10TV's Tracy Townsend on family fun close to home

The next time you're stumped and trying to come up with something fun for the entire family, think about your first love. Yes, recall that moment when you fell in love with your spouse.

"You were pretty happy just hanging out. You didn't have dime and you didn't need a dime."

This surprising but sage advice comes from Dr. Daniel Coury, chief of the section of Developmental Behavioral Pediatrics at Nationwide Children's Hospital. He added: "Quality time is time spent with each other - interested and involved in each other's lives."

It makes sense when you think about it, because our children are always watching and listening to us. That's a fact I can never be reminded of enough, especially when I'm driving or combing the aisles of a packed grocery store. It's all
about modeling behavior for our children.

When you consider this in the context of creating quality family time, it eases some of the pressure to be Super Mom or Dad. There may not be a need for major expenses and travel to create family moments.

My "research" on the topic wouldn't be complete without consulting another resource - my mommy circle of friends. They are a diverse, intelligent and savvy group of women who inspire and encourage me on this journey of motherhood.

Their suggestions for family fun included fall traditions like visits to the pumpkin patch, bobbing for apples and hayrides. One suggestion that reminded me of my own childhood was roller skating. It reminded me of the major cool points I scored when my son Ian and I did it last year. (Note: I appreciated the cool points but not the morning-after aches.)

Experts, including Dr. Coury, say it really is about the moments we create with our kids.

"Too many parents don't appreciate how valuable and important their time and attention is to their child," he told me.

This, the doctor explained, can indeed include doing things around the house together. Even in the hustle and bustle of the school year and extracurricular activities, make time for family dinner a couple of nights a week. You can even make mundane chores, like laundry, magical. Ask your child to help you fold the towels.

"The first time we're teaching, then during the activity we're talking about things," Coury explained. Quality time and help with a chore - who knew?

So, as you're considering all there is to do in Central Ohio this season, don't forget that fun can be close to home. The benefits will be close to your heart as you reinforce your values to your children.

Go ahead and unplug from your PDA, laptop and, yes, even turn off the television. Enjoy your children and watch them enjoy you. Don't worry about the TV thing, I won't take offense. We'll be doing the same in my house - although if you turn it back on around news time, that's OK, too!

Tracy Townsend is a news reporter and anchor with 10TV News HD.