Whether your family enjoys time together playing board games, cooking, hiking, checking out new restaurants, shooting hoops, or listening to podcasts, with the advent of the new school year there is simply less time for the simple pleasure of unpressured family time. Despite our accelerated pace, we know intuitively—and studies reinforce—that children benefit from family time: it enhances a family’s cohesion, lowers risk of drug use in adolescents, and increases academic success. We need the downtime and the connection in order to recharge and to avoid burnout.
Weeknights are notoriously hectic. Homework often takes center stage, and with it, the cajoling, supervising, and organizing that falls to parents. At Turning Point, we strive to assign homework that is meaningful, purposeful, and efficient. It should help children to build and strengthen skills. But even the best homework is still homework, and with early weeknight bedtimes, families often have to wait until weekends to spend time together. And with more structured activities during weekends, easy-going, casual time is becoming rarer.
You may know that Denmark has the honor of being the “happiest country in the world,” according to The World Happiness Report. Danish culture emphasizes taking pleasure in everyday things and creating a sense of “coziness” or “warmth.” The term for this notion of being present is hygge (pronounced hue-gah). In our busy lives, we can see hanging out time as wasted, unproductive time, but acknowledging and celebrating the ordinary can benefit us as much as it does our children.
Turning Point has had a long tradition of Family Nights; monthly “no homework” Monday evenings. As you will see on your Turning Point calendar, our first Family Night is this Monday, September 26. These deliberate homework breaks are designed to make space for family time. While you may be tempted to catch up on laundry, grocery shopping, or even a well-deserved nap, we strongly encourage you to enjoy time together as a family doing a fun, non-electronic leisure activity (although cleaning the house together could be a viable option!).
If you are searching for ideas, consider the following:
- Skype with an extended family member
- Cook and eat a family meal together
- Go bowling
- Throw a Frisbee at a local park
- Walk on the beach
- Look at photo albums together
We would love to know about your “hygge” activity. Please send a photo of your family time to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon on Tuesday, September 27. We will publish these on our Facebook page and feature a few in next week’s Wednesday Weekly.
Enjoy your time together as a family to recharge, reconnect, and simply enjoy. I look forward to seeing your photos next week!