American families get just 37 minutes of quality time together per day, according to new research. A study of 2,000 parents with school-aged children across the country found the extent to which hectic routines take a toll during the work week with the families polled managing less than 45 minutes all together on a typical weekday.
There is little doubt that technology is affecting family relationships on a day-to-day level. Children are instant messaging constantly, checking their social media, listening to music, surfing their favorite web sites, and watching television or movies.
Parents can be equally guilty of contributing to the distance that appears to be increasing in families. They are often wrapped up in their own technology, for example, talking on their mobile phones, checking email, or watching TV, when they could be talking to, playing with, or generally connecting with their children.
If you are trying to connect or reconnect with your children, you may consider bringing back some old-fashioned fun. Your children might groan and complain about this effort in the beginning, but it is worth being persistent until they come to accept it. They may even enjoy it.
A total day of technology abstinence most likely will not work at first so try setting aside two hours on a weekend. Discuss with your children the importance of spending quality time with each other and talk about some options that don’t involve technology. Create simple rules for the non-tech time such as turning off all cell phones. If that is not an option, at least silence them so everyone can focus on each other.
Families on the go during the week taking kids from here to there can grab some quality time in the car by having conversations. Asking your child to talk about something new they learned that day may garner more conversation between you both, or pick a topic to talk about.
You don’t need game boards or special decks of cards to have fun with the kids. All you need is one deck of cards to play old-fashioned games like Snap, Go Boom, Authors and Go Fish. Almost all card play involves math, but you’ll also be teaching logic and improving memory and concentration.
Jigsaw puzzles are another way to spend time together because it allows for conversation while searching for that perfect puzzle piece.
There’s real value in games you can play anywhere — at the doctor’s office, while you’re stuck in traffic, or waiting in line at the grocery store. Here are examples of games that are relatively quiet, quick, and require no materials.
The Celebrity Game
One child thinks of a famous character from a book or movie. The other players must ask questions about the character, such as “Where does this character live?” or “What does this character enjoy doing?” until the players can guess the celebrity’s identity.
Animal, Vegetable, Mineral
The game starts with somebody thinking of an animal, a vegetable, or a mineral. The other players then must ask questions that allow for only a yes or no answer. If nobody has guessed correctly after 20 questions, play one last round of guesses. Afterward, the next person restarts the game with a new animal, vegetable, or mineral.
The Alphabet Game
First, someone decides on a theme, such as “food.” Then, members of the group take turns reciting foods in alphabetical order — avocado, bologna, chocolate, etc.
Whatever method you use for ditching technology, just focus on the face time you get with your kids. Those memories will last a lifetime.
Mary Migliaro is an educator, parenting mentor and consultant who lives in Cherokee County.