How To Spend Extra Time With Family

Today's life challenges are entirely different than the ones your parents faced. Don't allow business and life to distract you from living your life in the present.

Eat meals together: At least four times a week, we eat dinner as a family. Sometimes it's takeout, and sometimes it is pancakes and scrambled eggs, but the important point is we are together.

As my kids have gotten older it has become harder to coordinate our schedules, but dinner is our time to really connect. Our conversations around the table provide opportunities for all of us to bond, plan, and learn from one another.

One way I try to make family dinners extra fun is with mealtime activities. Let me share two of my favorite ones that are both silly and educational. If you don't care for the below, take a look online; there are a ton of great ones out there!

Pass the What? This game encourages vocabulary-building. Serve the meal family-style, placing all of the food in serving dishes on the table. When anyone would like a helping of food, they must ask for it. But here's the twist: you cannot use the name of the food!

Instead, you must give a description of what you'd like. So, instead of asking, "May I have some mashed potatoes?" you would need to say something like, "May I have some of the white, fluffy food that tastes good with gravy?" This has been a great way to get our family talking and laughing together at dinnertime.

Question Bowl: Before your meal, take Post-it notes and write questions on them. Consider your kids' interests and recent activities. For example, "Which country would you like to visit and why?" or "If you were on a deserted island and could only eat one food, what would it be?" The idea is to pick subjects that will start a conversation at the table. For this activity, I let my older daughters help with the preparation and have them write a question or two to place in the bowl.

At mealtime, you take turns drawing questions from the bowl and reading them aloud. This is a lot of fun and promotes some great dinner-table discussions.

Pick them up from school and make it count: If you can manage it, pick your kids up from daycare or school once a month, or even more if you are able. Plan for it put it in your calendar, and consider it as important as any work meeting.

As a child, my parents almost never picked me up from school as they were always working. But the few times they did were very memorable for me. So whenever I can, I try to be the one who picks my kids up. And then I do my best to make it memorable. We always do something fun, like a trip to the bookstore for something new, or even better--an ice cream cone!

Your children need you to be present and you need you to be present for your family's sake. Many years from now, you will all be grateful for the lack of distractions and the focus on the people you care about most.

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