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Family Files

Be an intentional family

family walking in the woods on trail

Since mindfulness can also mean being intentional, we should have the conversation about whether we practice being mindful with our families. Most of us say that family is most important to us and that we put them first – but do we? A 2018 Nielsen report stated that American adults spend over 11 hours per day listening to, watching, reading or generally interacting with media. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children are spending an average of seven hours a day on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices (I wonder how those numbers have changed with the current shelter at home guidelines!) Then when you consider school, work, sports, band, volunteering, scholastic events, and youth groups, it is hard to figure out how to spend time with family members.

However, spending time together as a family is important. Research has found that children are better off in terms of academic and emotional well-being from time spent with parents. Family routines and rituals experienced in childhood also set the course for how one will organize their own family life in adulthood. Quality time with parents is important for children's growth and development and it helps children to develop in a positive way as they grow.

Sometimes you need to purposefully plan family activities – or be an intentional family. Here are some suggestions to get started:

  • Schedule "My Calendar Day" for each family member. On a specific day of the week, one family member gets to pick the dinner menu, select the TV show or activity to do.
  • Have a Sunday sundae.
  • Establish family rituals. The more rituals a family has, the better members will work as a team and become stronger as a family.
  • Have a family getaway (could even be camping in the backyard!)
  • Have lunch at school together.
  • Outdoor activities are especially important – make sure to "unplug."
  • Choose a weekly or monthly Family Night In, where you intentionally spend quality time together.


Original post written by Cheri Burcham and published in Family Files, February 2018
Source: Cheri Burcham, University of Illinois Extension