For many families, the past year’s health restrictions have meant more time together. For others, however, the changes have cut into family time due to:
While sometimes all you can do is wait it out, in most situations you have more options than you think. Here’s a handful of ideas for when (in unusual or “normal” circumstances) you’re tempted to dismiss ignoring-your-kids guilt with, “I just don’t have time.”
Remember That “Things” Aren’t Everything
Sad but true, parents who go workaholic in the name of “giving their kids everything” tend to find out too late that “everything” didn’t include a solid parent–child relationship. Be willing to live on a tight budget if that’s the price of shorter work hours: the long-term rewards will more than reimburse any grumbling about expensive gadgets “all the other kids” have.
Take a Good Look at “Obligations”
Seriously, do you “have to”:
Trust me that your friends/boss/church committee won’t hate you forever if you say a polite, “Sorry, I have that time already scheduled”—and that world peace isn’t hanging on how regularly you keep up with the news. If anything, reducing your stress by reducing your “have-tos” will make you a greater asset to the larger world as well as your family.
Mix Duty With Pleasure
If legitimate responsibilities are accounted for and you’re still short on time, combine some of the responsibilities with family togetherness: exercise and chores lend themselves particularly well to group participation. Manage new learners with patience and good humor, and the whole family will soon be working and laughing in harmony—and you’ll be finding more shared leisure time in a smoother-running household.
Keep the Patience and Good Humor in All Aspects of Life
When circumstances are stressful (change in work situation, change in living situation, change in health), most people’s initial reaction is, “I must recover what’s lost/establish a new normal fast, or we’re ruined.” Actually, major change rarely ruins anyone financially or emotionally: what can do lasting damage is trying to force recovery on your own premature schedule. Keep familiar routines as intact as possible while working on the next step (if you’re searching for a new job, schedule search hours to correspond with your old work hours); practice relaxation and self-care; count your blessings daily; and above all, don’t let anxiety stress you out to the point that when you’re with your family, you prove miserable company. Let faith and laughter get you all through and draw you all closer together!
Blessings to parents and children of all ages!