Whether we are working outside of the home or inside the home, it is becoming increasingly more difficult in the age of “instant communication” to take some TIME OUT for family. We have the cell phone, Blackberry, Instant Messaging, and the list goes on of ways that we can be contacted instantaneously. And in each of those moments our attention is diverted from whatever we were doing to give our attention to the “new” pressing issue.
Let’s face it; most of us take Family Time for granted. If you are working outside of the home, it is easy to let those precious few evening hours be taken up with phone calls, returning email, putting “final touches” on work related items, etc. If you are working in the home the distractions are similar; phone calls, volunteerism, housework, etc. The point is that working parents (both inside & outside the home) are letting outside influences take precedence over Family Time. Would we let having to stay an additional hour at work in order to send the CEO the sales figures for the 1st quarter have priority over our child’s ballet recital? Would we allow getting the last load of clothes laundered take precedence over singing “The Wheels on the Bus” (for the 100th time) with your toddler? Each of these things is important and depending upon our value system at the time any of these activities may or may not make it to your priority list. If you “schedule” the time, you may be able to get more “Family Time” than you thought.
Here are a few tips to finding more Family Time:
SCHEDULE IT! – Almost everyone has some system of remembering all the things that need to be done at work/home. Whether it is a Day-Timer, a Blackberry, a refrigerator calendar you have a way to keep track of the myriad of activities in your family. Family Time is a priority that you want to find time for so schedule it. In our home, Friday night from 6:30pm until the kids’ bedtime is Family Time. We all have to do an activity together. Each child gets a chance to choose what he/she would like to do for our Family Night and EVERYONE has to do it. This is a great way to get everyone together and you can find times in the midst of your time together to get to know what is happening in your child’s world in a relaxed setting. Some of the favorite activities at our house; the arcade, bowling, Scrabble tournaments, Uno, music concerts, and movies.
COMMIT TO IT! – It is easy to let phone calls, email, net surfing, etc. to take your attention away. Don’t let it! Turn the cell phone off, turn the computer off, turn the Blackberry off and truly give all of your attention to your family for your designated Family Time. Don’t let anything intrude on your time and your kids will see how much Family Time matters to you, how much they matter to you.
ENJOY IT! – If you are not accustomed to scheduling a block of Family Time, the prospect of spending a block of unstructured time could seem a little daunting. In order to ease into a comfortable time with your family, you might first want to schedule “activities” that take you out of the house. With activities, there is an opportunity to bond during the activity, but if there is a lull in communication it will be OK because you can focus on the activity.
Author Resource – Aurelia Williams is a certified life coach and author of Real Life Guidance: Finding More Family Time. Take the 1st step to finding more family time today.