Families who spend quality time together reap more benefits than just the pleasure of each others company. Research shows that family time helps strengthen bonds between family members, improves communication within the family, helps children form social bonds at school and reinforces mutual respect between parents and children.

That said, it’s not always easy to find time for the whole family to bond over dinner or a board game, especially in families with older children who are involved in sports and other school activities. Staying organized at home and keeping track of family members’ schedules will help you eke out at least a few hours a week for the family to spend quality time together. Here are some tips to get you started.

Bond Over Dinner
Not only do children who eat dinner with the family every night eat more vegetables and fiber and less junk food, but teens who spend time with the family at the dinner table show fewer signs of depression and feel more supported by their parent or parents than those who eat on the run. To make eating as a family easier, plan your weekly menu and shop for the week so that you have food ready to prepare. If you’re particularly organized, do as much of the prep work for the week on Sunday, such as chopping vegetables for the soup or making the hamburger patties in advance, saving you time in the kitchen that can then be spent at the table.

Turn Family Members’ Activities Into Time Spent Together
If your teenager is performing in a play, take the whole family to see it, and treat them to dinner or ice cream afterwards. A little league game can turn into a family picnic with a simple basket of cold chicken, fruit and cheese. Spending time with the family as you support individual members’ activities shows your children that you value and support their interests.

Set Aside a Weekend Night for Family Time
Block out a few weekend nights each month for family time. Tell the children ahead of time to avoid making plans for the evening, and spend time together playing games, watching a movie or simply conversing with one another. If you’re a musical family, pass out the instruments and play music together. If you’re more sports-minded, find an event to watch on TV or go to the local sports arena for a game. Try to choose activities that everyone will enjoy.

Spread the Chores
If your family time suffers because of unfinished tasks, mete out the responsibilities of the home to include all family members. Younger children can set and clear the table, keep their rooms picked up and dust surfaces in the house. Older kids can do the dishes, fold the laundry and vacuum. Keeping the house in order will help you feel more relaxed when it’s time to sit down with the family.

Find Free Events to Attend
If you’re not sure what to do with your family, turn to the calendar in your local paper. Free events such as noon concerts, plays in the park, free admission days at the zoo or museum and community picnics are common activities during the summer and provide stimulation without breaking the bank.

Extend Sunday Family Time
If your family attends church together, turn a couple of hours afterwards into family time. Go to lunch or have a picnic in the back yard, play a game of Trivial Pursuit or listen to music in the living room, allowing each family member to play a favorite song. If you don’t attend church, make Sunday mornings family time at home. Get the teenagers up at a reasonable time, serve donuts for breakfast and go for a walk or sit in the yard together while the younger kids play.

Don’t worry if your family isn’t much for organized activities. Even spending time together doing separate activities, such as Mom and Dad reading while the kids play in the same room, will reap the same benefits of togetherness. The goal is to be together as a family and enjoy each others company.


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Iliana Spector is a health writer for http://assistedlivingtoday.com/s/wyoming/assisted-living/a leading source of information on a range of topics related to finding the best nursing homes.