The idea of maintaining a work-life balance can seem, well, daunting. The word “balance” alone may make you scoff because it can feel like it doesn’t exist in your day-to-day life. For households where both parents work, carving out moments where the family spends time together can seem like yet another thing to add to your to-do list.
So how can parents hold space for family time when their schedules are busier than ever? Even though it may feel impossible, finding time to spend time with your family is possible. In fact, the benefits of doing so may help alleviate some of the stress parents feel trying to manage everything. Here are a few ways to incorporate family time into your schedule.
We’ve probably all heard the benefits of family mealtime, but not everyone has time for a home-cooked dinner at the end of the day. So be flexible and define “family mealtime” based on what’s possible for your family. Takeout works just as well for those evenings no one feels like cooking, or sharing apps as a family “happy hour” can be an alternative.
The goal is to slow down and check in with each other during whatever meal you are eating, whether that’s sharing plans for the day over breakfast, winding down over dinner, or enjoying an afternoon snack together.
Hold Family Show and Tell
Instead of having a talent show, this can lessen any potential competitive energy in the family. Parents and their children can find one thing from the day they would like to share with the family. This can be something that happened at work or school, a favorite toy or book, or simply a story that someone wants to tell.
Plan a Weekend Family Activity
This can look like going to the local library, bike riding, or spending a day at the zoo. Not only can this deepen family bonds, but it can also create the opportunity for new conversations. For example, your child may come across an interesting book they want to read at the library or a new favorite animal at the zoo.
Have a Movie Night at Home
Since going to the movie theater may not be high on your family’s list, you can hold movie night at home. You can have your children decide which movie to watch and draw movie ticket stubs for them. If you want to take things a step further, you can set up a makeshift concession stand filled with snacks and homemade popcorn for your family to eat while watching the movie.
Play Games Together
When I was younger, family game night was one of the weekly staples in my home. We played board games such as Monopoly or The Game of Life—still top favorites today. But if board games are not something your family is interested in, try card games like UNO or a multi-player video game. Or if you have littles, simple charades, Go Fish, or memory matching games are good options to start with. The 20 minutes spent playing a few rounds of UNO with your child is time well spent.
Celebrate Holidays and Birthdays
While most families try to prioritize these events in general, truly focusing on the family aspect of them can help create togetherness. Finding different traditions to start during holidays and birthdays can also create lasting memories for families. For example, you can make homemade cards for Valentine’s Day or homemade hot chocolate on Christmas Eve. While these activities are simple, they are collaborative ways to get little ones involved.
Plan One-on-One Dates With Each Parent
For two-parent households with more than one child, consider splitting up family time so each child gets some one-on-one attention. Let them drive the activity decisions, whether it’s a big to-do like a trip to the museum or something as simple as a trip to Target—they’ll just be relishing the attention all on them.
No matter how you choose to spend time with your family, the goal is to make time. As hectic as our schedules can get, being able to spend quality time with family is something to cherish. Even if our family dynamics differ from others, we can still find ways to strengthen our individual family bonds.