The holiday season has begun. You probably have a million things to do! Shopping for presents, preparing recipes, hosting guests, and attending parties just to name a few.
But don’t forget the most important thing - focus on quality time with your family.
Family time is vital to child development. Children that spend time with family are more likely to do well in school and maintain better health, both physically and emotionally. Family time is a big part of staying healthy, just like a healthy diet.
Even something as simple as family mealtime can make a big impact for children. A recent study showed that only 50% of family dinners are eaten together. Another study showed that the average American only has three dinners a week with their family. Set aside your electronics, and enjoy a family meal together at the table.
All family time is quality time, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center. Some other easy everyday ideas include:
Ask your children what they want to do. Children want your undivided attention, and this shows that you care about them and their interests. This also takes the pressure off you to come up with ideas and activities.
Your family is a team - use it. If you’re overwhelmed by your giant holiday to-do list, put everyone to work. Someone can unravel the giant tangled mess of ribbon while someone else can put up the lights. Throw on some music and make it fun.
Make one-on-one time with each child. Spend time strengthening your bond with each child. Children have excellent observation skills, and might be able to give you fresh insight into gift ideas for other family members.
Families that spend quality time together are stronger, communicate better, share a sense of belonging, and are just happier overall. Here are a few fun activities to try with your family this holiday season:
Family game night. Try spending at least one night during the holidays with the TV off. Put on your favorite silly pajamas and play a favorite game. Maybe it’s a board game like chutes and ladders, or a more active game like relay races or charades.
Go for a walk. After eating ALL of that yummy holiday food, take a walk together. You can walk around your neighborhood, or explore a nearby park.
Movie night. Rent a movie or watch a TV holiday special, pop some popcorn, and snuggle up. Take into account everyones’ preferences and age-appropriate movies to decide what to watch. (Common Sense Media is a great resource for finding age-appropriate movies.)
Cook together. Do your holiday baking and food preparation together. Even the youngest children can wash vegetables, set the table, or ice and decorate cookies. Just make sure they stay away from sharp utensils and the hot stove.
Volunteer your time. Find ways to volunteer your time with a local community organization over the holidays. Maybe you and your family can help out at a food pantry, donate toys, wrap presents, or visit people at a nursing home. (Find a food bank near you at Feeding America.)
Because the holiday season presents more responsibilities and more happenings than usual, the brain’s prefrontal cortex goes into overdrive. No matter how stressed out you may get during the holidays, remember the whole point is to have fun and celebrate family. If you need some tips to fend off holiday stress, check out this article by The Mayo Clinic.
And, if you want to get a head start on your professional development for the new year during your downtime, we have the perfect solution for you!