When was the last time you had a nice relaxing dinner with your loved ones? Or spending time with family on Friday night, just chillin’ and maybe playing some family games?
If those are similar to your usual agendas, it’s awesome! Keep it up, you’re doing great👏👏👏
But if family game nights happen only on Christmas or other holiday seasons, you may need to consider scheduling more time to do family bonding activities, especially when you have kids. It’s because studies revealed that our well-being would significantly benefit from spending family time.
Also, having meaningful relationships is confirmed to improve physical and mental health in long term, even better than hiring a personal fitness trainer!
Beautiful. Another reason not to go to the gym.
So, without any further due, here are the 10 benefits of spending more time with family:
Why is family time good for you?
1. Lengthen life expectancy
Harvard Study of Adult Development—which took 8 decades of data collection—has proved that people who keep warm relationships tend to live longer and happier.
The effect was remarkable so that psychiatrist George Vaillant, the director who led the study from 1972 until 2004, emphasized the crucial role of relationships in people living long and pleasant lives. He goes as far as to say that the key to healthy ageing is relationships.
Life Expectancy of The World Population (1955-2020)
Supporting the statement, Dr. Robert Waldinger, current director of the study, said that people who were the most satisfied in their relationships at age 50 were the healthiest at age 80. This discovery showed us the powerful influence of relationships on our health.
On the other hand, a study that examined the data of more than 309,000 people found that lacking strong relationships increased the risk of premature death by 50%, roughly comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day, and greater than obesity and physical inactivity.
2. Keep our brain healthy
Based on the same study, Dr. Waldinger further explained another benefit of having a good relationship. It protects our brain functions.
“Good relationships don’t just protect our bodies; they protect our brains,” he said in his TED talk. “And those good relationships, they don’t have to be smooth all the time. Some of our octogenarian couples could bicker with each other day in and day out, but as long as they felt that they could really count on the other when the going got tough, those arguments didn’t take a toll on their memories.”
What’s more, another research found that women with less marital conflicts were likely to have better memory functions. Also, it showed that the feeling of secureness to partners made women less depressed and happier in their relationships two-and-a-half years later.
3. Strengthen the immune system
The current pandemic made us realize how important it is to have a strong immune system. Well, the good news is positive relationships resulted in higher body protection against viruses, bacterias, and other threatening organisms or diseases💪
While investigating the biological and behavioral factors which account for the health benefits of connecting with others, scientists have found that it also helps relieve harmful levels of stress. It can adversely affect immune system, as well as insulin regulation, gut function, and coronary arteries (more on this next).
On the contrary, disappointing or negative interactions with family and friends have been associated with poorer health. One intriguing line of research has found signs of reduced immunity in couples during especially hostile marital spats.
4. Lower risk of cardiovascular disease
A wise man said, “A happy heart is a good medicine.”
The statement is not overrated. Over the years, scientists have discovered that a warm and loving relationship lowered the risk of cardiovascular disease—one of the leading causes of global death, estimated at over 32% of death worldwide.
Another particular study also found that midlife women who were deeply satisfied with their marriages had a lower risk for cardiovascular disease compared to those in less satisfying marriages.
So, yes, planning on a romantic vacation ❤️ is worth the time and money.
5. Decrease dementia risk
Having a network of important relationships can also make a difference in reducing the risk of dementia. A large Swedish study of people aged 75 and over concluded that dementia risk was lowest in those with a variety of satisfying contacts with friends and relatives.
6. Enjoy a happier senior life
Going back to the Harvard Study first mentioned in this story, researchers discovered a significant association between happiness and close relationships with spouses, family, friends, and social circles.
Dr. Waldinger said, “Personal connection creates mental and emotional stimulation, which are automatic mood boosters, while isolation is a mood buster.”
He also stated that marital satisfaction has a protective effect on people’s mental health. The report showed that people who had happy marriages in their 80s admitted their moods didn’t suffer even when they endured physical pain. Conversely, those who had unhappy marriages felt both emotional and physical pain.
The outcome disclosed the gravity of personal connections—that often forgotten—in regards to mental health. It’s so unsettling that the trend of mental health disorders keeps rising over the years, even in the pre-pandemic period. And now during isolation, we come to the realization that we need emotional support from family and friends more than ever.
7. Strengthen the emotional bond
As mentioned before, spending time with family is not only good for the body but also for your mental health. Enjoying the company of family will result in a stronger emotional bond which is essential to develop a happy relationship.
In fact, research has suggested that 40% of people’s happiness comes from the choices they make. Meaning, we have to make conscious efforts to invest the energy and time for our family in order to gain the benefit of being happy.
The quality of family bonding is not solely determined by kinship, it needs commitment and caring. Families who share daily activities are more likely to form strong emotional ties.
8. Develop positive behavior
Children learn positive values and practices from their families. The more time we spend with them, the easier it is to develop positive behavior. For example, playing family games is not only about fun and emotional bonding, through games kids learn to respect other people and playing fair.
Moreover, research confirmed that children who spend time with families have shown less risk of behavioral problems such as violence and substance abuse.
Besides, you may also share the same benefit as parenthood is a powerful motivation to develop self positive behavior. Parents are more likely to show the best version of themselves around kids, to become a good role model for them.
If you’re looking for some references on how to develop kids’ important skills, this guide may help you🤞
9. Stimulate adaptive skills
Spending time with family can grow our interpersonal communication skills, including kids’. As a family, we learn constructive ways to discuss, debate, and find effective solutions.
It is also the key to stimulating adaptability and resilience regarding life’s highs and downs. The ability to overcome challenges and changes may improve significantly with strong family bonding. The sense of belonging and knowing that there are people who cared give us the assurance and motivation to thrive and succeed.
10. Foster self-esteem
Family can make a remarkable difference in how we value ourselves which is principal to developing solid self-esteem. We need people who acknowledge our strong points and help us overcome our weaknesses. Family is first the place to foster confidence and develop a positive self-concept.
A study suggested that parental warmth and monitoring are key parenting behaviors for self-esteem development. For example, by showing affection and care, accepting the child, helping, encouraging, and praising.
Source: IG @lunarbaboon
What is the definition of family time?
After knowing the amazing benefit of spending family time, I hope we’ll be more motivated to invest more energy in it. But first, we have to be on the same page about defining “family time”.
If looking at the term alone, pretty sure almost 100% of people know the meaning. Yes, it’s a time we spend with people we love and care about. And yet, the time we spend with them doesn’t always result in stronger emotional connections.
The truth is spending more time with family and spending QUALITY time with them are two different things, like apple and orange. It’s a tug of war between quantity vs quality.
Indeed, every family is unique, but we have the basic formula to help it works: prioritizing quality time.
Freeing our schedule for a short vacation is not enough if we end up spending time Zooming with coworkers. It should be the time when family bonding together.
Meaning, while we are preoccupied with paying the bills, we need to make room for the family to grow emotionally—not only financially. Children also need to perceive our love and care through small attentive gestures when we listen to their stories, our reactions, our appreciation, and so on. In short, kids must know that Mom and Dad will always have their back, that they have a home to come to, no matter what.
So it’s not only about how much time you invested in your family but also your attention in every moment together. For example, spending 3 hours for family dinner will be less effective if everybody is busy with their phones. It's better to cut it to one hour but everyone presents emotionally and enjoys the relaxing conversation.
Oh gosh, family is hard work—couldn’t agree more. But boy, it’s worth the sweat.
Source: IG @thechildhoodcollective
How to spend quality time with family
Now, it’s time to discuss how to move forward with the basic formula. Hopefully, we already agree that spending quality time with family is far more important than just quantity. So now we just need to define “quality” factors.
Firstly, every member of the family must be present and attentive—no phones, no work. Keep your attention only to them, engage in conversation, and just be in the moment.
Secondly, we have to choose the activities wisely because the whole family has to enjoy the agenda. Plan something that is fun for everyone.
For example, you can schedule family vacations on holiday or a short weekend getaway in town. There are many family vacation ideas you can choose from on the internet. It can also be as simple as chilling out and having funny family games to play at home. But if you prefer your kids to learn something through games, there are also plenty of educational games that are suitable for kids. We have lists of games you may be interested in, such as Battlechips and many others. Checkout our complete offers here.
At last, nothing beats daily activities together. You need to keep in mind that crafting a shared daily routine is vital. For instance, a mealtime at least once in a day—breakfast or dinner. Make it the time to talk about what everybody has been going through. But remember to keep it light and avoid judgemental remarks so that everyone feels comfortable discussing anything.
To give you more ideas, we can see how the Australian Dads hang out with their kids during pandemics:
Source: Families in Australia Survey: Life during Covid-19, Report no. 4: Dads spend more quality time with kids
Given the benefit, spending time with family together—like playing family games or similar—can be considered as a long life health investment. We want to keep fit in our 80s, don’t we?
That’s why we need to have the right mindset to get our priorities straight. It’s not wrong to work hard so that our family can live in a big house with a swimming pool and our children can have the best education. But we can never forget that they also need something far more important in life: your time.
Kids are growing rapidly. The time when they are begging for playtime together will come to an end. At some point, they will prefer to spend most of their time with friends rather than with parents. Soon, they are going to leave the house, go to college, work out of town, and start their own family.
If we initially build deep connections with them, it’s easier to maintain parent-child relationships through those stages of life. Spending more time together makes a strong family unit that will stick together through rough times, besides enjoying the fun times together (read our guide to plan your fun family game night activities).
It’s a privilege to have people who love us unconditionally, thus don’t take your loved ones for granted, make your best effort to spend more time with them. Be happy and healthy together :)
The ball is in your court…