By Susan Heid of The Confident Mom
By now, everyone is back in school and schedules are a little crazy. Do you find yourself passing each other as one comes in the front door and you go out? Are you lucky to find time to eat a meal together during the week or even all be in the same room at the same time? It takes constant work and intentional thinking to keep a family focused and connected and honestly the job lies on the shoulders of moms.
Over my years of working with families and especially overwhelmed moms, I have come up with a few key points that allow this task a little easier. If we don’t step up to the plate, then who will? Our role as Keeper of the Home is to create a place where our family can rest, be renewed and feel connected, but if we are never in the home all together how will this happen?
Be at Home – a big concern I have with how families are operating today is that parents are feeling this overwhelming guilt to offer all kinds of activities for their children. It is rampant! When a mom comes to me and I ask her to describe her day to me and she proceeds to share a day of taxi driving kids from one activity to another, it is no surprise she is feeling overwhelmed and having a hard time juggling it all. We are under a false sense that we must provide multiple opportunities for our kids to do “everything” or else they miss out. Don’t take this the wrong way, I am not saying your kids can’t be involved in an activity, but you have to limit that involvement for the benefit of the family unit. There is no other way. If you are continually just passing through your front door and not spending time within its walls you are creating the opposite of what I think most moms want for their family.
I don’t care what size of a family you have you must create some boundaries and guidelines concerning outside activities. If you do not, then they will control you. We have a policy in our family that you are allowed one sport/activity per season. At a few different times music lessons were permitted during the same time a sport or activity was occurring, but it was only when the lesson took place in our home (no driving for me) or at school. I cannot tell you how this preserved our time as a family. Although with 3 kids and each doing a sport in the same season, it was difficult and I wanted to change our position, but we made it work. I was fortunate because none of our kids did a winter sport, so we had an entire season ‘off’ and it was something I could look forward to.
This fall we have only one participating in a sport and the fabulous part is it only takes place on the weekend. I cannot tell you when I can remember that every day after school my kids are together in our own home. This also then overflows to us having dinner together, which brings me to another item I am very passionate about.
Meal Time – The research is there and still we wonder of the value of eating meals together as a family. For example:
According to a new (2005) Columbia University survey, teenagers who eat with their families at least five times a week are more likely to get better grades in school and much less likely to have substance abuse problems.
A survey of 1,000 teens by the National Center Addiction and Drug Abuse at Columbia University (2008) found that nearly half of teens thought dinnertime was the best time to talk to their parents about something important. More than 80% of the teens in the same survey said they preferred having dinner with their families to eating alone.
The Home-School Study of Language and Literacy Development, a joint project between Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and Clark University, found that the discussions that take place at the dinner table are important to children’s speech development. Lively discussions of current events or explanations make a bigger contribution to children’s vocabularies than just saying “Pass the peas.”
So, better grades and less likely to have substance abuse problems, greater opportunity to connect with your teen and better language development. WOW – I don’t know about you, but we all have to eat so why not make this a priority in order to reap these additional benefits?
If family meal time is missing from your daily or weekly schedule, start incorporating it in. Take the time to plan dinner, have it be something your family looks forward to, invite some interesting conversation topics (a great resource is Family Table Topics, our family loves this!) talk about your day, ask open ended questions, not the typical “how was your day” instead say, “tell me about your day” “what was your favorite part” “what was the worst part”, you will be amazed at what comes out of those simple questions. Talk about what is in the news depending on the age of your children, just get everyone talking.
If you need help getting a plan together for dinner, check out Emealz or Beyond Beans and Weenies – two great sites that help moms prepare and deliver dinner with less stress!
Laugh Together – Now, this one is often combined with having meals together at our house! We get into some great conversations that end up making us all laugh and it creates a bonding that nothing else will. When you can be a little silly at times and share in that laughter, it ignites a different level of connectedness for you and your children. You can do this at meal time, while playing games, while doing homework, really most anything. Let your imagination come out. When your kids see you in a different light rather than always the serious side it changes dynamics for the better.
So what suggestion here can you incorporate this week in your home? What speaks to your heart and you feel compelled to change? The intentional action steps you take to make a change for the positive will be well worth it. You might be met with some resistance at first, but still with what you know in your gut – creating that family unity is one of the primary goals of a mom. Take it seriously and intentionally and your kids will be blessed!
Susan Heid helps moms get the BIG picture on how their home is functioning and then helps them gain relief with a personalized plan of action to give life changing results. Susan’s training as a PCI Certified Parent Coach. a Certified Family Manager Coach and a ScreamFree Certified Leader gives her a unique combination to encourage and support busy moms in the art of Home and Family Management. Empowering Moms and Strengthening Families is her passion. Are you ready to make positive changes that will impact your family for generations? You can start by visiting The Confident Mom and requesting her FREE ebook, “Getting Kids to Cooperate and Become Team Players – 10 Essential Strategies and Solutions”.