5 ways to increase family time

Finding time to spend with the family becomes increasingly harder as kids grow. School, sports, and friends start to create bumps in the routine. Although I know this to be true, recently trying to schedule a time to go pumpkin picking suddenly became a logistical nightmare. I tried to tip-toe through work commitments on top of games and birthday parties, and dances to not only find a time when we could all go, but all go when the pumpkin patch was open!

5 ways to find family time

1. Write it on the schedule: Like anything in life, if you really want to spend time together you need to make a commitment. Scheduling a set time to eat dinner together, even if it is only once or twice a week can make a big difference. If that is not going to happen during this season of your family's life, then schedule a weekly breakfast or other activity. For us, regular dinners were not possible when my daughter was going to school, working, and playing sports. Sunday breakfasts and walks in the park became a precious commodity.

2. Drop the technology: As tempting as it is to be continually connected to work and the world at large, disconnecting allows the family to focus on each other for a period of time. When we are walking in the park, my phone is put on silent and the rest are left at home.

3. Work around chores: An unfortunate part of a busy family is the mountains of laundry and other chores that can pile up while you are shuffling kids from here to there. Why not turn folding laundry or straightening up the house a part of family fun time. Crank the music and set a timer to keep kids moving. Make it a point to do your chores with a smile and a good attitude and the family will be Tom Sawyered in in no time!

4. Streamline your home: Another way to free up time to spend together is to streamline your home. Go through clothing and other belongings and make decisions. Giving away half our belongings completely transformed the way our home runs. Less things to take care of means more time to spend together. It also creates a more peaceful environment that makes it easier to relax at home.

5. Honor traditions: Traditions that surround holidays should be honored regardless of how busy the family becomes. Set some boundaries around the activities that mean the most to your particular family. It can be hard to choose when extended family makes demands for your time, so sit down and decide as a family.

Aside from holidays, family traditions can surround seasons, first day of school, birthdays, and lesser days. Ask your children what they love the most about your family and you may be surprised at the answers. When I asked my kids, they responded with something unexpected, but very true. Our annual pumpkin picking trip complete with a corn maze and hot apple cider was a non-negotiable. This is why I am trying so hard to schedule it!

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