By the time everyone is home as a family, parents are exhausted and lacking the energy to give their best selves to both their spouses and their children. More and more research is announcing the importance of unstructured time to allow children to learn how to be bored. Boredom teaches us to use our imagination and develop our preferred interests. Ask yourself: when I have time to do whatever I’d like, activities and screens set aside, what do I actually enjoy doing? This is becoming a harder and harder question to answer. As parents, we need to model this for our children. Ask yourself: what do I enjoy? What are my hobbies and preferred interests? Share these with your children as an opportunity for not only shared joy experiences, but also self care. Having children is not a time to table your own interests. It is a time to expose your children to these experiences. Doing so makes your children feel included, chosen and prioritized.
Be open to doing modified versions of your preferred interests. For example, hiking won’t be the same with children. Get over it! If you want your children to develop healthy habits, they need to be exposed to these in the first place rather than waiting until they are older. While it might feel like a little more work as a parent, as the kids age up, it will prove to be more and more rewarding and serve as opportunities for family connect time.
So put the screens away, sit at the table as a family, and let everyone contribute ideas for activities to do together. Pick a time, once a month, once a week, whatever is sustainable for your family, and commit to regularly picking something from the list to do as a family. These habits contribute to forming healthy children, healthy parents, and healthy families. In a world in which people are becoming more and more comfortable communicating digitally and “spending time together” using technology, put the phones down as a family regularly to spend time together. Why? Because you will never look back and think, ‘I wish I had spent less time with my kids.’ You will be thankful you created a family culture in which you said no to other things and yes to each other on a regular basis.