"My family doesn't have enough time together," writes Jennifere Borjeson, mother of Cassidy, 3, and Trevor, 5, from Worcester, MA. "The only day off that my husband and I share is Sunday. But there's usually an event to attend, cleaning to be done, or he goes golfing because he never gets time 'alone.' How can we make the most of the little family time we have?"
To the rescue
First: Try injecting some fun into the time you do have together, says Judy Ford, author of Wonderful Ways to Be a Family. "These are the moments that add up to a rich family life — not necessarily huge chunks of 'quality time,'" she says. "Get in the habit of being lighthearted, even when doing the mundane. Even little things like dancing with your 3-year-old or teaching your 5-year-old how to whistle can make a difference." Other suggestions:
- Be spontaneous. "Surprise your kids by taking them out to lunch or bringing home a movie in the middle of the week," suggests Ford.
- Take a chore-vacation. "When was the last time your family frittered away a day? Give your kids a 'No Chores Today' coupon, and join them in lounging around," she says. "The unmade beds will be there tomorrow."
What works for other parents
Every Friday night, my husband and I and our 8-year-old daughter watch a video together and then sleep in the same bed. The bed's way too small for all of us, and none of us sleeps very well, but at the end of the week this is a way to reconnect and share a big cuddle.
Brenda Mallory, Portland, OR
Each Saturday, we take our toddler on an "adventure." We go to the nursery for plants or throw rocks in the water at the beach. These things don't take much time, but we try to make it seem special by being together.
Gwyn Stobie, Maple Valley, WA
I'm a single parent with major time restrictions, and the way I make sure I get in some fun time with my 5-year-old is to write it on my calendar — that way, I know it will get done.
Billie Jo Royse, California, PA
The whole family is together on Sunday mornings when we go to church. We sing and clap along to one of our favorite tapes in the car the whole way there. It's a hit with all our kids — ages 3 through 11.
Leanne Jones, Michie, TN