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How to make more time for family play

Deciding to start a family comes with its fair share of fringe benefits. Access to parent-and-child parking spaces, for example, and a reason to put on particularly extravagant Christmases. And of course, it's always good for an excuse to spend hours with one another, just enjoying one another's company.

Wait, what was that last one? Recent surveys conducted around the modern family indicate that the demands of life are severely restricting the amount we can spend with our mums and dads, sons and daughters. According to research conducted by Virgin Holidays and Universal Orlando Resort, weeknights prove to be the worst for family time, with parents managing to find just 36 minutes on average to enjoy with the kids.

But that shouldn't be an excuse - few things are more important than our nearest and dearest, so why not use playtime as an excuse to reconnect with them? Here are our top tips for doing just that.

Turn your chores into playtime

Is that list of chores standing in the way of time with the kids? With a little effort, you can make sure they want to help you with your neverending list of jobs. Cooking together, for example, is an opportunity for conversation, creativity and family time. Then there are all manner of games that can be worked into the daily routine - give them games to play while you're doing the school run, offer rewards for carrying out simple jobs. With a little imagination, there's no limit to what you can achieve.

Share your hobby

If you have a hobby that you indulge in after work, don't shut your child out. Learning a language? One of the best ways to enforce your learning is to try teaching others - why not your own child? Not only will you both gain a skill but it can be done in a fun and exciting fashion with the help of language-related toys. This is just one possible example - whether you're learning to play the guitar, developing your photography skills or exercising, there are ways to get the kids involved. If you have an exercise regime that you carry out in the back garden, make sure the children can also participate by getting them something that encourages them to get a bit out of breath, such as a trampoline.

And encourage children to share theirs

Kids love to be told they're good at something. No matter what their latest favourite activity is - singing along to Frozen, digging for worms in the garden or a new game that everyone's playing at school - you should take a break from the TV to indulge their passion and see how far they can develop it. Toys can be a great way of achieving this. Perhaps they want to show you how far they can climb up their new climbing frame? Or to have a race on their new scooters? It's up to you whether you let them win or not, of course!

Never miss an opportunity

Whether you're out and about or just staying at home, you should look at every single second as an opportunity to have playtime with your child. Play encourages them to develop their senses and can help you form strong bonds for life. Remember that children grow best in an environment that encourages exploration, discovery and play, so choose toys to that effect.

Above all, never take this precious point in your child's life for granted and try to enjoy it alongside them!

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