Family life with children is hectic and time is always at a premium. Everyone - young and old - has their own busy schedules, and this means that there may only be a few moments available every day for activities which involve both parents and children. You're certainly not alone if you feel you and your children are spending less and less time together, and more and more time doing lone activities. For many UK families, family life has becomes more about 'doing' than about 'being' and shared quality time takes second place to other priorities. This is a problem, but it is solvable.
The challenge for many of today's families, not unsurprisingly, is that they find themselves increasingly 'cash rich' but 'time poor.' In other words, though the standard of living in general has grown due to a rise in parental disposable income (relative to previous generations), time has become a scarce commodity due to a combination of factors such as children's increasingly busy out-of-school schedules, parents spending more time working than ever before, and the upsurge in social media usage by both parents and children. You know what it's like - your phone never stops ringing or pinging, your inbox constantly reminds you that something's waiting to be read, and your children always seem to need to be driven somewhere (if they are not already absorbed in their own solitary digital worlds.)
Our struggle to make time for shared plans is something that stood out in the Bassetts Vitamins Family Life Survey, a study of 2,000 UK families. Indeed, almost half of parents with children under 18 said they were truly 'desperate' to spend more time together and 1 in 10 explained that their lives are so busy they don't spend any time together at all. A fifth of survey respondents admitted that they regularly go a full week without getting together as a family, and homework, technology and work are among the biggest barriers to achieving a better work-life balance. But, and as many of you will have experienced first-hand, the benefits of quality family time are both broad and meaningful. Parents observed that their children were happier (68%), they wanted to spend more time together (50%), were more loving (42%), sleep better (29%) and even have better appetites (15%).
So, how do we solve the problem? The good news is that 'family time' is an umbrella concept that covers a vast range of possible opportunities - what they all have in common is that the child and their parents are engaged together in a shared activity. There really is no one 'family time' activity that is right for every family; and these shared experiences can take place during the week or at the weekend, during the day, or in the evening after school, when work, chores and homework are finished - all that matters is that the child, or children, and parents participate fully with each other. Sometimes, just walking silently together through the park, holding hands, smiling occasionally at each other, can be very powerful emotionally for you both, even though you don't actually say a word to each other. Family time is about connecting with each other, about being in-tune with each other, about listening to each other, and about sharing with each other. You might achieve that while walking your child to school in the morning, while your friend might not achieve that connection until the whole family is on a holiday together.
The struggle to make family time is a solvable problem and you'll find the planning, effort and commitment required is well worth it. I've recently authored an expert report in partnership with Bassetts Vitamins - a Purple Paper - into the challenges to contemporary family life when trying to find shared time together; in addition to assessing the positive impact of shared family time on all members, it offers suggestions to help you to make the most of precious childhood years.
To help transform your daily routine into moments of family connection, Bassetts Vitamins has created 3,000 free rainbow-filled Colour Quest packs, full of big and small, bright and bold ideas to make the everyday full of fun. From rushed school runs to rainbow eye-spy and tea-time chaos to purple-themed cook-off, your family colour quest is only the spin of a coloured dice away. All you have to do is visit www.colourquestkit.co.uk to request yours.