If your family is anything like mine both parents are working, one or both of them may be away from home working for periods of time, and when you're not working you are shopping, cooking, cleaning.
Everyone is always on the go and you see each other in the morning before the day's activities begin and at night when everyone comes home and then it's time for bed.
It is also tempting to fall into the trap that when you do spend time together that you have to go to some great expense to make everybody happy.
Expensive holidays, visits to theme parks, big shopping trips come to mind
It's also so easy to give your kids a bit of extra money and they are hang out with their mates
But much of the time (until they get to surly teenagers!) what they really want is to spend time with you - and the good news is that you don't need to spend a lot of money to keep your kids occupied and spend time with you - often it is simply a case of involving them in what you do.
Here are 10 suggestions to give your kids your time and not necessarily your money
Set Aside Family Time
Set aside one night a week for the family to be together, alone.
This doesn't mean the kids can invite friends over on that night.
Take the phone off the hook or any activity or conversation will be constantly interrupted.
If you've not done this all along and your kids are older, it will be difficult at first but soon everyone will look forward to it.
What you do is not that important.
But, it's important that you're together.
Talk to your children, asked them questions, be interested in their world and get involved if needed. Listen to how they spent their day and the problems and successes they had.
Play Cards or Board Games
You probably have a pack of cards on a shelf somewhere and i can tell you now that playing cards is one of the cheapest and easiest things you can do to keep your kids occupied for hours
As are board games such as Monopoly or Scrabble.
If you're watching your budget, most board games can be found inexpensively at discount stores and yard sales (just make sure all the pieces are included).
Believe me, playing cards or board games is one of the best, cheapest and easiest things you can do to entertain your kids ...
Work Together on Crafts or Cooking
Building something together is a great way to discover each other's talents and converse at the same time.
You probably remember when your dad helped you build a model airplane or go-cart.
Perhaps it was memorable times in the kitchen baking a cake or preparing dinner together.
Always compliment your children and emphasize the positive not the negative.
Let them know you're there for them anytime, anywhere.
Hugs are always nice to enforce the positive and so are notes left unexpectedly on the refrigerator or lunch box.
All together, time doesn't have to be spent at home but try to plan outside activities that allow interaction.
A camping trip or fishing expedition would be fun and inexpensive.
You could even camp out in the backyard with a cheap tent and groundsheet
Pick a Sport You Can Do Together
Why not go running, or take up tennis, or badminton, or cycling or golf?
Find a sport you can do together and "run with it"
Attend Your Kid's Events
This is a big one. This doesn't cost anything other than your time and perhaps a negotiation or two with your boss.
Your kids probably are involved in many school sports, plays and festivals they would love you to attend.
Giving children your time and love is not expensive and one of the most worthwhile investments you'll ever make and they will always remember that you were there on their big days
You don't have to spend a fortune on fancy restaurants but it is nice to go out every once in a while so
- Find out when your local pub or restaurant has an offer night (eg 2 meals for 1) and go then
- Look for vouchers and coupons for pubs or restaurants locally
- Stick to one or two courses (eg main and pudding if you can stretch to it)
- Just have one round of drinks (drinks can be the biggest expense when eating out) and maybe all stick to soft drinks (including parents) - ask for a jug of water after the first round
- Eat out as a regular thing maybe once a month
Watch a Movie at Home
Download or hire a movie once a month which the whole family will enjoy - a rom-com maybe, or a family oriented film (even if it's not your favourite genre).
A movie at home is much cheaper than going to the movies, won't break the bank in costs of popcorn and soft drinks, and will be really valuable time spent together
Go For a Walk
Walking is one of the best forms of exercise and the best part about it is that you really don't need to spend any money (aside from a pair of sturdy shoes or trainers).
If you have a dog they are bound to need exercising so treat dog walking as a family event
If you haven't got a dog then once a week see if you can spend a little time going for a family walk somewhere local (maybe a local park) and maybe take a picnic with you and make it a really special day out
Of all the sports and activities which you can pay for swimming is probably the cheapest and easiest to take the whole family to (at least in my area), so why not take the family swimming regularly and have fun without spending too much
Family time is soooo valuable, and the good news is that you don't need to spend a fortune to spend time with your family
Just get creative, adopt one or two of our ideas. The key thing is to make the effort