ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 11 , 2007
Vol. 41 - No 41

Let’s make time to get together

By Ayesha Inoon

Time spent with family is always precious – more so if there is less of it. In today’s average family, most of us are running in a million different directions. With both parents working and the children being involved in school and other activities, it seems that the time families spend together has become rarer than ever.

“It is important that you make the most of the time you spend together,” says Counsellor Priya Kodipilly, adding that it is this concentrated, uninterrupted time that families spend together that brings them closer and strengthens their relationships with each other.

Finding common interests and activities help families talk to each other and communicate thoughts and feelings, she explains, quoting Virginia Satir’s words – “Communication is to relationship as breathing is to life.” After all, it is ultimately these relationships – between spouses, siblings, parents and children – that matter most in our lives.

Plan ahead and make it a priority

Planning ahead can help to maximise the time families spend together. Get the children involved in planning activities, advises Mrs. Kodipilly, and discuss options that the whole family will enjoy. Make it clear that spending time together is a priority – children will appreciate this, especially as they grow older, and the fact that their parents felt ‘family time’ to be an important part of their lives will help to build their sense of security.

Having dinner together

One of the simplest things families can do to spend time together on a daily basis, is to have dinner together, says Mrs. Kodipilly. While it may be unrealistic to try to have breakfast or lunch at the same time, they can definitely make family dinner-time a priority.

Make the meal enjoyable and relaxing, she advises, and take the opportunity to find out about each other’s day. Above all, remove distractions such as the television and the telephone. If there are any ‘must-watch’ programmes, try to have it recorded to watch afterward, and ask any callers to call back later.

Family outings

Going on excursions together is a great way to bond as a family, says Mrs. Kodipilly, and does not necessarily have to mean an expensive holiday at a posh hotel. From simple things - like taking a walk, or visiting the park or the beach - to taking a trip to a wild-life sanctuary such as Yala, an outing is one of the best ways to break away from the tedium of daily routines and enjoy new experiences together as a family.

For Pradeep and Miranjala - both working parents - an outing every fortnight with their young daughters is a must. “Usually it is to visit their grandparents who live out of Colombo,” says Pradeep.

Games and activities

Both indoor and outdoor games as well as other activities can be a fun way for families to spend time together. “We enjoy playing Scrabble,” says Qureisha, adding that they learn a lot from each other during the game and that it also teaches the children how to lose gracefully.

Sharing chores

Sumedha and her husband, who are both Directors of a company, insist on cooking dinner together with their daughters, both 17 and 14 years old. “We share many household chores and this has made as very close as a family,” says Sumedha, explaining that even though they have domestics, they send them home so that the family can be by themselves in the evenings.


Parents can encourage a love of books as well as develop a closer relationship with their children by reading to them from a very young age, says Mrs. Kodipilly. Both fathers and mothers should make a habit of reading to their children, perhaps at bed-time, and use that time to discuss the story and anything they can learn from it as well.

Reading can even be a bonding factor in families with older children such as Qureisha’s.

Spiritual time

Going to church on Sunday mornings with their daughters, for Pradeep and Miranjala, is one of the most important things they do together as a family. In addition, says Pradeep, they also pray together daily in the mornings and evenings, which he feels brings them even closer together as a united family in the presence of God.

Religious and cultural rituals give all of us, especially children, a sense of identity and are an important factor in bringing families close together, says Mrs. Kodipilly, stressing that families should try to set aside some time for prayers or other spiritual activities according to their personal beliefs.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.