Introduction to family time

Spending time with the family doing enjoyable things together contributes to emotional health and wellbeing, but the past several decades have seen considerable changes in the ways and amount of time Australian families spend together. New challenges such as increased female employment and dual-income families, greater mobility, and the development of new communication technologies such as the internet and mobile phones have all contributed. These changes may mean that some people do not spend enough time with their family members. If a person has resolved to increase family time, it is important that a conscious strategy on how to achieve this is developed.

Why spend more time with family?

Spending time with the family is important for developing strong relationships amongst family members and maintaining a healthy, happy family.

Tips for spending more time with family

Make your exercise routine a family exercise routine

It is important to get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day, and time spent exercising can also be time spent with the family. For example, try taking the kids (and the dog) to the park, having a game of cricket in the backyard, or planning a day of outdoor activity on the weekend.

For more information, see Getting More Exercise.

Make some family routines or rituals

Make sure the family has some routines and rituals. Routines may include eating dinner together as a family, spending time reading stories together before going to bed, or simply getting the family together to do the chores. Rituals include birthday and other annual gatherings, and planning weekend outings or activities. Routines and rituals mean time spent together as a family, but have also been shown to strengthen family relationships and increase marital satisfaction.

Spend quality time with children

Family timeChildren need love, support and supervision, and parents are the key providers of these. Set aside time to spend with your children, and make it quality time in which you get to know each other better. Show you care by taking an interest in what they do and who their friends are. Help them with homework and others tasks, and teach them about healthy and safe living. Be responsive to their emotional needs and ensure their environment is loving and supportive.

Balance time between work and the family

Parents who work outside the home spend less time with their children than those who do not, and the amount of time parents spend with children decreases as the number of hours the parents work increases. This is at least partly due to the time spent away from children while at work. However, this highlights the need for working parents to be conscious about balancing work and family commitments.

Take time to show the kids affection

Put aside some time to show affection to your children. Physical affection such as hugs and kisses are one way of showing affection, but affection can also be expressed by talking and listening to children and doing things together.

Spend time with or keep in touch with extended family members

A family outing to visit grandparents, aunts and uncles or other relatives is an opportunity for the family to get together and spend some quality time with each other. If visiting is not possible, keep in touch by writing, emailing or telephoning (and get the whole family involved).

More information

Health in the New Year For more information on staying healthy in the New Year, including tips on diet, partying, exercise and general health, see Health in the New Year.
Parenting For more information on various aspects of parenting, see Parenting.



  1. Baxter J, Gray M, Hayes A. A snapshot of how Australian families spend their time [online]. Australian Institute of Family Studies. 25 November 2009 [cited 17 December 2009]. Available from URL: institute/ pubs/ snapshots/ familytime.html
  2. Fun ways to get moving [online]. Population Health Devision, Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. 10 November 2008 [cited 13 December 2009]. Available from URL: internet/ healthyactive/ publishing.nsf/ Content/ fun
  3. Fiese BH, Tomcho TJ, Douglas M, Josephs K, Poltrock S, Baker T. A review of 50 years of research on naturally occurring family routines and rituals: cause for celebration? J Fam Psychol. 2002; 16(4): 381-90.
  4. Parents: Tips for raising safe and healthy kids [online]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 30 December 2008 [cited 17 December 2009]. Available from URL: family/ parenttips/ index.htm

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