“Relationships are more important than life, but it is important for those relationships to have life in them,"
Positive relationships, especially with your family, play a large role in helping to lead a happy, healthy life. Family is precious, and time spent with them is valuable. Everyone knows this, but sometimes it’s easy to become absorbed by your job and daily activities; and those closest to you can fall by the wayside. It’s not that you don’t love them or care for them, but rather that your focus is elsewhere. Even though it is unintentional, you may not realize the impact this has on your home environment and family dynamics.
You may come home from work drained from the long, strenuous day and feel that you don’t have anything left to give to others. It can be tempting to just lie down on the couch rather than play with your children or talk to your spouse. While you absolutely deserve a nap and should take one, make sure it doesn’t interfere with your family time. It is a balancing act that involves allotting quality time to your family AND designating specific time to you each day.
Connect with your children on a daily basis: enjoy a meal together, participate in an interactive activity, or support them from the sidelines at their school game. Even spending 20 minutes together is better than no time at all. Devote time to your spouse each day: exercise together in the morning, go for a walk in the evening, play a game, or snuggle in front of the television when the kids are asleep. Yes, life gets busy and schedules are hectic. But every bit of time you can spend with each other will help to fuel the relationship.
Once you have allotted designated time with your family members, it is important to actually be fully present with them. We have all been guilty of texting or emailing while our family members are trying to communicate with us. When this happens, we’re not fully listening to what they are saying. Look at your family members when they speak, listen to what they say, and minimize distractions. You will be amazed by the deeper connections you will build.
Scheduling time for you each day is just as important as allocating time to your family. You need to make sure that you are nourished physically, emotionally, and spiritually in order to be your best for others. Think about what fulfills and rejuvenates you. Perhaps it is a visit to the gym, a run outside, or a yoga class before you head home. Maybe it is reading a good book, listening to music, playing an instrument, browsing your photograph collection, working on your latest art project, or just sitting peacefully with a cup of tea. Think about what you enjoy most, make a date with yourself, and take that time for you every single day.
Below are tips to improve your work-life balance and your family relationships with an aim towards creating a happier home environment.
Steps You Can Take as a Family
- Set aside the time to connect every day – Designate family dinners, activities, and date nights with your spouse.
- Do activities you all enjoy – Find commonalities, and do things together that you all love.
- Put away the electronics – When you sit down to a meal, try to make it an electronic-free zone so that you and your family can connect. If you are on-call, keep your phone on ring, but leave it on the counter rather than next to you at the dinner table.
- Communicate openly and share your feelings – Be open and honest with your spouse. You will reduce your stress and feel a sense of relief when the issue has been aired.
- Forgive and move forward – Yes, tiffs are normal. Rather than hold a grudge, forgive each other. Try to find a happy medium instead of focusing on the need to be right.
Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Home-Life and Add More You-Time
- Use your car ride as a time to relax and decompress for the day – Take advantage of the time you have in the car. Listen to your favorite music, book, or non-work related podcast. Take deep breaths and perhaps listen to a short meditation when you park in the driveway before you enter the house.
- Separate work and home-life – When you come home, hang up your “work hat” and acknowledge that you are stepping into a new space with people who love you.
- Eliminate all of the negative and focus on positive topics – Sometimes we get so wrapped up in work that we tend to focus on it too much at home. If you spend an entire evening at home complaining about events at work, it can be stressful to you and to your family. I recommend that you and your spouse dedicate 10 minutes to talk about the negative things that happened during the day and then move on to a positive topic.
- Use Your Planner – Schedule your you-time in your planner. Write down what you will do, when you will do it, and how long the activity will last. Plan time with yourself.
- Be flexible – A busy day does not mean that you should neglect yourself. Carve out some time for yourself, even if it’s just 10 minutes. Any length of time is better than none at all.
As is true with the formation of any new habit, you should take it one step at a time. Start small. Try to gradually incorporate one or two of the suggested strategies. See what helps you and your family to create the life you desire. As Michael J. Fox said, “Family is not an important thing, it’s EVERYTHING.” And when you take care of yourself, you will give your family your “best self” and work towards creating cherished moments spent together.