5 Tips to Incorporate More Family Time into Your Busy Routine
We all have busy lives. Work, school, soccer, swim lessons, play dates. The list can go on and on. But despite these busy schedules, we still want to spend some quality time with our family. Here are five tips on how to incorporate more Family Time into your busy routine from Meredith Sinclair, Juicy Juice Family Time expert.
PLAN for family playtime: Families are the busiest they’ve ever been. With work, school, extracurricular activities, and schedules bursting at the seams, it can feel nearly impossible to fit in frequent uninterrupted family time.
One of my secret weapons in the fight for more family fun each week is a “Family Playlist”. This printable is an easy way for everyone to share ideas, and it puts family activities front and center! I recommend you put it on the fridge or the family bulletin board and then each week pick an activity from one or multiple columns. It will encourage you to do more things together as a family, from a weeknight board game to a Saturday trip to the zoo.
Create a “Creativity Cupboard”: I am asked all the time for suggestions on how to limit screen time. A great way to encourage kids to get off the computer or iPad is to create a space for them to use their imagination in a fun and interactive way. I’m a firm believer that if you build it they will come.
Designate a cupboard, drawer, or big bin somewhere in your home and fill it with open-ended, engaging supplies. Playdoh, craft materials, upcycled items such as a juice or tissue boxes, paper towel rolls, even Popsicle sticks, coloring books, puzzles, etc.
Include some craft templates to help get the creative juices flowing. For example, you can use an empty juice box to create an adorable Juice Box Rocket, in four easy steps. Or transform your juice boxes into these colorful sailboats. For even more fun, fill up the tub or sink and see if they float!
Also, when you have time, keep adding little surprises in the Creativity Cupboard for when your kids are in the boredom zone. It will keep them going back to see what’s new!
Plan a park or playground crawl: No matter the age of your kiddos, no one can resist the lure of an open field or well-placed cluster of swings, slides, and see-saws. Take a few hours on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon and hit several parks or playground in a row! Bring some fun snacks and juice boxes along for the ride. After your day of park hopping, have a playful pow-wow and decide which park gets the awards for “most awesome swings”, “best slide in a supporting role”, and “overall best park”, etc..
Be flexible: Family time can also take the form of a conversation or game on a 10-minute ride to school or the grocery store. I’ve pushed for carpool time to be a “no phone zone”. It’s zero fun for parents to feel like their kids' silent chauffeur and I’ve found those quick trips to and from school, errands, and/or extracurricular activities are a breeding ground for light-hearted conversations that can connect the “ what-did-you-do-today” dots. My son often acts as our mobile DJ, picking his favorite tunes for the ride. Music is the perfect conduit for playful and positive 100% family time. Especially on the road.
Turn meal prep into family time: Get your kids involved with planning the meals for the week. Make the grocery list with your child, and ask him or her what they would like to eat. Let them pick the meal for one night, and have them help you prepare it. Give them a job! If you’re short on time, you can still get your child involved in the mealtime prep. Ask him or her to get certain ingredients out from the fridge and line them up on the countertop so they are easily accessible. Have your child set the table, or start a f
un game for him or her to sit in the kitchen with you.
Also when it comes to cooking, try to select some kid friendly recipes that make it easier to have little hands in the kitchen. Two of my favorite easy-prep recipes that my kids love are the Baked Fish Tacos with Tropical Salsa and Sweet and Sour Slow Cooker Meatballs.
Get out there and spend some quality time with your family! Have fun!
Juicy Juice Family Time expert, Meredith Sinclair M.Ed., is an author, television contributor and, play expert. She is the author of the book “Well Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family's Playful Spirit” (Harper Collins 2016) and is a regular family lifestyle contributor to the Today Show, Home and Family, and Fox and Friends. Meredith has been featured on the Steve Harvey Show, the Meredith Vieira Show, and is a parenting blogger for the Huffington Post. A former elementary school teacher with a master’s degree in Education, she is passionate about improving people’s lives by spreading the importance of play.