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mother with 2 children looking at art in gallery; image used for HSBC International Services Life Abroad article The importance of family time.

The importance of family time

It can be tough to carve out quality family time when you're caught up in work and the rest of life's responsibilities. That's why it's especially important to make the free moments count. If you're short on ideas of what to do, try a few things from our list.

Add a little culture

A study1 from the University of Warwick in the UK found that children who enjoy cultural activities with their parents are more likely to go on to higher education. Doing this together provides a safe environment for your kids to explore new ideas. Parental engagement has also been shown to benefit kids' reading and math skills and to improve school attendance.

Moving abroad with your family can offer plenty of these shared cultural experiences. Make time to explore the sights together: visit museums, attend some concerts and take in some theatre.

What are the world's best cities for arts and culture? Ogle the art in the Uffizi Museum in Florence, Italy; gaze at Mona Lisa in Le Louvre Museum in Paris; and pay your respects at one of Kyoto's 1,600 temples. London has more than 1,500 galleries and your New York public library card can get you into 47 museums for free.

What's not to love about that?

Work up a sweat

In the US, physical activity guidelines recommend that kids exercise for at least an hour a day. Preschoolers should be getting three hours or more2 of running-around time. There's nothing better than leading by example.

Exercising as a family creates bonding time and healthy habits, as well as encourages teamwork. Doing sports helps your kids develop their motor coordination and burn off stress and excess energy. They'll feel better and sleep better.

Make it a priority to keep fit and healthy when you're settling into a new country and routine.

Come together over family mealtimes

The College of Pediatricians reported that kids who eat with their parents have better language skills because they're engaging in longer conversations. And teens who had more frequent family meals had fewer emotional and behavioural problems. Eating as a family can decrease childhood obesity, improve self-esteem and lead to healthier eating habits. Mealtimes are also a great opportunity to model good table manners and appropriate behaviours.

Don't feel bad if you can't get everyone together for every meal, though. It doesn't always need to be ultra healthy, and eating out counts, too. What's important is the time spent together. It can be ultra messy, but preparing a meal with your kids is part of the fun.

Switch off the TV, ban the phones from the table, and focus on each other.

Have fun being a kid again

Don't get too caught up with planning the perfect day out. Just play. Making up your own games allows you to see how your child imagines, and encourages their creativity. And playing organised sports and games with rules can help develop a child's analytical thinking skills.

Research3 has shown that letting your child direct their playtime with you for just 30 minutes a week can both strengthen your relationship and decrease stress.

Ready to open an overseas account?

Before you move and start exploring your new home, chances are you need to look at the school options, find accommodation and set up your overseas bank account. Arrange a call back and we can answer any of your questions and help you open an overseas bank account.

Do this before you move abroad and you can have your ATM and credit cards ready pre-departure, or sent to your new permanent address. Still have questions?

Learn more about HSBC's international services

1Quality time rather than study time improves teens’ educational aspirations. https://warwick.ac.uk/newsandevents/pressreleases/quality_time_rather/

2Getting kids to move more. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/06/well/move/kids-exercise-teenagers-children-virus.html?auth=login-email&login=email

3The Surprising Benefits of Play for Parents (and Their Children). https://www.thurstontalk.com/2020/02/28/the-surprising-benefits-of-play-for-parents-and-their-children/