My husband got invited to the Melbourne Cup last year. He actually didn’t even tell me until the day before, knowing what my reaction would have been. I was gutted. Corporate invite. Good food. Good wine. A nice dress. Some pretty hat fasinator. Horses. And a simply good day out for the two of us. But he couldn’t have thought of anything worse. All he wanted for his day off (yes, he did go to work on the Monday before hand) was to spend quality time with his kids.
Family time for us is always up there as a priority. At least three times a week it is a priorty that we all sit down for dinner, including Daddy, who gets home at 6pm ready to eat with us.
“What was the best part of your day”;
“I want to go first”;
“My day was….”
The conversations are priceless. The moments are priceless. We connect, debrief and discuss our days as a family where the kids get to put all the days troubles, excitements, banters and emotions on the table. It is special.
But, truth be told, it doesn’t happen every night. Some weeks we are lucky to have at least one night together, not because of not wanting to, but mainly because of after school activities, tiredness and ratty beahviour that we actually don’t want to engage with.
When I used to work as a psychotherpist and see families regularly, I was shocked to hear the amount of families that never connected over dinner. Either one parents wasn’t present or one child didn’t want to engage either. It frightened me. And I saw the repercussions of children missing out on the time together as a family. They craved it. They urned for it. They wanted to be a family.
But quality time does not have to be over dinner. Sometimes it can be something so simple and unique that allows you the opportunity to be together:
– Take the dog for a walk : My daughter and I have established a little routine where we walk our dog before dropping her off at school. With the park being literally next door to school, it is an easy opportuntiy to spend a litle time together, chatting, hanging out, preparing for the day while also doing the one task that needs to get done; walking the dog. Lately we have been noticing an owl sitting in a tree with her little baby.
– Movie sessions : I am totally oven Frozen, Peter Pan and most of the Disney movies, even though there was a time I could watch them over and over again, but an old school classic is something special. One of my favourite movies as a kid was Lassie. Loved it. Just this weekend we watched it together. Loved it.
– After school or weekend baking session: My kids love baking. I try and do at least one baking session a week, usually on the weekends. They love it, I love it, and there is always a nice treat after.
– Saturday morning French toast: My husband has regular routine of cooking french toast for the kids every Saturday morning. It has just become their ‘thing’.
– Bike riding: There is a park not far from us that has an incredible bike/walking path around a large oval. The kids ride the track and dog chases the ball (or other dogs) in the middle of the oval. You will often see the parentals running somewhere inbetween to get either our daily exercise in or having races with the kids.
– Playing soccor in the back yard: We are blessed to have a large enough backyard to be able to kick the ball. You may see a few balls flying over the fence, but we are all involved and having fun.
– Catch a tram into the city: There is nothing more exciting for kids than catching a tram. If it is eitehr catching a tram to mum’s house for dinner, or going to daddy’s office.. it is always exciting. Or even just a simple trip into the city and back is another excilerating adventure.
– Fly a kite: There is just something about kites, kids and family times together.
– Pizza baking night : Dig in everyone. And somehow when the kids ‘make’ their own dinner they generally eat better. Just a little other handy tip… get them to DIY and they love it!
– Doing household chores: When we moved into our new house there was plenty of household chores. From gardening, to painting the fence, to sweeping, to organising, to building… there is always something. Get them handy young! Their future wife/husband will thank you later!
Do I fail? Many time. There is a certain amount of a time I have with my kids and I try my hardest to treasure them. Sometimes even the best thing I can do is just being there for them, present and in the moment. But the thing about family time, is just that, it is about family time. It doens’t have to be adventurous, expensive or even too creative. Just have fun and be together. That is what it is about.