We are soooo busy, too busy. Somehow culture has convinced us that we have to meet high expectations of America’s societal norms with extracurricular activities, busy-bodies and financial fortes. But the burdens wear on us; as people, as parents and as families. Nonetheless, I am going to say we can fight back and use time in ways that truly matters. Thus, here are five ways to improve the valuable time we are allotted with those of whom we care for:
1. As a blogger I probably shouldn’t say this, but I think it is needed: click the big x on the right hand corner of this screen….Time problem fixed….The end!!
Okay, but really, sometimes we spend so much time searching for an answer, on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Faceapp, cell phones, etc., we ignore the truly valuable time to apply the answers without digital technology. Research is finally coming out about the true, negative, effects blue screen, social media and modern technologies can have on mental wellness and family interactions (or lack-thereof). So, as tough as it is, limit ALL technology time, even for us as parents and adults. Besides, do we not role model this addiction, err, I mean behavior, to our children?
2. Assign and complete chore times together
It’s got to happen sometime: the dishes, the laundry, the bathroom, the boy’s room (okay-that one may depend on the day if we do it together or not ;-).) As a prime stressor for some and an inconvenience for others, why not team-it-up?
-Make a fun, motivated plan of completion and roles for it ahead of time.
-Share responsibilities doing what you enjoy the most (or maybe at least hate the least).
-Let your child assign the roles and take the lead ( people like me can now deep breathe to prevent hyperventilating ;-))
And how about motivating the completion part?”
-set a race on completing it efficiently
– sing together as you do it
-dance as you do the chore
-have the one who gets the chore done first choose dinner
-track chores on a chart (even for you, parent) and give a prize weekly—like getting first choice for the next week
-watch your favorite show together during or after
-boys verses girls or youngest verses oldest
-and the list goes on and on and on.
The really important thing is getting the work done with a reasonably good motivation—together.
3. Have a free activity list and let one person choose a family activity from it each week
My parents did this when I was little. I must say, it drove me crazy when it wasn’t MY week, but it did SO much that I wasn’t aware of at the time. I learned patience, tried new things that others liked (gasp!) and learned to value time together rather than the specific activity—but sometimes both.
And, it wasn’t debatable so that was easier to manage. Friday evenings that was what we did, no questions asked. This gives options for (and role-models) doing things at low or no cost and teaches your children that time with them is also a priority on your schedule. As a parent, it can also relieve some of the pressure to “find time” with them during a busy work week when by having it designated ahead of time.
4.Communicate with a +/- plan
Life is rough, especially when you put people into it. But, I guess that is a necessity isn’t it? Thus, communication is by far the most essential tool used between people—verbal and nonverbal. Though we could go into this topic for hours, there are a few top tools of this for family.
Use sandwich communication even with those you love. This means start with a positive, then give constructive criticism, then end with a positive. (I’m feeling better already!)
Remember, every negative statement needs AT LEAST three-five positives to counteract it and influence the negative concept of the receiver. Has the person you are talking to experienced any type of trauma? Then you are looking at 10+ positives for each negative. Thus, be careful with your tongue-it can get you choked up quickly.
Be aware of listening ears. Parents, when you talk to each other, yourself, family, friends, those children hear, interpret and then apply those words and attitudes to their lives. Want respect in your home? Speak of and with respect. Want self-confidence in your children? Role model that behavior through your words and attitude, even about yourself. Verbally communicate your expectations clearly, often and repetitively (grr-right?) to your family! But don’t forget the power and influence within your actions!
5. Set an attainable family goal and track progress—with rewards!
Family memories are similar to what teen’s typically value the most: things they worked for/accomplished themselves and places they go. So, set a goal together that you all enjoy. Maybe even vote on it together and set a goal date/time. Maybe you all are going to take a trip, maybe you are going to fill a jar with money for a family night out to a concert, maybe you have plans to see the movie coming out at Christmas you all love, maybe you get to add a new swing set or a pool to the back yard, maybe you are going to run a 5k together with a family shirt….whatever it is, it means working together towards a goal that you all get to celebrate as a fun, family, accomplishment.
Talk about something that teaches investing time, working hard and making memories!!!
Just the idea of what can come from these investments in my family excites me and intimidates me! Is this not when the struggle often starts, when we try to move from an idea into action? If that is true for you, but you love these ideas, then start here:
-write your first goal and step for it down
-share them with adult(s) in your home
-make a 2-3 step short-term plan to get started
-share your success and challenges with others
You–parents, caregivers, loved ones–have fun, celebrate, & enjoy a family-building process.
You are amazing!