If you are a follower of this site, chances are that you are trying to do your very best job as a mother. Much of the advice at Power of Moms is aimed at being gentle with yourself as you strive for your lofty goals, but I must admit that I struggle with that part. I often find that my ambition to be ‘amazing’ leads me into a loop of reaching too hard and too high, followed by a crash and burn. I know lots of moms in this cycle.
One of the most important goals that I have is to increase quality time with my kids. This has led me to many unwieldy attempts to demonstrate my passion for enjoying my children and subsequently blowing all of my fuses. Frustrated, I recently turned to my husband for some help.
Together, we developed a daily “Family Time” plan. We honestly thought we’d invented it, but Family Time turns out to be very popular already. So many of us are yearning for the same connections and moments of calm that, perhaps under a different name, nearly every family has a form of Family Time, which is simply dedicated time to be together.
At first, one mistake I made was in feeling that there had to be a “concept” for Family Time. I am a big idea person, so I immediately started thinking big: “Let’s read a classic novel together, a chapter at a time.” “Let’s start an epic Monopoly game that we play to the end over the course of several weeks.” “Let’s learn a language together.” And then I heard myself. And I stopped saying “Let’s” anything, for several reasons:
1. If it was going to take a lot of planning and organization, I wasn’t going to stick with it. I already had 1.6 billion of those items to worry about, and Family Time was supposed to be different.
2. Family Time was in danger of feeling more like a “have to” than a “want to” with such a tight agenda.
3. Like so many of my grand plans, this was in danger of becoming a one-woman show with a bunch of unwilling participants dragging in my wake.
4. If this was going to require massive effort, it could take forever to get off the ground.
So, the first night of Family Time involved something very simple: showing up.
All six of us met in the living room and . . . that’s it. We hung out. I brushed some hair as we talked and did lots of hugging and snuggling. Then we took the kids up to bed, and a glorious satisfaction stayed with all of us.
The next night, we decided to bring up our cool building straws and just mess around with those. That was fun.
Another night, we watched my talented husband draw things, and everyone else joined in.
Some nights we all read our own books, and that is it.
I am not exaggerating when I say that we cannot do without this time now. It is sacred and precious, and requires nothing but showing up. I had no idea anything about parenting could be this easy.
We have this time together every single night, right before bed. It is sometimes, by necessity, extremely short, but it feels critical to each of us, who range in age from 4 to 48. If a child has to go the bathroom, she is distraught that she might miss some of Family Time – during which we may all just be sitting around and simply talking.
Not only have we discovered as a family the miraculous power of pausing together for those minutes, but I myself have learned that this concept applies in many other cases and makes a huge difference. I have found my way to better connections and calm just by ‘showing up’ in all kinds of circumstances: in the middle of a show the girls are watching, in their bedroom as they are chatting before bed, on a lawn chair while they play in the yard with their friends, and in the middle of playgrounds. Sometimes I say things, join in, or run around with the children. Sometimes I just watch and listen. It’s all showing up. And it’s all connection. And it turns out that I didn’t have to try so hard.
QUESTION: What is something you are over-planning that you can let go of a little and allow some family magic to happen?
CHALLENGE: Make time each day to “just show up” in the middle of whatever your kids are doing and roll with it. Does the concept of a Family Time seem like a fit for your family’s needs? Choose a time and try “just showing up.”
Edited by Dawn Wessman and Rachel Nielson.
Featured image from Shutterstock/Graphics by Julie Finlayson.
Other images provided by Missy Cochran.
Originally posted June 6, 2014.