boy with firewood

Ideas to make family time better

Tips for better family time

Are you interested in creating more enjoyable, rewarding family time? I just discovered a great resource for parents, with an emphasis on Dads: a website called All Pro Dad has 10 ideas for consciously creating better family time. As I read, I thought about things my parents did right. Neither one of them had ideal family situations growing up, but they made a happy home for me and my 3 siblings. I’ll get kinda personal and share 3 stories these tips reminded me of.

For those of you who did the quiz on my newsletter, the top 3 tips in order are: Eat together, Read often, and Do chores together.

For better family time:  1. Eat together

This was one of the traditions in my family growing up. My Dad, being Italian, insisted on this. I’m sure both my parents agreed it was important and they made it a priority. In my family now, we have continued this tradition, and it’s some of the best time (and sometimes the only time) we have together each day. Now that we have 2 teenagers, we don’t always manage to have everyone there every night, so it is challenging. A little advance planning goes a long way.

For example, 2 nights a week Emily has spring band practice. On Wednesday night, we eat dinner between the time she gets home and the time we have our 7 pm activity. It’s tight, but we make it work. Also, sometimes we have to eat earlier than normal to get everyone around the table. It’s worth the extra effort to get everyone around the table, talking and laughing together!

For better family time: 2. Read often.

I am a big believer in reading with children and frequent trips to the library, especially when they are young! Kids are naturally curious, and showing them a myriad of books will spark new interests and a love of learning. When my kids were little (and we had more time together) we’d make a weekly trip to the library. We all looked forward to it. And of course, sitting down to read together in the daytime and at bedtime is special time we enjoyed each night. I know one Dad who still reads to his teenagers every night.They’ve progressed way beyond picture books, but what a great tradition!

Story: When I was a teenager, my family would visit our the farm where my grandmother grew up in North Whitefield, Maine. It had no electricity, so at night my Mom (who came prepared) read to us for entertainment. I distinctly remember her reading a Tarzan novel to us one night by lamplight. The adventure, the drama. You’d think we were too old for that but we LOVED it! What a cherished memory.

It’s these kinds of moments that build better relationships with our children and teens. These activities that don’t cost any money, just time. Time is what we need to give, to whatever activity interests our kids the most.

For better family time: 3. Do chores together.

They might whine and complain for the first few minutes, but if you are willing to spend boy with firewoodthe time with children to train them, to show them how to clean or stack wood, they will come to enjoy it. When the kids are young, they want to be like Mommy and Daddy. They see us doing dishes or using the vacuum, and they want to try it. Let them! Show them how to do simple jobs when their interest is piqued.

And if your kids are already older, it is not too late. Sit them down and explain:

“Your father and I have done you a disservice. We have been doing everything for you up until now. But if we continue like this, you won’t know what to do when you get on your own in __ years. It’s time to learn how to ______  and _______ so you aren’t helpless when you get your first apartment/ go to college/ get married.

Plus, is it really OK for the Mom or even both parents to do the lion’s share of work in the home? Parents today have less time than ever. It’s important to get the kids involved in keeping the home clean, the family fed, and the yard maintained. It’s the way life works. I don’t know any employers who would react well to the statement:  “I’ve never done that, can you do it for me?”

Story: I mentioned stacking wood earlier. That brought back a memory for me. My Dad, a forester in Maine, loved to give service, especially to widows. One night, he informed us we would be going to split and stack firewood for a widow at church for our family night activity. At first, we whined and complained, (especially when we saw the mile-high stack of wood we had to stack!) but once we started working, we began to really enjoy it. My hyper younger brothers had something to keep them busy and focused. Best of all, we got our Dad’s undivided attention for several hours, which was rare during our childhood. That night we worked together remains one of my best childhood memories. In fact, it was our most memorable family night ever.

Lessons learned: serving and helping as a family is especially rewarding. Teaching kids how to work is important, and they learn while they are young that it’s just part of being a family.

Read the full article:

Tell me what YOU think! Is it ok for the Mom or even both parents to do the lion’s share of work in the home? What was the philosophy on pitching in while you were growing up in and how did it help/hurt your future family?

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Also, on my Pinterest page, I’ve posted some creative ideas for chore reminders and rewards.  Click here to get great ideas:

Until next time, bye!   Jenny


Another great resource is parent educator Vicki Hoefle.

Art:Picture of boy with firewood courtesy