If you’re desperately trying to find ways to spend quality time with your children, you are definitely not alone. According to a recent survey 96% of parents in the U.S. would give up the Internet, shopping, sleeping in, even coffee, for just one more hour with their kids every week.
Parenting expert Amy McCready joined me recently from Disney Parks to discuss simple ways parents can create quality time with their kids whether it’s in the car on the way to soccer practice or while on a week long vacation.
Candace Rose: How do parents define quality time with their children?
Amy McCready: “Well, in a recent survey commissioned by Disney Parks, parents define quality time as that time when you’re getting to know something new about your child, earning more about their interests or their friends or going on in their world and when they’re getting to learn more about us. But what’s happening with our crazy busy lives with our work schedules and our kids activities, parents are feeling somewhat disconnected and there’s a real deficit in the amount of quality time that we have. So we’re looking at ways that we can reclaim some of that quality time for American families.”
Candace Rose: How is it that vacations improve the family dynamic?
Amy McCready: “Well, vacations are so important for family quality time because it really allows us to unplug from the day to day chaos of life. And when you go on vacation you have that captive audience. In the survey parents reported that on vacation about 81% of the time that they spend with their kids would be considered quality time, compared to just 50% at home. The other thing that happens on vacation is that they share twice as many meals together, again great quality time. And they also tell us that they’re more affectionate and friendly and relaxed and excited- all the way that our kids love us most. So to the point, that dynamic really changes when you’re on vacation, which makes it so much better for quality time.”
Candace Rose: What are some ways that families can reconnect?
Amy McCready: “Well, parents can of course reconnect on vacation, but they can also connect day in and day out. So just finding that one on one time with your kids on a daily basis where you’re hanging out doing whatever they love to do- it can be playing a game of cards or shooting hoops in the driveway, it’s spending time doing what your kids love to do. The other thing that I think is great for families is to create a weekly ritual, so you could do Friday night movie night, and that could be something that the kids look forward to every week. Again, you’re creating those memories and that good quality time. And when you can, whether it’s for a day trip or a weekend or a full week, getting away for vacation is a great way to make that happen. Parents have mentioned that of course theme parks, but also beaches and cruises and camping were some of their top choices for great quality vacation time.”
Candace Rose: What are some of the top vacation trends for the next five years?
Amy McCready: “Well, the trend is that vacation travel is on the increase. I think in large part because parents realize that this is such great quality time. For parents who do travel, they said in the next five years they plan to take the same number or more family vacations. Again, I think we’ve all realized we’re so desperate for family time and getting away with the family and spending time together is a great way to get some of that time back.
Here at Disney they call it ‘Disney time’, where everybody can just kind of relax and be a kid.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share with us?
Amy McCready: “Well, I would say be intentional about your family time. I always tell parents to take those ordinary times and make them extraordinary. So even if you’re in the car driving to and from soccer practice, take that time and make it extraordinary. Tell jokes, sing songs, turn off the radio and get to know your kids. It’s the little moments that add up in addition to the big family vacation time as well.”
Candace Rose: Where can viewers go for more information?
Amy McCready: “Well for more information on where to travel and where to stay and what to do here at Disney, you can go to DisneyParks.com.”