In the hectic pace of life, recently it has felt like I am always travelling in an opposite direction to my husband (both figuratively & literally). We seem to be spending time as a family for an average of 15 minutes a day- mostly filled with nagging- before we all separate again to go about our day to day life; school, sport, community bits & pieces, it’s never ending and I’ve found myself tiring of it. Even though I know it will all come to an end soon enough, and that the majority of this disconnect has been caused by a hectic time on the farm it doesn’t make it any easier to stay connected in the here & now. So I’ve put together a ‘go-to’ for others in a similar situation, who may be just as time & energy poor but still desperately need that special family time just like us.
1. Eat dinner (or a meal of some sort) together
My Mum told me this one when I had my first baby, and it is a seriously good piece of advice. We do absolutely everything we can to eat tea as a family and it is a great time for the kids to tell us about their day and for all of us to just interact with each other. Even if it’s too early for the adults to eat, taking the time to sit at the table together is a great practice to get into, and is a really healthy eating habit for the kids.
2. Turn off the technology
No phones, definitely no television, tablets, game or music devices. If you want some quality time together, it will be 100x richer if you put away the technology. I am the worst at this- often I so badly want to preserve a good family memory that I will have a camera or my phone up for half the time taking pictures, instead of just experiencing the special time we are having- it is something I am working on….
3. MAKE the time
So often we are too busy to sit with the kids and play, or go out for a walk as a family, but if we just take 10 minutes out to go for a walk as a family, or whatever you like to do together around the house (weed the garden, even sort and fold washing together) we feel so much more in tune with each other. I make time as a family by taking the kids out to spend time with their Dad at work- particularly at harvest and seeding time when he is in a tractor for days on end.
4. Take advantage of every opportunity
While we were at H’s football game on Sunday we were told about a community day happening at the rec center across the oval. So after the game, instead of heading back to town to hop in our separate cars and do our (many, unending) jobs and errands, we walked over as a family and had a look. The kids flew a giant kite, then made their own (smaller) kites, they had their faces painted, and we checked out the henna, crystals, Ambo, Fire service etc stalls and watched a brief game of wheelchair basketball. It was totally worth the time and energy to spend that time as a family. We laughed, chatted and did something creative- it was awesome. There are plenty of spontaneous opportunities as you go about your daily life, just make the most of the ones that are presented to you!
5. Make plans (and keep them)
This is the opposite to the above idea but often this is the most successful of my strategies for our family to spend some time together in our busy routine. It means we sometimes have to say no to socializing or doing something just for ourselves, but it’s worth it in the end. We try to regularly plan something as a family, in the past it was a drive and a picnic lunch, or a meal in town together, these days having a movie and pizza night at home is good enough for me!
6. Do something creative together
If you have some sticky tape and a few boxes then make some junk art with your kids, or play lego or dolls with them, or even cook something together! I loved being in the kitchen with my family as a child and my kids are the same- we have a family pizza night where we all slice toppings and make a pizza each to share. Anything to get the creative, imaginative or arty side of you (and them) going can be a world of fun! (The general rule is the messier the more fun)
What ever you do as a family doesn’t have to cost anything, you don’t even have to leave the house, just take the time to chat and enjoy each others company. What’s your strategy for reconnecting with your family? How often do you do something together?