In our previous article, we discussed how today's families are overscheduled. Our modern world is thriving on immediate results, instant delivery, and texting as a means of communication. There are several things a family can do to lessen stress by restoring balance. The primary goal should be to ensure parents spend enough quality time with your children.
But for couples, families, and children to thrive and learn to develop relationship skills, doing less (activities) is more. Also, quiet moments allow for creativity and imagination. Children should be provided lots of opportunity for quiet exploration, introspection, and curiousity.
Quality vs. Quantity
- Make a list of the activities each family member is involved in. Think about each one and its value. Eliminate those that are not worth the time and added stress.
- For super-busy families or single parents, have each child participate in only one extra-curricular activity.
- When you suggest activities to your kids, limit the number of choices.
- Sign up for activities that require short-term commitments rather than many months or a year at a time.
Make it a Family Event
- Look for family activities that you can all do together, such as going to church or synagogue, going on a weekend trip, taking the train into the city for the day, or volunteering together at a charitable event.
Connect with Your Children Every Day (and this goes for your spouse or partner)
- Make mealtimes such as breakfast and dinner relaxed and enjoyable and a way to connect with your children every day.
- Take the time to talk to your children every day about how their day went. Ask questions and listen carefully.
- Spend time with your children every day doing something fun, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
- Have a family activity every week, such as a Sunday barbecue or family movie night.
- If you travel for business, be sure your kids know that you are still available to them when you are away. Remind them how to reach you in between nightly phone calls.
Allow for Creativity and Contemplation
- Leave lots of time unscheduled so kids can play and interact with other kids and with you.
- Show your children how to relax by regularly engaging in relaxing activities yourself. Take the time to sit quietly and read, work in your garden, or write letters.
Allow for Downtime and Relaxation
- Avoid the temptation to overschedule the summer months. Children and teens live a fairly regimented life during the school year, and it is a good idea to let them relax during the summer.
We thrive on balance - just enough "eustress" to allow for growth and challenges, but enough "rest" periods so we can function at our peak performance. One of the greatest gifts you can give to your children is the gift of time. They only have one childhood. Why not make it a memorable one? Teach your children healthy habits now, enjoy each moment, and not live life in fast forward.