Family time. Do you make time for it? Family time is an important part of our program at Hope for Single Moms. In the busyness of working and caring for your children, it’s an easy thing to put on the back burner. You may think, “one more thing to do in an already overwhelming life is not going to happen!” However, family time is essential!

Everyone wants to be loved and accepted for who they are. That happens with family time. It gives children a group they belong to– an identity. It also gives them a sense of security. This happens when you have rules and expectations.

Getting family time is a lot easier than you think! It begins with simple things–like a family dinner. Talking over dinner is a great way for your children to share their day. Ask them specific questions about the day’s activities. Don’t settle for, “school was fine.” What was fine about it? Family meals also gives your children a time to be heard. Really listen to them. Let them know their opinion matters. Let them share their victories and frustrations. Everyone wants to know what they say and do matter.

If you’re not already having family meals, begin with one dinner a week. No phones allowed. Build from there. Add one more dinner, and then another and another. At first it may be awkward. Don’t let that discourage you and cause you to quit.

Our family had “special” holiday meals. Now that my children have their own families, they are creating their own holiday meal traditions. For example, we had waffles with strawberries and whipped cream for holiday breakfasts. Otherwise, they had healthy breakfasts. Somehow, eating Mexican food on Christmas Eve became a tradition. You get the idea.

Once you’ve implemented family meals, add a family evening time. Yes, off electronics. Perhaps begin on the weekend, if your children have homework during the week. Again, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Keep it simple.

One option is a game night. What games did you play as a child? After a holiday dinner, we used to play pinochle (kind of like euchre). Now that my children are all grown up, we will often still play games when we’re together. Our new indoor favorite is “One Night Ultimate Werewolf.” In the summer, it’s stories around the campfire (while roasting marshmallows). All those family bloopers come back to haunt you. Your children have great memories!

A fond memory I have was my mom reading to me. It was a chapter a day. Classics a good are way for you to start, especially the illustrated classics. As part of our bedtime routine, my husband and I read two books to each child that he/she got to pick out. Now my adult children are reading to their children.

Another simple, inexpensive family activity is walks. In the spring look for new flowers; in the fall look for pretty leaves. Go bike riding, camping. Have a picnic in a park. Build a snowman. Make cookies. (Start with pre-made cookie dough).

Help your children start thinking about other people. Draw pictures or create homemade cards to send out. As they get older, you may want to serve somewhere as a family.

Whatever you do, love is spelled t-i-m-e when it comes to your children. Make time to spend together. You will never regret it! For more family time suggestions, go to our Pinterest page.