Gather the family together

Simple ways to enjoy more family time

Gather the family together

Skillfully balancing an entire family’s demands from school, sports, activities and careers leaves little down time, but keeping family values front and center may be easier than you think when you make a commitment to carving out meaningful moments to share.

Unplug from the digital world. Today’s technology-ridden world makes it easy for families to be present but not engaged. When you create a technology-free zone, you eliminate distractions so you can keep the focus on each other. Dedicate time every week to spend as a family without the use of TV, tablets, computers and phones. 

Bond and bake together. There’s a little baker in everyone. After all, who can help but “woo-hoo” when you pull fresh cupcakes out of the oven? Take a little time to embrace your inner Doughboy, turn your kitchen into a fun zone and savor all the moments with your family. One easy way to get started is with Pillsbury Purely Simple baking and frosting mixes, which use simple ingredients and contain no colors, preservatives or artificial flavors, providing a delicious homemade taste. 

Pine Bush resident, Barb Eylers-Mariner’s daughter, Meghan, is a high school senior who, in addition to school work, spends time with the family’s cats, does housework and walks. She’s also learning to bake and making all kinds of breads.  

“I make her a hearty breakfast with hot cocoa with marshmallows and sprinkles” Eylers-Mariner said. “We watch fun movies and walk. We need some dry weather.”

READ MORE: Singing can be the family bonding you've been missing

Share family stories. Reminiscing about special family moments is an essential part of keeping those memories alive. Showcasing old photo albums is a great way to share fun and nostalgic memories, which can help bring your family closer together. Whether it was a trip to the mountains or visiting a nearby museum, discussing and reliving these memorable moments can evoke fond memories and a willingness to create new ones.

Set a day each week for family night. It’s easy to get caught up in a busy schedule, which is why consciously setting aside family time is essential. Once it’s set, you may be tempted to turn the open night at home into an invitation to catch up on housework or even just relax. Avoid the temptation and instead look for fun ways to spend that time as a family. The dishes and laundry will still be waiting after you spend a few hours together. Start a puzzle or play a board game. Initiate a DIY project for the house, spend time baking or cooking a meal or simply sit together and talk about what’s happening in the lives of those who matter most.

Another idea is to play online games together. A few free and paid services include:

  • Virtual card and board games

  • My Free Bingo Cards: The popular number-matching game

  • Scattergories: Online version of the fun, fast-paced word game

  • Tabletopia: Hundreds of virtual board games

  • Pogo: Free online board games

  • GamesGames: Math, puzzle, card and board games

  • YouTube: Free, full-length family movies

  • Hulu: Free trial for family and other movies and programs, paid service

  • Netflix: Free trial for family and other movies and programs, paid service

Support each other. Mom Carolyn Pallett-Brophy of East Fishkill, whose son, Brian, is a senior at John Jay High School, said getting her family outdoors is good for all of them.

“Be sure your kids know they’re not alone,” she said. “This is a rough time for both adults and kids. Don’t worry about not being on a regular schedule. I try to help take the stress off his shoulders by making sure he is able to talk it through. I want him to know his options.” 

As well, Lauren Zorilo and husband Billy of Wappingers Falls and their four kids enjoy being together as a family.

“There is a future and be happy about moving forward,” Zorilo said. “Be positive. Spend more time as a family; play board games together. Create a sense of normalcy. Have your kids do their chores. Remind them that things will get better.”