Ways to Protect Family Time and Why It's So Important
Family, according to one definition in the dictionary, means a person or people related to one and so to be treated with a special loyalty or intimacy.
Family can love you and hurt you all in the same sentence. Family can make you crazy (or make you feel like you’re going crazy). Family can also have your back. That special loyalty really does exist in families who put each other first.
When I think about family, the first people that come to my mind are my husband and boys. They are everything to me. We share interests, a fierce love for each other, that special loyalty or intimacy that you don’t have with just anyone.
I’ve thought a lot about how to write this post. The words for this one haven’t come easy because the last thing I want is for it to come across as judgmental. Instead what I really want is for it to inspire change. The dynamics of a family are worth protecting, and that is why I write this post.
Why Family Time is So Important
Family time is precious. Whether it’s sitting down to eat a meal together, working an afternoon away out in the yard, or simply relaxing with a movie, family time is so important.
So often, we get caught up in a myriad of outside events that take away from that family first mentality. We schedule our kids and sometimes even ourselves for all sorts of activities and events. It’s easy to schedule our lives so thin that we don’t have enough time for each other, and the family unit suffers. As a result, kids act out, and parents are exhausted.
More and more kids and teens are dealing with the psychological effects of stress, worry, and anxiety. They’re faced with hurdles and stressors every single day, like the pressure to do well academically, work commitments, peer pressure, the effects of social media, and more.
Life isn’t the same as it once was; it’s definitely been complicated by the addition of social media where it’s even easier to compare one’s life with others, an especially problematic thing for those of a more competitive nature. We’ve become even more of a society with a sort of “Keeping up with the Jones” mentality.
We say we’ll make a change and try not to be so busy; maybe we even set a New Year’s resolution to spend more time with the family. But before we know it, a month goes by, then a year, then another and another and another… And before we know it, that baby’s a full-fledged teenager.
These are just a few of the reasons it’s crucial that we invest in our families and take every measure to protect the time we have together no matter the cost.
Ways to Protect Family Time
But how does one go about protecting and prioritizing time with one’s family? Here are a few ways…
When it comes to scheduled kids’ activities, limit them to one per child per season. We made the decision a long time ago, that we were going to limit our boys to one activity each. Our oldest has taken Tae Kwon Do, been involved in Cub Scouts, and is currently taking guitar lessons and has been for several years. Limiting them doesn’t mean they can’t try more than one thing; it just means they try one thing at a time and hopefully, they’ll find that one thing they love to do and stick with it long enough to really learn and grow in that specific skill.
When it comes to scheduled adult activities or volunteer opportunities, set limits. Find something fun to do that’s just for you; a little me time never hurt anyone. In regards to volunteering, we shouldn’t feel like we have to volunteer our lives away, especially while our kids are young. They’re only young once, and they really should be our first priority. If you want to volunteer, stick with an area or an issue you’re passionate about, giving yourself the opportunity to give it your full attention. Not only will you have more time with your family, you’ll likely be able to make even more of a difference because you’re not spread so thin.
Make family meals a priority. Gather ‘round the table, talk about your day, and give each other your full attention. Some nights enjoy dinner and a movie together. Even if it’s only 2-3 nights a week, make that time together a priority, enough so that nothing is scheduled during those times.
Purposefully make time for downtime. Make time for fun together!
Not every weekend has to be planned out to the hilt. Leave a little room for downtime. They say a family that works together stays together. Well, a family that relaxes and plays together also stays together.
Work together. Plan projects together and work on them. Maybe it’s a garden, or maybe the kids want to build a tree house. Maybe the yard needs a ton of work. Set goals and work together on both smaller and larger projects.
Post a family calendar. While online calendars and apps are all the rage and really do work well for most families, there’s nothing like a big family calendar hung in a central location, like the kitchen. It’s an easy way for everyone to visualize what’s going on at any given time.
Love each other. Through good times and bad, always come together. Home is a safe place; family is a haven. Be protective of the time you have together; be protective of each other.
Family is who will be by our side to the end. It’s easy to take each other for granted, which is why it’s so important to guard the time we have together. It’s in those times we have together that love grows, friendships are forged, and a family is bound together.