Family Habits

When was the last time you sat down as a family to do something together?  How about when it wasn’t the holiday season?  Chances are, if you’re like many families, most of your time is spent disconnected from one another.  In fact, the time you have together will often be in front of the TV with a focal point being the show you’re watching instead of each other.  Little to no time is spent actually connecting as a family.  We may not realize the impact of this right away, or we may not see this as a problem, but the lack of time we’re spending with our families means we’re losing out on the chance of close, long-term relationships that most family members (especially parents) would report wanting.

For many families, this disconnect isn’t intentional, but more a product of an overscheduled and hectic life.  Kids have activities at different times, parents are often working late, there’s homework and housework that all needs to be done, and all this leads to families who are almost always running in different directions.  Is it any wonder that when we do get a chance to sit down, we often turn to individual things instead of looking to connect with others?  Sitting down and watching a TV show sounds more relaxing than thinking you now need to focus on others again, but it’s impossible to really connect when you aren’t actually present with one another.

I’m not suggesting that you need to forfeit this downtime, but I do want to suggest a few ways to add in some real connection time with the family in order to build up these crucial relationships.

Board Game Night

One of the best ways to connect in a positive manner is through play and lucky for us, there are tons of board games that you can all enjoy as a family.  Even if you have young children, there are games that will still be fun for everyone, or you can put your youngest family members on a team with older ones to help teach them the game at hand.  Added bonus is that many games have an educational component so you end up with your kids learning or practising skills without really thinking about it.

Story Night

Depending on the age of your children, having time where you pick a longer novel and read through it as a family can be a great way to connect.  Not only is it dedicated time together as a family, but stories allow kids to ask questions and spark discussion on a variety of topics that you might not normally think about talking about as a family.

Eat Meals Together

It’s such a simple way to spend time and talk to each other, but one that is becoming more rare.  I realize that in our hectic lives, doing this every day may be asking a bit much, but setting aside one or two meals a week can be enough to really give people the time to truly connect.  Although dinner is the most common shared meal, if dinner is too hard, doing a nice brunch on the weekend may be a good alternative.

Car Talk

We spend a lot of time in cars, driving from one place to another.  Although a lot of it isn’t spent with everyone in the car, there are times that we find ourselves all driving to the same spot.  Yet even when we are in that close physical proximity to each other, you will often find family members all engaged in their own activities, whether it’s checking their phone or listening to music or reading, and so on.  A different option would be to use this time to talk as a family or play a game (Mad Libs are a great car game if you have one person who can write), allowing for everyone to be present with one another at a time when you have to be close to each other.


When we spend time being present and enjoying our family, we connect with them.  This is essential if we want to build our relationships up instead of living parallel lives in which we one day hope to have the time to sit down and really connect with those we love.  It doesn’t take a ton of time and it should be fun, so what's stopping you from building a new family habit?

By Tracy Cassels

January 11, 2016