Sometimes, fitting family time into a full life requires examining your own schedule. Here are ways to free up time to spend with loved ones and to focus on making family memories.

Between work, chores and the other million things you have going on, finding time for family can be tough! Use these five tips to help make family time fit into a full schedule — especially during a busy holiday season.

1. Schedule It

Adding family time into your digital calendar or planner makes it more likely you’ll honour it. So schedule a family Sunday brunch or special activity (such as a visit to an art gallery or museum, or even a hike) at least once a month. Slot in extra time in your evening for bedtime stories, or book a weekly Friday pizza dinner!

2. Make It a Family Activity

You can even turn regular household chores such as vacuuming, dusting, and tidying into a fun family competition.

Some activities in your schedule could do double duty as family time, especially during the holiday season. If you’re a parent, consider which holiday activities can include your family. Holiday volunteer commitments, cooking, baking, and shopping are all activities you can do with family. It’s also a great way to share your family’s values and traditions with your kids. You can even turn regular household chores such as vacuuming, dusting, and tidying into a fun family competition. Assign areas or tasks to each member, then race to see who finishes their area/task first.

3. Meal Time is Family Time

We all have to eat — so commit to dinner together at least three times a week. Resist the temptation of your phone by not bringing it to the table. Instead, mute your smartphones, turn off the TV and ask each family member about their day. What was the best thing that happened? Anything funny? What are you looking forward to tomorrow?

Eating together isn’t just good for your family as a whole, it’s good for your kids. As researchers from the University of Montreal discovered, children who regularly eat meals with their families are more likely to “experience long-term physical and mental benefits.”

4. Communicate When Commuting

Many families spend time together driving to school and extra-curricular activities. Use this time to communicate with each other. Turn down the radio, don’t allow earbuds or smartphones on at least a couple of drives each week.

Initiate conversations with your kids (or your spouse) by asking “what’s on the agenda” for the day. Share your plans for the day as well, including anything you’re looking forward to and what you’re “less than thrilled” about. This can help other family members feel comfortable sharing their own concerns about school, practices, or anything else on their mind.

Or go with a more light-hearted option. Play “would you rather” while you’re driving, or discuss upcoming family events, holidays, or vacations.

5. Simplify Your Schedule

Sometimes, fitting family time into a full life requires simplifying your own schedule. And this could mean saying “no” to other commitments.

Commit to freeing up time to spend with loved ones, and make family memories during the holiday season and throughout the year.

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This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.