One of the things I wrote about plenty last Summer was how much I loved family time, how much I loved being outdoors and my love for the beach life we enjoy here as a family on the south coast of England. You can have a read of some of our antics here, Beach Life The Order of The Day!  This weekend just gone by, in among the children’s classes and weekend jobs that we did, as a family, we made an effort to make sure that we spent plenty of time together, both indoors and outdoors.

We visited the beach and walked our dog, while the children collected shells, ran around in the windy conditions, skimmed pebbles in the sea, jumped over beach grounds and generally breathed lots of fresh air.

Then on Sunday, following on from my son’s first junior Parkrun event that I wrote about earlier this year (read about it here: Hypnosis for Running, The Next Generation), my younger daughter joined the ranks of Eason family runners, and all four of us (me, my wife and two children) ran the local junior park run event. My 4 year old daughter loved it, she ran the entire way without stopping or pausing, though she did insist on skipping some of it! All the while, my 5 year old son ran his 4th consecutive personal best time. Here are the feet of Team Eason!

We celebrated and had friends around afterwards for brunch, and spent more time together as a family.

This was a hectic weekend, and those of you who have young children know how exhausting it can be at times, yet this morning as I stepped into my office, I felt rejuvenated. Parents and children alike benefit greatly from spending quality family time together. Heck, my son loves it when he joins me in our family VW day van to go to the local rubbish tip! He sits up with his Dad and we talk, watch the diggers and are simply together.

It was this weekend that I was reminded of something Stephen Covey refers to in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He writes about having an emotional bank account with your family and friends, and that as you continue to invest time, energy, love and consideration into that account, the relationship develops, though it does not take much to deplete what you have banked in misunderstandings, impatience, arguments and so on. I do not think there is any wiser investment than that of spending quality time with family. The benefits are proven scientifically and I thought I’d share a few of those as it was at the forefront of my mind today, the bottom line is that family time can contribute greatly and positively to your physical, emotional and mental health.

This seems obvious, yet can soon fade away from the front of our minds due to modern life, and how busy, hectic, tiring and distracting it can be.

Spending regular quality time together and engaging in leisure activities strengthens the family bond.  Whether it is indoor or outdoor activities, this holds true. You do not have to spend a fortune; local park runs are free, digging out an old board game, having meals together and even doing things like the gardening or taking a walk together have a profound impact on the health of the family.

These types of activities make everyone involved in them feel emotionally closer to other family members, and this is a good thing.

2. Outdoor Time In Particular Can Help Unplug:

A few weeks ago, I gave the science and many a valid reason for having a digital Detox, you can read that article here, it’s important: Why You Need A Digital Detox and How To Have One.

Quality family time together is a lot more difficult to achieve if someone is attached to their smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Spending time unplugged, especially if you make the effort and take the time to go outdoors (into nature especially), offers up a marvellous antidote to being attached to electronic gadgets so often in other areas of our personal and professional lives.

3. Boosts Your Child’s Academic Performance:

A child’s academic success is associated with having parents who provide support, assistance and guidance when needed. The early stages are typically the toughest but also the most important. In particular when it comes to studying. When the parent provides quality support and guidance through the child’s early academic years, this has a very positive effect in the future.

It is generally considered to be great for your child’s mental development to have plenty of time together with family. Typically and across most studies on the subject, results show that children who spend more time with their parents do better at school than those who spend less time with their parents.

4. Social Networks Are Good For Your Health:

A fairly recent study by Brigham Young University and the University of North Carolina suggests that having strong social ties could help you live a longer, healthier life. Family time creates more social ties and one’s ability to develop them outside of the family.

The study highlighted the fact that that social ties’ impact on longevity is actually the same as that which is seen between people who smoke and don’t smoke, TIME reported. The study is based on the findings of 300,000 people who were included in 148 different studies, and was published in the journal PLoS Medicine.

5. Friends And Family Make A Difference In Your Healthy Habits:

This is a majorly important factor to me. I want my children to grow up valuing health and well-being. Your friends and family are incredibly influential when it comes to the kind of lifestyle you lead, according to a 2011 survey.

The research reported that 36 percent of people say their nutrition is affected by influence from their friends and family. And 46 percent of people in the survey said that their loved ones make a difference in their overall healthy lifestyles.

Your physical health improves naturally as a result of doing activities and sports together as well as better nourishment provided from home-cooked family meals, but the ongoing conversations, games and so on are good for one’s mental health and agility too.

Spending family time outdoors together has other knock-on benefits too, as a stress reliever; in a study published in Landscape and Urban Planning,  the stress hormone cortisol was measured in participants. The subjects were asked questions about their daily lives and what stressed them out at home and at work. The results showed that adults living in greener spaces were less likely to be prone to daily stressors in their lives in comparison to their urban-dwelling counterparts.

That is some good encouragement to go and spend a day outdoors having family time.

There are many other benefits of family time that you can go and research further, you don’t have to take my word for it. Put the phone down from time to time, turn the TV off, go outdoors, eat together and consider doing some of the following to get more family time together and all derive the benefits….

You can schedule family time: Maybe have a regular night that you get together for a fun activity. If you do not manage to eat all your meals together, how about a particular meal that is definitely one for all the family to join in with?

Studies have shown that eating meals together helps reinforce communication, especially if you ensure that no phones are allowed during the meal. If you unable to get together as a family for dinner because of busy schedules, then how about breakfast?

You could do the household or garden chores as a Family: Make tidying away toys, cleaning, or maintaining the garden a responsibility of everyone in the family. This absolutely constitutes family time. You can also use toys to share time with your kids, and after that tidying them. We have friends who play music when tidying up toys and have turned it into a fun activity that they all do together.

Some people recommend family meetings as a time to communicate well with each other, some families have mission statements, but even if you do not want to take family time that far, you all always want to encourage support. Remember the emotional bank account…. Family support is important and when you build a quality bond, it will last you all a lifetime, and beyond.

It’s important that we are at our best and so I’m not suggesting that we sacrifice every given moment for family time, that would not be wise, instead we continue to ensure we create a balance and have healthy time for ourselves too, have a read of this article to ensure you have that covered: Solitude – The Importance of ‘Me Time’ and How It’ll Make You More Successful.

Ok, that’s me for today, I had not planned to write about this, but am delighted that I did so – I think you’ll be equally as delighted if you adopt some of what is written here and have more family time. You have a wealth of well-being right there under your roof, make the most of it!