Spend Time With Your Family During the Holidays and All Year

Posted: December 21, 2011

Many people take this week off from work and school to spend time with their families. The holidays are a good time to strengthen our connections and renew relationships. So turn off the cell phones, computers and televisions and take time to focus on your family.

     Research shows that families who spend time together are strong families. They communicate better and share a sense of belonging. Here are a few ideas you can try to spend time with your family.
     * Family game night. Spend at least one night during the holidays with the TV off and the family huddled together to play a favorite game. You may play cards, bingo or any other family favorite. Consider continuing this practice throughout the year and designate at least one night per week as family game night.
     * Go for a walk. After eating rich holiday foods, taking a walk provides not only time together but a great way to get some exercise.
     * Movie night. Rent a movie or watch a TV holiday special, pop some popcorn, and kick back for some family fun. Like game night, this may be something you’d like to continue throughout the year as a way to spend time together.
     * Play outdoors together. You can ride bikes, play ball, or go for a hike. It’ll give the entire family some fresh air, exercise and great fun.
     * Go shopping. Hang out together while shopping at the after Christmas sales.
      * Cook together. Parents and kids can do the holiday baking and food preparation together. Even the youngest children can wash vegetables, set the table, or ice cookies.
     * Spend some one-on-one time with each child if you have more than one. Spending time alone provides time to bond with the child and helps him gain a sense of belonging and feeling of importance. It also provides an opportunity for the two of you to get to know each other better.
     * Since grandparents and older family members usually visit during the holidays, take time to share family customs and tell stories about past generations. Families build strength when they share family customs and traditions give family members a sense of belonging, and they strengthen values and beliefs.
     One of the greatest gifts of the holiday season is the gift of time with family. Spend time together to strengthen relationships and to make wonderful family memories. Strong families spend time with each other - quality time in large quantities. So begin during the holidays and continue making time for each other throughout the year.

Karen Thomas is a family and consumer sciences educator for Penn State Cooperative Extension of Lackawanna County.