Take an honest look at your daily routine. Are you really making family time your top priority?  Work can probably wait. Time with your family will not! Don’t just SAY your family is your priority. Show it!

Regular family dinners are a wonderful use of your time. If you can make just one thing a priority in your family, it should be eating family dinners together at least several times a week. Research has shown over and over that that kids from homes that have family dinners at least 3 times a week have better grades, better language skills and better overall health. They have a lower risk of smoking, drinking and using drugs. You have to eat meals anyway, so it won’t cost your family anything extra to do together. Prepare and cooking the meal together is even better! Kids tend to open up more when you work together in the kitchen. And don’t allow electronics at dinner time!

Schedule family time on your calendar, just as you put important work projects and doctor appointments on your calendar. Your family must know they are your priority and that weekly family time is sacred!

Leave your bad days at work. Don’t bring them home. Did you have a fight with a friend? Forget about it for now, and try to deal with it tomorrow. If it isn’t something that must be dealt with immediately, don’t allow it to interrupt precious family time.

Schedule intentional activities. Being in different rooms doing different activities is not quality family time. Tight on budget? Here are 15 fun things that can be done for free or nearly free.

  • Play board games
  • Go hiking – Eno River State Park in Durham and Umstead in Raleigh are my favorites.
  • Pick a family movie to watch together.
  • Visit a state park or a national park – Eno River State Park in Durham and Umstead in Raleigh are my favorites.
  • Go to a local museum – Marbles Museum in Raleigh is a kid favorite
  • Go to a local farmer’s market – Durham Farmer’s Market is open all year round and always has fresh produce!
  • Go to an outdoor concert. In the summer, Durham Central Park hosts a family friendly concert series.
  • Go to a play
  • Take a picnic to a new place you’ve never visited (The kids can help you prepare the food)
  • Go camping in your own back yard.
  • Go biking.
  • Go to a NC beach
  • Take a scenic drive
  • Plan and cook a meal together
  • Read books together (This is great for smaller children).  All local NC libraries have a storytime that is free.  Here is a calendar of the kid events in Wake County.
  • Complete craft and art projects (Look for ideas on Pinterest)

Make sure time away from work really is time off. If you’re taking work home with you every night and returning work calls and emails after hours as a daily habit, then you may need to cut these things out of your evening routine, so you can give time and attention to your family.

Use weekly family meetings to connect. Sit down and discuss things at the same day and time each week (without cell phones and TV) Small children should be included in family meetings too so they’ll know that their opinion matters. They’re an important part of the family too, no matter what their age.

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