Family Time In No Time: Let's Make A P.A.C.T!
You want to make sure that you spend quality time as a family. You just don't know how to fit it in with work, school, cooking, cleaning, errands, and whatever else we do. No pressure...(LOL) but it can be done more organically than you may realize. Read and be encouraged!
The list of things that young families are expected to do with the few years when the children still live at home is endless. Beautifully prepared, nutrition dense meals...outdoor activities...educational experiences... keeping your marriage fresh and romantic...you know what I'm talking about. All the things. So what about the Holy Grail of healthy homes? That mystical, elusive thing we call "quality family time"...?
Many families do this well, and I'm guessing that yours in one of them. But I've known families that reserve quality time for bank busting trips to big box theme parks or other things that require large outlays of money, time, or energy. This is completely unnecessary! Quality family time can be enjoyed in surprisingly simple times and spaces. Even if you are an expert at creating these moments, allow me to offer a new way of thinking about them.
When it comes to quality family time, let's make a P.A.C.T.!
P- Proximity. Quality time can be a simple matter of proximity. Be close together. Think about his a minute...where are you in a small space together? The car? How about picking up an early twentieth century family habit of singing together on a car trip? Put away the tablets, turn off the radio and ask good questions. Questions that let you hear your child's thoughts and opinions. Ask them to explain something that you don't know. I assure you that they know things you don't know. Learn from your children. Reinvent old songs. Take familiar tunes, and make up silly new words. The old standard "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" lends itself to this very nicely. Use car time well. Kitchen time. Walk through the neighborhood time. Use proximity well.
A- Attunement. This is a fancy word for paying close attention to those around you. Emotions, body language, etc. are an important part of the human experience. Notice and respond with compassion to the humans around you. If necessary, adjust the volume in the room. Put on happy music, or spa music to balance the mood. Change the subject of conversation. Save scolding and criticisms for another time, check your countenance and make sure that you are approachable and chill. Quality family time is instigated by one adult who understands the importance of attunement.
C- Conversation. The topics of discussion during quality family time matter. Words matter. There is no way to overstate the importance of the spoken word. Scripture is clear that the "power of life and death is in the tongue" (Proverbs 18:21). Your conversations are instrumental in creating an atmosphere of either joy or turmoil. It really is up to you. Turn around conversations that are headed downhill. Monitor the tone of your voice. Refrain from snapping or throwing zingers or sharp comments. Remember that sarcasm is lost on children. They take in sarcasm as criticism and exclusion. Understand that sarcasm hurts your child's feelings and teaches them to use it in their own conversations. Sarcasm is only funny when everyone is in on the joke. Using sarcasm to distance yourself from your child is hard on your child. They just want to be close to you and feel loved and included your life. Swallow your weariness, set aside your frustration and respond to your child with a patient tone. They are yours nurture in body and spirit.
T-Time. Everyone is given twenty four hours in a day. How you choose to use these with your family is a decision that you can not undo tomorrow. Be aware of the moments of the day. Be mindful of the fact that we have a finite amount of time to live together as a family. Consider what you want your children to remember about their childhood. That mornings were busy and productive as everyone gets ready? That evening meals were times when conversations were cheerful and uplifting and everyone was allowed to speak? That words were kind and true and helpful? Of course this is what you want. You want to have a harbor home for your children.
The bottom line is this: In a Harbor Home, quality family time can happen in so many different spaces and time frames. Use these well. Grab the moments you have and make them beautiful. Waiting for the big budget vacations or the week long break from school/work puts joy on hold. Use today and create a good memory. Utilize the little bits of time in between the big things and make them positive.
Initiate happiness in your family. This is a choice that you make, not just for you, but for your children. You have the power. Use it wisely and well. Create for your children the memories of a happy home. If someone did that for you, you saw how it is done. Pass it down to the next generation. If this was not your childhood experience, learn this new way to give your children the security, safety and stability of life in a Harbor Home.