6 Ways to Take Back Family Time
Does driving your kids to various activities count as family time in your household? Mighty Mommy understands. That's why she has 6 great tips to help you take back family time, stay connected, and have some fun in the process!
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During my 6-year struggle with infertility, I had constant daydreams of the perfect family life. On the days when I wasn’t wallowing in pain and self-pity, I visualized making blueberry pancakes from scratch every Saturday morning, planting flower gardens each spring with my kids while our dog frolicked in the backyard, lolling by the seashore with my family on a lazy summer’s day, or unwinding by the fire with my precious ones as we roasted marshmallows and chatted excitedly about what happened that day.
In my picture-perfect (and perfectly clueless) world, that's how I imagined family life would be. Fast-forward 2 decades and 8 kids later, and that scenario seems incredibly naive. I forgot to factor in our over-committed schedules, never mind what it was going to take to keep up with routine things such as cooking, housekeeping, homework, grocery shopping, sick kids, feisty dogs, maintaining personal relationships, laundry—did I mention laundry?
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Personally, I think our work and personal schedules and our kids' after school commitments have gotten completely out of hand. Many of us are having trouble finding the time to schedule our schedules—and this includes weekends. Families are strained and growing apart instead of closer because we spend so much time running in too many directions. By the time we do stop to catch our breath, we’re overtired and cranky, making family fun time nearly impossible.
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I don’t know about you, but I didn’t struggle for 6 years to start a family so I could spend the majority of my time apart from them. That's why today, Mighty Mommy is going to share 6 ways to take back family time in your household, allowing you to slow down and connect with your loved ones on a regular basis:
Tip #1: Pledge to Take Back Family Time
When I make a list or write something down, I tend to take it more seriously. While it may seem hokey to write a pledge committing your family to making regular time for fun and leisure, it can also provide a foundation for your new endeavor. It will make it very clear that spending time as a family is more important than putting in an extra hours at the office or running the kids around to extra activities they really don’t need.
Here’s an example of a Family Pledge. Create something similar and hang it up for all to see in a heavily-trafficked place like the kitchen or family room:
Our Family Pledge is to enjoy family time more and stress less about non-important things. We will make choices that allow us to focus on our health, happiness, and overall family well-being. We are not perfect so it's important to let go of trying to “do it all” and live more in the present. We will make an effort to stop over-scheduling ourselves and get out of the race to nowhere. Family first!
Tip #2: Make Technology a Family Affair
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, American kids spend about 7 hours a day with media—TV, computers, smartphones, iPods, video games—about 10 times more than they do with their parents. Technology is an important part of our kids’ lives as well as our own; it's not going anywhere. So instead of fighting against it, find ways you can use your electronic gadgets to engage one another.
For instance, use video games as a source of togetherness. My son constantly wants me to watch him play a video game or learn about a new app. I used to reject these requests until I actually sat down with him a few months ago and watched him create an amazing make believe world on his Minecraft game. He was excited to teach me some of the strategies he was using to build things, and I have to admit, after watching him for nearly an hour I was hooked! I had my high school kids show me some of their apps and I learned that my daughter actually has an app to help her keep track of her period! Who knew!?
Another way to utilize technology without letting it take over is to adjust your settings. Do you need to be alerted in the middle of a conversation with your child that your boss’ wife has just tweeted about their new timeshare condo in France? No, you don't. Minimize distractions like this by silencing your phone during family time, unsubscribing from unnecessary email lists, and opting out of social media notifications that aren't necessary. Have your kids do the same so that when you’re together during mealtime, you have no interruptions.
My final recommendation is to invest in a new crop of tech tools aimed at bringing families together such as movie night.