Today’s guest post is from Dr. Debbie Cherry. Dr. Cherry is a licensed clinical psychologist, author, and speaker who is a workshop speaker at our 2014 Hearts at Home conferences.
She has authored and co-authored several books including The Strong-willed Wife and Escaping the Parent Trap which are both topics she is speaking on at the North Central Hearts at Home Conference November 7-8. She and her husband, Jim, have 4 children and live near Springfield, Missouri. You can find more information about Dr. Cherry at www.eaglecrestcounseling.com.
Spending time together is a powerful way to show your child love. As a matter of fact most children spell love T-I-M-E. But we live in a very busy world that seems to keep us running 100 mph just to keep up. There are still just 24 hours in a day, and that time is going to be spent doing something. And without intentionally deciding how you are going to spend your time, you may quickly realize you have been so busy going to work, cleaning the house, doing the laundry, mowing the yard, and shopping for food that you have missed the chance for spontaneous interactions with your child that say, “I love you!”
If we aren’t careful, activities we believe we “must” and “should” do eat up all our time, and our children are the ones who pay. So making family time a priority means that you are going to have to learn to stop running at the speed of light or spending all your time doing things that really aren’t as important as that family time you desire.
So, how do you slow down and commit to a less-hectic lifestyle that will allow you and your children more time together? Here are a few suggestions and summer is a great time to put some of these into practice!
- Avoid over scheduling by setting limits to avoid how many activities both you and your children are involved in at any one time. Be as willing to give up some of your hobbies or activities, as you want your children to be.
- Preserve family time; make it intentional. Put it on the calendar – in INK! As your children see you making family time important to you, they’ll see it as important as well.
- Set new and realistic expectations. The house doesn’t have to be spotless; meals don’t have to be gourmet or even homemade to be nutritious. Think about what you want your kids to remember about you once they are grown and out of the house. Do you want them remembering that mom was always cleaning and cooking? Or do you want them remembering all the fun things you did with them?
- Set a routine for daily activities and chores. Making a schedule helps keep everyone on task and household chores will get done more regularly. When we avoid letting things pile up, we realize these activities can actually take less time than we thought. That frees up additional time to spend with each other.
- Turn off the TV. The number of quality family shows available is minimal, at best. So why waste time when you could be enjoying each other’s company? We like to have a regular scheduled “no electricity” night at home where we pretend we have lost electricity for the night and have to do everything by candlelight and without the help of anything electric.
- Be willing to say no to good things to leave time for the best things: quality family time!
- Plan one night a week where each child gets a chance to be King or Queen for the night. Let him/her choose what’s for dinner, who does what chores, and the after-dinner activity.
- Involve kids in chores. If you have to run errands, take on of the kids with you and enjoy some one-on-one time together.
- Use time-savers and short-cuts whenever possible.
- If your children are old enough, consider involving them in a family discussion about where each person feels family time should be spent and their personal priorities in this area. Have them rank the activities from most to least important to them, and discuss ways to fit in the most important things and do away with some of the least important activities. Remember, parents and children don’t think alike so if you want this time to speak love to your children you need to take time to listen to their ideas and needs.
What about you? What strategies are you using to slow down and make family time a priority?