Do you struggle with having quality family time? Spending quality time requires a lot of effort and assumes the mind-set that it’s not how much time you spend together, but how you spend that time. Focusing on the quality of time can end up costing a lot of money and be stressful, as expectations are high that what you do together is flawless. A tall order.
However, spending quantity time with each other as a priority over what you are actually doing requires less effort and has more benefits. You’ll have more opportunities for shared experiences, listening and learning from each other, building deep trust, being there for each other. In popular psychology, the term proximity effect refers to the idea that physical and psychological nearness to others tends to increase interpersonal liking (Schneider, Gruman, & Coutts, 2012). It is expected that people will connect with others that they are close to in proximity out of convenience. Examples?
Let’s take an easy one first. Everyone has to eat. So…do it together! You will build a strong sense of belonging with your family by having dinner with each other every night. My wife and I also make the time to have lunch together everyday.
What might be stopping you from shifting to a focus on spending more time with your family is a perceived lack of time. But you really can have the time, if you commit to making some changes. I know you are willing to try, because really what’s more important than your family? I put a priority on walking my daughter to school everyday and volunteering in my kids activities (school, youth sports, drama) and in doing so, I spend a lot of time with them. How do you find the time?
The first thing you need to do is to organize your stuff. You shouldn’t be surprised by this if you have been reading my blog. It all starts with this. If everything you own has a designated area where it’s kept, you won’t waste time trying to find it. The time really does add up! Also, without clutter all around you, you will be calm, have a clear sense of what’s important, and be primed for leisure time with your family. Weir Organized is here to help should you need assistance getting organized and learning routines to stay that way.
You will have more time once your household is organized. But there are also time use practices you will need to employ to enable you to spend quantity time with your family. Get the ball rolling by scheduling multiple blocks of family time in your calendar. If you want to get anything done, you must schedule it. We schedule weekly theme nights where family time is a priority, such as movie night, jam band night, and board/card game night.
Free up more time by removing tasks from your calendar that are taking away from family time, such as nonessential shopping, social media, and screens. For tasks that must be done, familiarize yourself with the 80/20 Principle and accept that these tasks don’t have to be completed to perfection – a fraction of your efforts are generally responsible for a majority of the outcome. Most of the time, good enough really is enough. Furthermore, there will always be more to do – you really can, and must, learn to say “No” to unproductive things that are taking away your precious time. However, while you are working on your calendar, to ensure your sanity, you also need to schedule in “buffer time” for the unexpected and “me time” for decompression and self-enrichment.
If you have kids, they will only be in your house for a fraction of both your lifetimes. This time in your lives is priceless; you will never get it back. This is the reason why I only work part time – only when my kids are in school. Even before I started my own business, I did the same while working at Sony
PlayStation, which like many other work places understands the value of, and allows flexible work hours. I am able to work part time now because I delayed gratification and saved sufficient income before our kids were born.
If you think you can’t afford to work part time, you should still think it through to be sure. You may be surprised. Don’t get caught up in the hazardous cycle of working so much that you buy things you feel you deserve (because of all your hard work), but you don’t really need, so you have to continue to work more to support that habit. If this is you, it’s time to learn to delay gratification of material things and live on a strict budget. You just might be able to put off full-time work for a while and reach your goal of spending quantity time with family, which is much more rewarding than material things. There will be more time for full-time work after the kids go to college.
This Thursday (April 26th) is take your Daughters & Sons to Work Day. If you have kids, take this opportunity as a step toward your new goal of spending quantity time with them. They will learn so much about you and you will inspire them. I’m sure the feeling will be mutual.
Last week you learned how to cut the cord on TV and won back hours of family quantity time in doing so. Next week I’ll show you how to win back even more time with something most of us really enjoy and we all must do: eat.