For many of us, the daily stresses of work and family life often combine to create a vacuum in which precious time is lost. A lot of us wake up each morning with the belief that much can be accomplished. But by the end of the day, there is a keen realization that another five or six hours is needed to accomplish everything that we desire. There is no doubt that all of us could use more free time, but with so much to do and so few hours in the day, family time is often sacrificed in the wake of more “pressing” issues: problems at work, financial hassles, taking kids to and from soccer practice. Such activities fill our waking hours, leaving us exhausted and, often, too drained to engage with our families in a positive and meaningful manner.
While it is true that quality time is lacking in many families, it is possible to seize the day—and to do it with your family. Finding ways to achieve this is imperative to sustaining yourself, your partner, and your children. In many instances, the specific activities needed to achieve more time with our families are not a matter of sacrificing one activity for another. Rather, improving and increasing time with our families can be achieved through better utilization of our time. There are ways to fit in important family activities that can bring you closer to your family without creating additional challenges or stress.
One of the most helpful ways to bring back quality family time is to involve children in the daily tasks of running the household. Although many parents loathe the idea of giving their children chores, these activities should not be viewed as opportunities to lessen the workloads of adults in the house. Instead, chores are tasks that need to be completed to keep the household running efficiently and, when done with your child, can provide important time for you to reconnect. Parents who spend time teaching their children how to do laundry or get their children to help them make dinner not only build practical living skills, but also share their time with their children and, in the process, learn what is important to them.
If, for instance, you have your child help you make dinner, you should take the time to talk about his or her friends, school, and other matters of prominence in your child’s life. During this time, you might want to consider also sharing something. Let your child know how your day was (as long as it wasn’t traumatic or terrible) and what happened in your world. Sharing this information will bring you closer to your child and provide you both with a foundation for understanding each others’ lives.
While building family time into everyday household activities is one way to connect families, scheduling family time each week is also an important component of taking back family time. Almost everything we do is scheduled. From meetings at work to doctor’s appointments to school events, schedules are an integral part of our lives. Scheduling family time is no more challenging than scheduling a doctor’s appointment and, in some cases, may actually be easier. Following through is the real test. Once the time is scheduled, it must be viewed like all other appointments you make. Consistently keeping your appointments with your family is something that you have to work to achieve. Given the time constraints that many of us face, schedules may lack spontaneity, but they ensure we are able to achieve goals.
Consistency with family time communicates to your children that family is important. By making this commitment to your family, you send an important message that is heard by everyone in the household. Without these messages, children may forget how important this time truly is.
Whether it’s scheduling family time or connecting with children through day-to-day activities like household chores, it is possible to seize each day and take back family time. Get to it!
© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Michael Clatch, PsyD, therapist in Glenview, Illinois
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