5 Ways to Spend Quality Time With Your Kids
Do you lack enough time for the things that really matter, like spending quality time with your kids?
Having too much to do without enough time to prioritize can leave you feeling exhausted, stressed and anxious.
In this article I’ll share five ways to live a better, balanced, more focused life from the book, Living into Focus: Choosing What Matters in an Age of Distractions, by Arthur Boers.
Why Look for Focus?
It may sound simplistic, but the secret to keeping your life balanced and sane is FOCUS!
Our lives–especially our lives with kids–are in constant fast-forward, and it’s not good for us. The problem is people often make choices that are inconsistent with the kind of lives they really want. They work long hours, have long commutes, spend too much time online, don’t get enough sleep, etc.
Does this sound familiar?
According to Boers, you have two choices: You can either rush on with your usual hectic schedule, or you can focus on finding and receiving some of the riches that a typical day has to offer you and your family.
Focus comes from the Latin foco, which means “hearth,” like a woodstove or fireplace. In almost all civilizations around the world, the fireplace has been the focal point of the household. It’s where the family would hang out and chat over a warm, comforting fire.
Even though we don’t rely upon fireplaces and woodstoves any more, we’re still drawn to a focal point that brings the family together (think about the dinner table, especially on holidays like Christmas, Passover or Thanksgiving when extended family gathers together).
The idea behind finding focus is not to spend a ton of money on huge endeavors and initiatives, but rather to reclaim priorities that are currently ignored or threatened.
As parents, we need to ask ourselves, “What holds the potential for bringing our family and friends together more often?” No matter what your answer is, it will require a commitment to focal practices, focal things and focal places.
Here are five ways to find focus for your family and live a better, balanced life:
#1: Find a Focal Point
What is the “center” of your home? Is it the kitchen? The living room? For most Americans, the focal room is the one that has a television in it—usually a large, on-the-wall plasma screen that commands attention.
The problem is, TV “displaces” the values and practices that enrich our quality of life. The decision to read a book, play a board game, go for a walk or sit down to dinner is often replaced by “What are we going to watch tonight?”
Parents can choose to live a better way if they replace the TV room with a place or thing that sparks engagement within the family.
#2: Find a Focal Activity
Focal living is not about dos and don’ts; but rather incorporating priorities into family life. What does this mean?
When you first start to find focal activities, you’ll have to figure out what works for your family.
Some activities will be easier to do as a family (e.g., cooking and sharing meals, hiking or going to church together). Other activities may require a bit of effort. In any case, make sure that whatever activity you choose includes these three characteristics: requires involvement, continuity and ability to pull everyone together.
#3: Make Fundamental Decisions
Fundamental decisions set a priority for some time to come. For example, the decision to have children is fundamental because it changes your priorities for the rest of your life (or at least it should).
But there are also fundamental daily decisions. For example, because you made the fundamental commitment to have children, you now have to make daily decisions to raise and nurture them.
When it comes to family activities, fundamental choices and decisions shouldn’t be taken lightly either because they set your life in a specific direction.
To start, initiate a few good habits with determined commitment.
Do not allow exceptions to happen until habits are firmly established in the family.
Never hesitate to practice the habit you have chosen.
#4: Be Still
Sometimes during moments of stillness or silence, we experience a sudden understanding or clarity of mind about what we need to know. Such moments cannot be forced or manufactured, but are, in fact, gifts.
Unfortunately it is getting harder to experience such moments due to our lack of stillness. We’re always preoccupied, always planning, always doing.
We need to find moments of quiet or stillness when we forget about ourselves and reflect on the things that make life meaningful. It is during those times that we recognize our deepest, most important priorities.
#5: Set A-L-E-R-T-S
Because technology is such a big part of our lives, we need to become more alert when using technology and consider the impact it has on our lives.
Here are six aspects of technology that require vigilance:
- A-ttention—What is the primary and ongoing focus of your awareness? Is it screens and virtual relationships? Or family, neighbors and your surroundings?
- L-imits—Do you have the moral strength to recognize when something has gone overboard and you need to say no? Or does technology in your life make all things permissible?
- E-ngagement—Are you eager to interact and be with the ones you love, or are you so rushed that your harried attention spans cause you to become demanding and curt?
- R-elationships—Do your lives include rich networks of loved ones, supportive friends (not Facebook), caring confidants and casual acquaintances, or is your life characterized by growing isolation and loneliness?
- T-ime—Do you have enough time for work, play, love, laughter and rest (a balanced life) or are you too busy with distracting demands and pressures that lure you away from the highest priorities?
- S-pace—Are you well-rooted in your neighborhood or is much of life lived in an abstract, virtual reality?
Some Final Thoughts…
For many people, life is not as rich or fulfilling as they would like. Even high-paying careers and sophisticated gadgets seem to have a subtle role in their unhappy reality. This growing epidemic tells us that something has gone wrong with our pace of life.
The way to bring lasting and effective change is to make a choice about the way we live life daily (isn’t that what all of life is about?).
It’s not a deep philosophical decision. It’s just many daily choices to do simple things like turn off the iPhone and talk to your co-worker, cook a meal with your kids, walk every day for 25 minutes, or listen to your spouse talk about his or her day. Right now, it may seem that the barriers are too big. But you must not settle. You must choose wisely.
My Kids’ Adventures gives this book a 4-star rating (out of 5).
What do you think? How do you bring focus and balance into your family’s life? Please leave your comments in the box below.
Images from iStockPhoto.
Patricia Redsicker writes research reviews for Social Media Examiner. She helps business owners craft content that sells. Her blog provides healthcare industry content marketing advice. Other posts by Patricia Redsicker »