The pace of life seems to quicken every year. More and more time is spent rushing from job to after school activities or evening meetings. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and to lose a sense of family and relaxation in our homes. Here are a few ideas to help strengthen your family and to keep some of life’s pressures and stresses out of the home.
~ Be involved but learn how to say No, once in a while. You want to be an involved informed parent but you need to keep your schedule sane. So don’t volunteer for everything and don’t sign your kids up for every after school sport or activity. Set limits on these activities, carpool whenever possible, and limit the activities you volunteer for and your children participate in to two for each half of the school year.
~ Week-long family vacations are great but sometimes you need a family break more often. Plan mini-retreats that give you a break from your routine and allow downtime where you can just hang out. See if a local hotel with a swimming pool has off-season rates. Then get together with one or two other families whose company you enjoy and book a night in the hotel. Bring swimsuits for the kids and a good book for yourself. You can also turn off the TV, telephone, computer, and CD player for the night, cook an easy meal or order take out and tell stories or play cards or a board game. Teenagers may think it’s hokey at first but they really do appreciate the change of pace and the time with their family.
~ Eat dinner at the table, not in front of the TV, or standing in the kitchen grabbing a quick bite just before rushing out to the next activity. Consciously eating your meals not only improves digestion but also allows you thirty minutes to slow down and reconnect; sharing things that happened during the day. Make it mandatory and after a few weeks, you will see how everyone really looks forward to this short piece of family time each night.
~ Develop family traditions with your immediate and extended family members. Come up with a special night once or twice a year that isn’t tied to a holiday. Have everyone who comes make something to eat, even the littlest ones. Share what you have been doing since the last get together and come up with some fun game everyone can get involved in. Horseshoes, softball, badminton, the game isn’t important it’s the time you spend together just goofing around without judgment and the pressures of the regular schedule of life.
~ Keep expectations of achievement in school at a reasonable level; encourage your children to strive for things and work at a level that always gives them a bit of a challenge, but don’t push them into situations that are too different or may regularly affect their self-esteem.