37 minutes. That’s not long.
Go on an Instagram deep dive? 37 minutes.
Watch an episode of your favorite show, then ignore the remote when the countdown begins and it rolls into the next episode? 37 minutes and then some. Mentally reorganize your to-do list before actually checking anything off? Thirrrrrrrty Sevvvvvven Minnnnnutes.
All I’m saying is, 37 minutes goes by quickly.
So when a survey of American parents found that families spend just 37 minutes a day hanging out together, we noticed. After all, if we can so easily breeze through that amount of time on other things, there’s a good chance we’re phoning it in with our families too.
That’s why we’d like to invite you to join us on a challenge.
Challenge: Make Your Minutes Count
If you’re like the parents surveyed, you’ve probably got a few understandable reasons for struggling to spend more time with your family, including the demands of work, chores, and your kids’ activities.
That’s why we want to be clear from the start. We’re not here to pressure you into adding more family minutes to your daily total. We’re simply encouraging you—and ourselves—to make the most of the minutes we already have. Are you in?
Great! We’ll start with some overarching thoughts and then get into a few practical ideas.
Think: Quality Over Quantity
What would you say if I told you that those big chunks of time you spend in your child’s vicinity physically while in your own world mentally don’t count? Not to your kid anyway. Kids long to be seen, heard, and enjoyed.
In these pandemic times, you might read this and feel the urge to scream, “WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME, LADY?”
I’m with you. We’re all together a lot these days. Like, a lot. But what I want to communicate here is the age-old rule of less is more. Of quality over quantity. Of little moments over big displays.
Done right, we’re so much better off looking for small opportunities to connect than we are setting aside time we don’t have to half-heartedly participate in relationships.
So as you’re thinking through your daily allotment of family time, keep these things in mind:
- I’m not looking for more time, I’m looking to spend our time more purposefully.
- We don’t need a solid 37 minutes to hang. We can grab five or ten minutes here and there throughout the course of an entire day.
- My kids long to be seen, heard, and enjoyed. That won’t take much time, but it will require intention.
Help Yourself: Set Your Phone Aside
We’ll save surveys, stats, and deep thoughts on parental phone use for another time. We all know we spend too much time on our phones. I sure do.
We can give ourselves an advantage and avoid inevitable distraction by leaving our phone in another room when we engage with our family. You can turn the volume up so you don’t miss important calls. Or turn notifications off if you know every ding will bring you running.
Our phones might not reach total “out of sight, out of mind” status, but I can promise you this: your kids will notice. And they might even say something like, “Where’s your phone? You know, I think you’re on your phone too much.” Guilty as charged. But grateful for the reminder.
5 Ideas for Grabbing Quality Time Together
Making the most of your minutes can be simple. We gathered a few ideas below, but you might also brainstorm with your spouse and kids about what they’d like to do. Who knows what they’ll come up with!
- Teach your kids an old-school card game. Something like War, Slap Jack, or Speed. These games require little setup, are easy to get going once you know the rules, and either run short or can be stopped and restarted at any time.
- Get silly with a song. Host a dance party in the hallway, sing karaoke using a lyric-laden YouTube video, or crank up some lively tunes before dinner. You can play just one song or keep on rocking until your heart’s content.
- Take a quick walk together. Walking takes you out of the home and away from most of your parental duties, leaving you free to relax and chat. Plus, just 12 minutes of brisk walking can put your whole crew in a better mood!
- Flip the script on bedtime. Instruct your kids to brush their teeth and get into pajamas right after dinner. By doing this, you avoid bedtime blues later on and can instead spend the last few minutes of the evening cuddling up, reading books, and talking.
- Watch with wide eyes. The easiest of them all. Find your kids, sit close by, and give them your full attention. While they play, say, with full sincerity, “Oh wow, I want to know all about what you’re doing!” Linger for a minute or two longer and move on.
Making the most of our minutes really is that easy. Our kids just want to be seen, heard, and enjoyed and we can do that with the time we already have. I’ll be working on this on my end and I hope you will too!