I always remember the winter school holidays with great fondness. Cold, short days spent for the main part indoors together. Pj’s until lunch time, toasted sandwiches for lunch, blankets in the lounge room, movies and ABC kids TV in the arvo! Those were such fun and simple times of being together and creating memories. My children – now 28 and 25 can still recall those movies and TV programmes we watched when we reminisce their primary school years.
Having precious family time “quality time” with your kids is about creating memories and ritual that will be always held dearly. These times do not have to be expensive and flashy outings, in fact it is the simple times that are all the more cherished, it seems.
This time is about talking and listening to yours kids, while putting the endless list of “things to do” to the side. Thus giving each other your whole self and attention…what a gift!!
However, be aware of the expectation that you may put around this time. One such expectation is this time will be harmonious and conflict free. And you will have deep and wonderful conversations and sharing with each other….hmmm. No, there will sometimes be disagreement and there will sometimes be grumpy moods! Don’t be discouraged – let it go – there will be another time.
Keep the “family rules” and boundaries alive in this time, children feel safe and secure and happier when these are in place.
Creating this special time as a family is equally important as your children get older. Seek out ideas and activities that you can all enjoy and benefit from together.
Here are a few ideas to maximise this precious family time:
Turn off – phones, facebook, texts, emails etc. for the time you have allocated as family time. It is impossible to be fully available to your family when one eye is on your ‘screen’.
Dinner time – can be a great space for family time. Turn off the TV, set the table, a candle and calming music adds to the space. Then allow everyone time to share their day or maybe have a special topic (something that is happening in the family/news/community) to talk about. You will be quietly surprised by the views your children may hold.
A weekly calendar – on the fridge is a helpful way to highlight some family time amongst everyone’s busy timetable. This way each family member can see what is happening for the week.
Don’t try to be ‘super mum’ – if you have too much going on see what you can either discontinue doing or pass on to someone else to do. Ask for help from family, work colleagues (if it is a work issue) partner or professional help in the house if it is all becoming too much. Remember family comes first.
Exercise as a family – rather than going to the gym which takes you away from the family. Go outside as a family for a walk, run, bike ride or a play in the park. This is cost effective too!!
Take some time to reassess your schedule – are there other projects and activities that take you away from your family? What can be let go for a season? Then make a list (remember don’t be over zealous here, keep it real!) of some things you would like to do as a family and then set a time to do them, choose only two or three from the list, that way it won’t seem so hard to achieve your goals!
Enjoy your family; and give them some treasured memories to hold forever, they are only with you for what seems a blink before they are making a life of their own.
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