- Learn about a family member’s interest
- Find a hobby to do together
- Practice mindfulness together
- Work on a school project together
- Create a family tradition
- Make plans for the weekend together
- Pick books to read together
- Dinner nights with no technology
- Family fitness challenge
- Play hide and seek in the house or outdoors
- Learn a new skill together
- Do sports together
- Redecorate home together
- Go for a hike together
- Experiment in the kitchen together
- Build a rocket
- Do a 1000 piece puzzle together
- DIY projects
What is important in these activities is that the focus is not only on doing something but being present with a family member, acknowledging that they are an important part of the experience.
Be creative and curious about your conversations with each other. To help you start more meaningful or interesting conversations, we are offering questions you can use as conversation starters:
- What have you missed the most during the past month or year?
- What are some things you have learned during the pandemic?
- What do you like about your friends? Or, How have your friendships changed this year?
- What do you feel grateful for?
- How do you like to have fun?
- What cause would you like to be able to contribute to?
- What makes you happy? What brings you joy?
- What are some of the things we do not do enough in this family?
- What makes you not the easiest person to live with?
- Can you tell me more about your hobby or interest?
- What superpower would you like to have and why?
- What are some of the best memories we’ve had as a family?
- What would you like to learn or improve?
Have a great time together!