Life nowadays seems to be all about “24-7.” Many of us are slaves to time and we believe we never have enough of it. Not enough for ourselves, not enough for our family. But we can always find more quality time for our families by being more creative or more efficient. Here are 10 practical ways:
1. Pro-rate your priorities
Create a small index card with a simple list of 5-10 priorities, customized to your family (do this with your wife). Make sure “family time” is on the list. Then, when you are making decisions, have the card in front of you to keep things in perspective.
2. Leadership – be the example and bite the bullet when necessary
This won’t even begin to work if dad always has an excuse, an out, or something more important when it comes to family plans. Sometimes this means telling your family, “My friends wanted to take me on a golf outing but I’m committed to our morning at the beach.” Be the leader, especially when it’s difficult.
3. Plan for family time
If it’s not on the calendar, chances are it won’t happen. This is a simple principle that is often overlooked. Family time is not an afterthought; it is a priority.
4. Don’t waste the time that you have
Make the most of the time you have. Don’t fritter away an evening when you’re all at home without doing something together, even if it’s just one hour for an impromptu visit to the ice-cream parlor.
5. Put a family calendar in the kitchen and use it
Coordinate the family schedule from a central location that everyone can use. Everyone can write stuff in pencil…but only the parents get to change it to ink. Get into the habit of requiring everyone to check in and be intentional about working together.
6. Call a weekly family meeting to coordinate family life
The calendar can be finalized at a regular family meeting. Plan for this. It may be awkward at first, but it’s worth the deliberate intention.
7. Schedule regular family dinners
Three times a week? Four? Six? You (parents) make the call, and then stick with the plan. Family mealtimes are mini-family meetings. They should never include television and can be the cement that holds family unity together.
8. Monitor, restrict and maximize TV viewing
Rampant television can suck community right out of the house. Limited and planned viewing, together, can be a great family activity. The key here is to be in control of this resource rather than allowing yourselves to be controlled by the TV.
9. Make family time pleasurable
This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s important. It’s teaching by doing. Pay attention to the quality of family time. If—more often than not—it’s confrontational, negative, or just plain boring, then it’s obviously counter-productive. Make sure family time is something the family looks forward to. Then it will increase naturally.
10. Build sports-schedules around the family, not vice-versa
Important question: Who is in charge? No, seriously. When family time is the priority, then other events support the family. But when things other than your family priorities call the shots, it’s difficult to be anything but reactive and reduced to always playing catch up.
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your wife tonight and ask her: How can we increase the time we spend together as a family by 10% a week?