We all start out with great intentions each week that we will spend more time together as a family, and less time worrying out money, our jobs and how clean our house is, but how many of us can really put our hands on our hearts and honestly say that we spend as much time together as we can?
There is no denying that our lives are getting busier. It is now the norm for both parents to work – often full time – and for our children to be engaged in more and more after school and weekend activities, leaving us precious little time to be together as a family.
Being together is important
Ask yourself the following few questions and this will give you a good idea of how much time you are spending with your family each week (remember to answer them honestly). There are no right and wrong answers. This short questionnaire is designed to give you an insight into how you spend your time, and to discover how you can spend more time together as a family.
- If you work, do you always finish work on time or do you regularly do over time?
- Are you often exhausted at the end of the working week and just want a glass of wine and a hot bath?
- Do you find yourself looking forward to when your children are in bed?
- Do you and your partner have time to talk to each other every day and plan family events?
- Do you find yourself often saying “just a minute I am busy” to your children and spending too much time worrying about the housework?
- When did you last sit and read/play a game/chat with your children?
- Do you know what book your child is reading/what music they are listening to/what movies they have seen in the last month?
- Do you know what your child is doing at school?
- Do you dread the weekends because you know you will have to ‘entertain’ your children?
- Do family times often end in arguments?
If you work and regularly work over time or finish work late to the detriment of your family, then I am afraid it’s time to take stock and renegotiate with your boss. Before you know it your children will be grown up and off your hands, so now is the time to capitalise on this important time as a family.
Work is important, we all have to do it and earn a living, but there are ways to prioritise so that life is kept balanced. If you are always exhausted, irritable and ready for bed, then things definitely have to change. Instead of reaching for a drink and switching on the TV, spend time talking with your family about your day first. It’s really important to touch base every day – no matter how busy you all are.
Younger children can be exhausting!
We have all been there – you work all day and leave the kids with a childminder or in a nursery. You pick them up and they are miserable and grumpy, and you just can’t wait to get them into bed. Again, we need to work but think about the impact this is having on your family life. Talk to your boss about flexible working and try to find a childcare solution that doesn’t result in miserable children at the end of each day. This is potentially the hardest time, it gets easier as your children get older!
Talk? We just argue!
The relationship with your partner is just as important as the one you have with your children. If you are not making time to talk each day then how are you going to sort out problems when they arise? Just try for ten minutes catch up each day.
I will be there in a minute….
We are all guilty of this! How many times have you uttered these words to your children because you are convinced that you MUST unload the dishwasher right now? This is about prioritising and being organised. We all have a lot to do, but will the world really end if you leave some dishes in the sink while you look at your child’s drawing or read a book with them? Ask yourself honestly when you last read a book or played a game with your child. If it was more than a week ago then make some changes quick before they go off you altogether!
Teenagers are a challenge anyway, while it’s not cool to try to be cool, it is cool to know what is going on in their lives and what they enjoy. Take time to talk to them about what’s going on in their lives – you never know you might learn something!
Getting ready for the weekend…
If you are filled with fear and dread at the thought of the weekend because you know it will end in family rows and stress, you are not alone. But, you DO need to do something about it. Parents and children need to spend time together, and it is your responsibility as a parent to make this happen. Instead of seeing family time as a chore, see it as a way of really relaxing with each other and having fun. Take it in turns to do something that you all enjoy and try and plan it all a month ahead so that everyone has something to look forward to.