Today an average person spends more dedicated time with technological devices than with people. We do not even realize nowadays how for hours we are occupied with televisions, laptops, smartphones, and game consoles that we hardly spend time with our families. It’s time we woke up to reality: family members need to communicate more with each other.

Weekdays are a whirl of chores, activities, classes, errands, and deadlines; the morning’s whiz-by and the evenings provide a fleeting respite from the day’s drudgery. The family hopes for a “slower” weekend, one that’ll allow them to spend more time together. But with the presence of 24-hour Internet, weekend TV programs, and the washer waiting to be loaded with a pile of laundry, the weekend is gone before anyone can even say ‘Subhan Allah.’

However, there are creative ways of cashing in on must-do activities that can make family members enjoy each other’s company more.

Everyday Islamic gathering
And warn your nearest family members.” (Qur’an, 26:214)

There’s nothing like Allah’s speech, the Qur’an, to bond its adherents together by true love, one that is for the sake of Allah. An hour before dinner or after Fajr, the family can sit around the dining table to read the Qur’an aloud to each other. This could be followed by a reading from Hadith books like Riyad-us-Saaliheen or stories from the Seerah.

Going to mosque
The mosque should be like a second home to a Muslim family. Everyone should try to attend the weekly Jumuah congregation together. If that’s not possible, try to go to mosques for lectures, as they are usually available to both men and women. Going with the family will give a sense of togetherness, Insha, Allah boosts everyone’s faith at the same time and keep up with the obligation to learn Islam.

Supermarket trip
Ummi needs to pop in at the supermarket for some groceries. Well, why not have others go with her, particularly if a baby or toddler needs to be toted? As she dictates the items, an older child can make a list. At the market, the children can fetch items from the shelves and put them in the cart. By pitching in with errands this way, the family can work as a team to achieve a common objective.

Help at home
Helping with chores at home can provide moral support and a chance to talk, saving time in the process. Without classifying chores on the basis of gender, unless that is dictated by Islam, Mum, and Dad can be helped by their children in making tea, folding the laundry, vacuuming the carpets, or washing the car. This way, no one person will be burdened, and mutual love will enhance.

Keep media in check
Watching TV, gossiping over the phone, reading fantastical fiction, playing computer games, idle Internet browsing, and other time-wasting pastimes are demeaned in Islam. They prove detrimental for families in particular because they encourage people to isolate themselves for hours in a corner of the house.

Several parents complain of their children staying cooped up in their bedrooms, listening to jarring music, surfing the Internet, playing the guitar, or reading misguiding teen magazines. How can Muslim parents blame their children for this, when they themselves bring the means for such pastimes into their homes? Isn’t it their responsibility to restrict what Islam forbids and to diligently reinforce rules and boundaries concerning the use of media accordingly?

Outdoor sports
The wise and Allah-fearing Muslim parents not only check if any activity in their homes is Haraam, but also creatively think of healthy alternatives for their children in their very early stages of childhood. Encourage outdoor sports. Make regular visits to parks and playgrounds.

Later on, when they’re older, hiking on trails, bicycling, roller-skating, horse-riding, cricket, football, archery, swimming and so many more can be combined with open-air barbeque and picnics. Board games that enhance knowledge and vocabulary are also ideal indoor activities when the summer’s heat or the winter’s cold makes it difficult to venture out.

Eating out
Home-made food is the best and most nutritious option for everyday diet. However, going out sometimes to dine at restaurants is something the whole family can enjoy, as it provides a new stimulus to the taste buds. As long as it is done occasionally – staying within the budget and adhering to a balanced diet – eating out is another way of bonding with family while staying healthy.

Using the creative juices of our think tanks, we can indeed conjure a lot more fun-filled ways of spending quality time with family and relatives, especially in an era when family life itself is at risk of being taken over by electronic and digital alternatives.