Family time: clocking up the benefits

Most of us know the value of spending time with the family, but sometimes it can feel impossible to find the time to connect with one another. We look at the benefits of family time, and how much we really need to make to be together. 

There’s no doubt about it, most of us are busy. Work, school, chores, friends, parties, sports, the list goes on! Sometimes it can feel like there’s barely time to scratch yourself, let alone find the time to get together as a family and connect. 
But you don’t need to spend hours and hours together, sometimes all you need is 10 minutes to make a positive impact on family connectedness. One study, which  explored the time mothers spent with their children suggests that the amount of time spent with younger kids (ages 3-11 years) may not have an impact on their behavioural, emotional or academic success in later life. Children don’t count the minutes they spend with you; they count the memories. And positive memories can be achieved in those small pockets of time you spend as a family. 

Better communication skills
Being around parents and carers can help build those all-important communication skills that can help children navigate the world. From reading a book, to singing a song, or talking about your day at the dinner table, all these snippets of family time can help to build your child’s language, verbal and non-verbal skills, and help support them in their overall development. 
Secure attachments and positive emotional development
Being able to form a ‘healthy attachment’ means that a child develops the ability to have positive and solid relationships with those around them, but that they can also feel comfortable being by themselves. Family time can help children build that healthy attachment style, and again it’s not about the amount of time, it’s about the quality. Having quality family time together can help children become secure in the relationships close to them, so that they can venture out into the world independently and help them to know they’ll cope. 
Benefits of family time - dad with child - Blue Room - Bupa

And then some

Time spent as a family can also help with building resilience; that ability to ‘bounce back’ in difficult times. Spending quality time together can help enable children to try new activities, or model their behaviour by learning from their parents about how to cope with setbacks. Talking about issues at home can help support children to adapt and adjust, helping them learn how to work through and  move past tough issues and learn from them. And it’s not just about the kids when it comes to resilience. Parents get a chance to hone their resilience skills too through the challenges of negotiating family time with kids!
Problem solving skills
Having time as a family can also help give both children and parents the chance to work through certain issues together. From playing games, to working out how to finish chores, or cooking meals together, every day family time moments can involve problem solving. Parents can model to children how to solve a dilemma, and children can in turn practice problem- solving strategies in the safety of the home. These skills can then translate into all other areas of a child’s life. 
Positive academic development
The time children spend with the family, seeking help and asking questions can have a positive flow-on effect in their schooling. One large study, The Learning Habit study, suggests that increased family time, through the form of family dinners and board games may help lead to better academic performance, as well as healthier social and emotional behaviours in children.
Family time doesn’t have to be bigger than Ben Hur, or timed to military precision. Just grabbing those small  moments as they pop up, and being in the moment can have wonderful benefits for everyone in the family. 

Make little moments matter

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