Creating a work/life balance is tough. Busy days and committed work schedules mean it can be difficult to build in those special family moments which mean so much. Yet we are all acutely aware that those times with our young children and even teenagers are fleeting periods: before long the children are grown up and the opportunity has gone.
How do you build in time to make every day a family day, then?
Make time for family dinners
The family that eats together stays together, or something along those lines! Although this may be somewhat of a tired cliché, there is no doubting the sentiment behind the expression is true. Eating together is an activity that has existed since the dawn of mankind, so it is rather sad that as a modern society, we don’t factor is this time as being as precious as it really should be.
“Many cultures place added emphasis on mealtimes, and wouldn’t dream of eating separately or sacrificing this vital constituent component of every day because they are ‘too busy’. Certainly, in the English-speaking countries, the situation is compounded by the fact that we usually eat dinner so early – 6p.m. isn’t unusual. In Spain, for example, dinner time isn’t until 10p.m. Although this may seem rather extreme for many of us, delaying mealtimes until everyone is home from work and after school activities so a meal can be enjoyed together just makes sense,” says Diana Ramirez, a lifestyle blogger at BritStudent and WritemyX.
If not, breakfast
And why not successfully bookend your day with a family breakfast too? This is also tough to achieve with family members having different timetables, not to mention some family members struggling to leave the bed in the morning (for those of you who have teenagers, you know the drill!), but like everything else, it means developing good habits. Even 15 minutes together sitting around the breakfast table, talking about who is doing what for the day is an essential family moment that everyone benefits from. Live your life as a group, not a bunch of individuals co-habiting under one roof.
Have theme nights
As an added twist on the family dinners, why not have theme nights where you have a certain cuisine: maybe a Mexican night, or Italian night, for example. It doesn’t really matter what it is, and the food can just be the start of it, you can also have movie nights, or karaoke nights, or nights where you all play computer games or nights where you all go to a game together. Playing board games as a group is another wonderful way of sharing family time. The point is, you are spending these invaluable moments together and developing a type of family ritual that becomes meaningful for everyone. It becomes a habit, and forms a strong bond between you that cannot be easily broken by the dealings of day-to-day life.
Have a family WhatsApp group
Okay, so phone time is bad and you try to discourage it as much as possible, especially at the dinner table and when you are sharing family time: that makes perfect sense. But why not embrace the technology too by having a family WhatsApp group, or Snapchat group, so you can all communicate together throughout your day and share what’s going on?
“When it comes to families, it really all boils down to effective communication, as do all human relationships. Digital messaging may not be your preferred means of communicating with your family, but we have to embrace the modern age and also recognize what is practical. If every family member is in a different location for the majority of their day, at least with messaging services there is a means by which you can all share and communicate the various incidents of your day. In that way, the pressure is off to share everything in the evening too,” recommends Susie Travis, a writer at Australia2write and NextCoursework.
You cannot dedicate all the hours of the day to your family, as much as you would love to. Instead, grab those precious moments that you do have with both hands, and create a bond that lasts a lifetime. And communicate. That is key.