You already know that spending time with your family strengthens your bond, but you might be surprised to learn that it has other scientifically proven benefits! Below, we’ll discuss all the reasons why you should make family time a priority this summer, then I’ll give you some ideas that can fit into any schedule.
Proven Benefits of Spending Time Together as a Family
1. The family that travels together stays together
An interesting study found that families who travel together aren’t just more bonded than their counterparts, but also that couples were less likely to divorce when they took vacations with their kids.
2. Just eating dinner together can keep your teen on the right track
Those that can’t get away for a long vacation, take heart. This study found that, in families that ate dinner together regularly, teens were less likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs.
3. Getting outdoors together helps your child focus better
Research shows that just spending 20 minutes outdoors together helps improve your child’s overall concentration. It makes sense if you think about it because you’re giving them screen-free time to use their own imaginations and really connect with the world around them.
4. Family vacations make your kids smarter
True story! You can learn more about it here, but long story short, experts confirm that taking vacations together boosts your children’s brain power!
5. That post-vacation glow is contagious!
Experts found that people who come home from vacation feeling all relaxed and happy help spread those good feelings to others around them. What does that mean for you as a family? Basically, you’ll be feeding off each other’s positive energy and helping those happy vibes remain long after you’ve put away the last of your vacation laundry.
Now that you know why you should spend time together as a family, let’s take a look at some ways to fit it into your schedule.
Five Fun Things to Do This Summer with Your Kids
Whether you have a whole two weeks to get out of town or just a few hours to spend together each week, these ideas will give you a chance to bond and reap the benefits of family time!
1. Maximize your family vacations
Taking a family vacation is one of the best ways to really reap the benefits of family time because you’re more focused on each other. Maximize those benefits by also taking a vacation from your phone, social media, and other distractions. You can use your phone to look up directions or take pictures if you don’t have a “regular” camera, but that’s it. Speaking of pictures, definitely take some, but don’t spend your entire vacation looking through the lens of a camera. The idea is to be wholly present!
2. Plan a staycation right in your own town
Can’t afford to go out of town? A week-long staycation is a great alternative. If you can swing it, book a hotel room for the full “vacation” experience. If you can’t, don’t worry, you can “staycation” right in your own home. Either way, take a week and act like a tourist in your town, visiting attractions that you’ve just never gotten around to seeing. The same phone and social media rules above apply!
3. Try “surprise destination” day trips
If a full week together is totally off the table, break your family time up into smaller chunks and plan weekend or day trips. Make it fun by keeping the destination a secret from your kids and giving them clues along the way. For example, if you’re planning a day trip to Disney World, you can give them a Disney book to color on the ride. At each rest stop, give them another clue, like a pair of mouse ears, a magic wand, or other things that they associate with the destination.
4. Set aside an hour or two after dinner for family time
Even if you’re able to go on vacation together, you should still set some time aside throughout the rest of the summer as designated family time. Try eating dinner outside when it’s nice out, then linger in the back yard and play some games. On rainy days, stay at the dining room table and take turns telling stories or talking about your day.
5. Plan weekly “family date nights”
What do you do when your schedules are so insane between work, sports, and other obligations that it’s impossible to carve out even an hour or two a night to spend together? Make family date nights, of course! Pick one night a week and completely unplug from distractions. While an occasional movie night is okay, try to choose activities that allow you to interact as a family. Cooperative board games like Kingdomino or Outfoxed are fun for younger kids. With these games, you and your kids play against the board instead of each other. For older kids and adults, try charades, Pictionary, and other games that get their creative juices flowing.
When it comes to family bonding activities, it’s not always about how much time you have, but how you spend the time. Whether you’re going away together for two weeks or just carving out two hours a week, as long as you remain focused on each other, you’ll reap the rewards!