Quality family time has beneficial effects on children: well-being, a sense of belonging, and a positive influence on cognitive development
Most of us are caught up in a whirlwind of activities that starts on Monday morning and ends on Sunday evening. Between work, responsibilities and our daily lives’ myriad of tasks and chores, it sometimes seems that we have less and less time to spend with our families.
Research shows that quality family time has beneficial effects for children and parents: increased well-being, a sense of belonging, and a positive influence on children’s cognitive, social and emotional development and later life choices. Most parents agree that quality family time is important, yet many feel that it is difficult to find the time to do this on a daily basis.
That’s what holidays are for… Really?
Some families choose to solve the problem by organizing a family holiday. This is a good option, because holidays allow people to get away from daily routines, to interact with their loved ones in an exciting environment, to experience things together, etc. However, quality time spent all year round, on a daily basis, with one’s family has much more impact than the exceptional event of the holidays.
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Too many extracurricular activities, a trap to avoid
We all want to be good parents and provide our children with meaningful experiences, and in this day and age, that includes extracurricular activities.
Such activities have almost become the epitome of good parenting. Basically, these activities are a good thing of course. After school and homework, more and more children are taking up football, swimming, horse riding, drawing, dancing, etc. But beware of excess! Some children spend up to five days a week on this type of activity! Apart from the considerable cost and exhausted parents, the consequences of too many extracurricular activities can be a deterioration in quality family time, according to a British survey.
Quality and quantity
First, consider the time we spend on things that don’t really matter: talking on the phone, checking social networks, watching TV. Then let’s decide to spend time on what really matters. Do we really need to remind ourselves that time flies and that time spent with our family is unique?
Secondly, let’s not confuse quality with quantity. We don’t need to spend a lot of time with our family, but strive to spend quality time with our loved ones. We don’t need to spend a lot of money for that either. Here are some examples:
- Preserve family dinner time: this may seem obvious to some, but it’s a fact that many families cut back on this essential time
- Plan an activity of the child/children’s choice: let them decide what they want to do as a family (a board game, a recipe, a walk, etc.)
- The weather’s dull? Have a picnic at home! Invite the grandparents and then play games, read or do something else
- Volunteer with your child: do shopping for a bedridden neighbor, participate in a rubbish collection day
- Choose a theme day, such as Friday’s film club or Sunday’s swimming pool day
- Go for an after-dinner walk together. Relax and chat
Adjusting schedules is a necessity
There is of course a link between working hours and family life: the length of time we work and the time we spend at work affect our opportunities to spend time with our loved ones. In some countries, such as Spain, this link is particularly significant.
The Spanish labor market is characterized by a high prevalence of the discontinuous day, which is based on a significant interruption of work during lunch break. The discontinuous day affects almost 45% of employees, which implies that fathers and mothers do not finish their work until after dark…
Nurturing one’s family, day after day
Spending time with your family is good, but you have to be able to do it! When you can, at least, it is an essential aspect of a child’s development. A family is nurtured day after day, through little attentions to one’s spouse and to one’s children, if one has any. If one day difficulties arise, you will be better equipped to deal with them.
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