For most people, “spending more time with family” is one of the first things on the New Year’s resolution list – and is one of the first to drop off.  My brilliant plan about being all things to all people might look great on paper, but it is totally realistic. So how do you find family time when everything conspires to keep it just out of reach?

Here are my six fixes for keeping that resolution;

Put family time on the schedule, just like you would a business meeting.

It’s about a million times harder to delete something in “ink” than to simply not do the plans that were in your head.

Don’t just write down “family time” and leave it at that. 

Include a picture of your kids on each calendar post to guilt-trip yourself out of cancelling. Also, be sure to write in specifically what you will do so that you start mentally planning. Once you’ve put some time into organizing game night, a hike, or a trip to the zoo, it’s harder to boot it off the calendar in favour of work.

Be sure to share the plan with your spouse.

And if they are old enough, put a calendar app on your kids’ phones so that they see it, too.

Consider your family’s other plans.

Remember to take into consideration “milestones” that you might not care about, but your kids/spouse definitely do.  Some obvious examples? Do NOT plan something when a big game is on, during any music award shows, or at the exact time that all the kids normally congregate at the mall.

Don’t over-schedule.

In our house, expectation management is the key to happiness. Don’t over-schedule. Remember that quality family time can crop up at unexpected moments. So that your “planned” time will probably not be the only time you do things together.

Be creative.

Turn things that are going to be happening anyway, such as watching the local team play on TV, into “family time.” This can be as simple as getting logo shirts for everyone, making food in the team colours and having a “betting pool” on things, like how many times the announcer will say a certain word. Take pictures, post on social media, and voila! You’ve turned regular time into a family event that (hopefully!) they will remember.

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