Image of caucasian happy family in Christmas reindeer antlers celebrating holiday at home with New Year tree

Three Tips to Structure Family Time During the Holidays

During holidays, unstructured time can leave families feeling restless. Strike a balance by scheduling family and free time.

Back in 2020 when the world went on pause, we saw a massive decrease in structure. Schedules were wiped clean of any obligations, games, practices, and extracurriculars in general, leaving wide open spaces on many calendars. For some, it was relaxing at first. It was a reason to step back and take inventory of what was important and what could take a backseat. However, as time went on, it became apparent that too much free time was detrimental for many people, whether socially, mentally, emotionally, or physically.

People with children in school see this phenomenon on a smaller scale as well during winter breaks, spring breaks, and summer breaks. Without structure, kids can get restless and unproductive, which often leads them to act out in ways they wouldn’t have otherwise. On the other hand, too much structure can be detrimental as well. When kids’ schedules are too rigid, there is no room for creativity, hobbies, or self-expression. Finding a balance of structure is one of the best things you can do as a parent.

Structured family time is a great way to grow closer as a family and learn more about one another. If you feel like you need more structure in your home and you’re not sure where to start, use these three tips to start structuring your family time and maximizing it to your advantage.

1. Schedule Family Time and Free Time

Whether you consider yourself a “go with the flow” type of person or a planner, keeping a loose schedule can help you structure your life as well as your kids’ lives. Kids thrive with schedules and structure, so this will benefit them as well. Schedule out your family time and free time so your kids know when it’s happening. This will help in more ways than one—first off, they won’t be surprised when you announce that you’re having a family night right after they make plans with their friends.

Second, if they know when family time is happening, they will be less likely to try getting out of it because they knew in advance that it was on their schedule. In general, they’ll be happier about the family time because they will be expecting it. There are exceptions to this, especially with teenagers, but your efforts will be worthwhile and leave a lasting positive impact.

In addition, scheduling free time will give your kids the opportunity to do the things they find interesting. They can use this time to be with friends, develop a talent, participate in a hobby, or do something creative. Or, if they’ve had a long couple of days, they can take this time to unwind. Having structured free time will give them a sense of freedom while encouraging productivity.

2. Plan Activities Everyone Enjoys

If you have multiple kids, chances are they don’t have all the same hobbies or interests. This is one reason many families shy away from structured family time. No one wants to do the same thing, everyone complains, and it becomes easier to let everyone be on their own. However, if you plan out your family time correctly, differing hobbies and interests can actually be a huge benefit.

Your family time doesn’t always have to surround an activity—it can simply be a meal together around the table, a family game night, or a movie night. If you do want to plan some activities, planning them around your kids’ interests is a fun way to bring everyone together and learn more about one another. If one child is into painting, have a family painting night. If your other child is into baseball, have a family baseball game the next week. Taking turns trying out each others’ hobbies is a fun way to bond and learn new things.

3. Start a Google Calendar

If you don’t have a family Google Calendar, now is the time to start one. Especially with the new year approaching. Each family member can have a designated color, and you can put everyone’s activities, meetings, commitments, and obligations in one place. That way, you can see when everyone is free and physically schedule in your family time and free time. Everyone can see it, it’s easy to use, and no one will question what’s happening and when.

If you have older children, create a Gmail account for them and allow them access to the full calendar as well. This will give them a sense of responsibility, and it will be helpful for them to see the full schedule with their busy lives. If you have small children who don’t know how to read yet, both parents having access to a Google Calendar is a great way to stay on the same page and stay organized.

If you like these tips and want to learn more about structuring your family time, you can listen to the Not By Chance podcast with Tim Thayne. This episode has many more tips on how to make the most out of your family time and become stronger than ever.

In this article

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Dr. Tim Thayne Presents:

How Parents Can Put A Stop To Their Teen's Self Destructive Behaviors WITHOUT Conflict Or Walking On Eggshells

Mike Christian

Back-End Developer & DevOps​

Mike is one of those brilliant, self-taught, back end developers that you always hear about. As a youth he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what . . .” When he isn’t cranking out new code, Mike keeps up on the newest technologies and every Tuesday and Thursday nights he trains SpeedSoft with his team.

Rafael Pampoch

Web Developer

Rafael has his degree in Marketing and Advertising and years of experience with our dev team. As a teen he could trust that “The most important thing in life is love, and the most valuable things are our family and friends.” When he isn’t working on making the website and mobile versions of Trustyy seamless and functional, he unwinds by exploring nature. His favorite activities are climbing mountains, camping, going to the beach, swimming, playing the harmonica and always learning new things.

Afton Wilde


Afton’s experience is in marketing and bookkeeping.  As a teen she could trust that with her parents “Feeding the horses and milking the cow each day before school–not after–was a must.”  When she isn’t busy with keeping Trustyy’s lights on, you’ll usually find her baking up a new treat or working on a sewing project.

Nicoli Cristini

Marketing Assistant

Nicoli has a degree in Multimedia Production.  She has worked with our team of developers for three years.  She learned to trust her own parents when they taught her “Things won’t come easy and that working hard will bring me great blessings!”  When she isn’t putting together beautiful marketing pieces for the Trustyy App she likes to take pictures, play the guitar, piano, and drums, and meet up with her family to laugh over the silly things they did as kids.

Adriano Rodrigues

Mobile Developer

Adriano is certified in Analysis and Systems Development.  In his family he could trust the fact that “One difficult experience teaches me that failure is not the end, but rather an opportunity for growth and learning.”  When he is away from his work in making sure the Trustyy App buttons and bells and whistles are working properly, he likes to go to the gym, to the beach to surf, on walks with his dog, or go out with his girlfriend.

Lucas Baumgart

Product Designer

Lucas’s work experience is in User Experience, Interface Design and Product Management. As a teen he could trust that “In my home honesty was highly valued and lying was not tolerated.”  When he isn’t at work making sure the Trustyy App is easy on the eyes, Lucas likes hiking, gaming, going out for dinner, and spending time with family.

Cadu Olivera

Front End Developer

Cadu has his education in Analysis and System Development.  While growing up he could always trust that “My parents would be there to support from playing soccer at the park to learning to ride a bike.”   When he isn’t making sure things are easily navigated for our Trustyy App users, he likes to play beach soccer and enjoy music of any type, but specifically rock, country, R&B, and pop.

Mike Curi

Back End Developer

Mike is one of those brilliant, self-taught, back-end developers that you always hear about. As a youth he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what.” When he isn’t cranking out new code, Mike keeps up on the newest technologies and every Tuesday and Thursday nights he trains SpeedSoft with his team. 

Roxanne Thayne

Co-Founder/Chief Marketing Officer

Roxanne received her bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education.  She has worked in publishing and marketing for the past 14 years.  In her family Roxanne says she could trust that “Her grammar and posture would be consistently corrected, to help her to become a lady.”  When she isn’t busy writing and beautifying things for the Trustyy App, you can find her reading biographies, practicing yoga, or gathering the family to talk business, celebrate wins or just plain hang out.

Sidney Rodrigues

Co-Founder/Chief Technology Officer

Sidney has a bachelor’s degree in Web Development and has worked in technology for 16 years, building apps for the last 10 years. Growing up he could trust that “It was always expected that I would fix anything related to technology.”  When he isn’t managing the development of the Trustyy App, you will find him spending time with his wife and kids. He loves to make Brazillian BBQ with his family.

Jim Lee

Co-Founder/Chief Product Officer

Jim has a degree in Design and over 25 years of experience creating SaaS products and managing talented product and development teams.  In his years at home as the oldest of five he could trust that “Each child got a weekly ‘night-up’ where we got to stay up late with a parent and do anything we wanted with them.”  When he isn’t looking 10 miles down the road for what will come next on the Trustyy App, you will find Jim canyoneering, doing photography, watercolor painting, or keeping up on the latest gadgets and technologies.

Eric Turner

Co-Founder/Chief Operations Officer

Eric earned his degree in Communications, Public Relations and Advertising, then added on an MBA.  He says he could trust that “His parents were honest people who kept their commitments–especially to their kids.”  When Eric isn’t keeping everyone at Trustyy on task, he is an outdoor enthusiast, year around, rain or shine, cold or hot, with biking in the summer and skiing in the winter.

Tim Thayne

Founder | Chief Executive Officer

Tim earned masters and doctoral degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy, and has 30 years of experience working with families.  While growing up Tim says he could trust that “My mother would love me no matter what, and that my dad would require that I respect my mother.”  When he isn’t busy guiding the vision for the Trustyy App, you can find Tim working around the house and yard, taking care of his sheep, dogs and horses, or enjoying a game of Corn Hole with the family.