There’s never enough time for everything you want to do. But in our crazy-busy culture of crow-barring as much as possible into our schedules, it’s important to find ways to make the most of the time you have with your family.
Sure, it would be nice to be with each of our children anytime we wanted to, never missing a class field trip or soccer game. But with work and other responsibilities, as well as working around multiple children’s schedules, that’s not a reality for most people. Maybe you run a business or have a demanding job that doesn’t allow you to spend as much time with your family as you’d like. Or maybe you do spend a lot of time with your kids, but find yourself feeling like you’re not truly present with them enough.
Whatever your struggle looks like, you can find more peace of mind by focusing on quality over quantity. If you can’t have as much time with your family as you would like to, focus on having the best time with them. Here are five ways to do that:
1) Put your phone on airplane mode. You might need your phone to take pictures of your kids doing awesome things, but if your phone is connected to the outside world, then you’re connected too. We are creatures of habit. Without even meaning to, we can be distracted with email, texts, social media, and the Internet within minutes. Let’s stop making our loved ones compete with a device for our attention. It’s a poor reflection of our priorities, and it’s stealing time we can’t get back. Instantly improve your family time by simply turning those notifications off. (Did you know that they are coming out with a dumb phone that only makes calls to help people unplug more? How about you just unplug more? There. I saved you the cost of a new dumb phone. And, you’re welcome.)
2) Look your kids in the eyes. When they tell you a story or ask you questions or show you a trick, look them in the eyes. We all think multitasking is the solution to maximizing our time, but all it does is minimize our connections with each other. Don’t cook, work or read while you’re trying to have quality time with your kids. Making the most of your time happens when you’re fully present, and that includes looking them in the eyes.
3) Ask questions. Your kids crave your attention, and one of the best ways to give them your attention is by asking questions. Show you’re interested in their thoughts, feelings and ideas by asking lots of questions and then listening to their answers. You might just be amazed at what’s going on in those little heads of theirs—some things you may have never known had you not just simply asked.
4) Do something new. It’s easy to go through the same routine, eat at the same restaurants, and do the same activities week in and week out. We are all naturally creatures of habit, and while this is efficient, it also can get boring. Inject fun and energy into your family time by doing something completely new that you all have never done before together. Half of the fun of doing it is in the adventure of the unknown.
5) Play. When you take time to play, you deepen your connection with your children.. Playfulness creates laughter in your relationships, lightness to your love, and memories you’ll never forget. You may not be able to work less, buy time, or even find more time in the season of life that you’re in, but quality is more important than quantity anyway. I would rather have an amazing two hours with my family than an entire day with no one truly present or enjoying each other.
If you turn your phone off and look your kids in the eyes, if you ask them questions and listen to their answers, if you try something new and take time to play, if you focus on quality time over quantity of time, I think you’ll find that you’re truly having the best time.
QUESTION: What strategies do you use to increase the quality of your interaction with your family?
CHALLENGE: Set a personal goal to make one of the suggestions in this article a daily habit.
Edited by Sarah Monson.
Image from Shutterstock; graphics added by Anna Jenkins.