Is there a constant battle in your home to protect family time?
Or perhaps you’ve not really given it a second thought. You are so caught up in the current of busy-ness–work, kids’ activities, home management, family responsibilities–that the need to protect family time has been no more than a fleeting thought.
If that is the case, you are exactly the parent who needs to listen.
Why is Protecting Family Time Important?
I do not urge you to protect family time just because it’s new fad or buzz word, but because the health of your family, the bonds you form together, the foundation you build in your children are at stake. I truly believe that one of the biggest gifts we can give our kids is a strong sense of family, because when your children have that, they always have people in their lives to turn to for love and support.
The peramiters of that family are up to you; it may only be immediate members, or it may include cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents. It may embrace family that is not connected by blood, but by love. Whatever your family looks like, call it Family with a capital F and commit yourself to protect time with them. They are the people who will be there for your kids when you cannot. Somehow, just knowing that we have a small community who loves and supports us give us strength and makes us stand up just a bit taller.
Protect Your Family: It Takes Commitment, and Creativity
Protect your family by first making a decision that family time is a priority. Make it a core value in your home and then filter family decisions through that. After than, it just make take some creativity as you set out to guard family time.
- Say No more often. There will always be people asking you to do things things. Carefully weight those opportunities. They may be very worthwhile, but too many involvements means too busy and too busy makes it very hard for families to be together.
- Say Yes to things that include family members. When trying to decide what to say Yes to and what to say No to, consider the options that allow you to be with family. Whether it’s volunteering with family, enjoying an event with family, or just hanging out with family. This does not mean that you have to spend every day doing something with family, it just means that when life gets hectic and family time grows scarce, it’s time to start looking for ways to be together.
- Give your kids something they can depend on. Whether it’s breakfast together every morning, dinner together every night, Sunday outings, Friday night Fun night–give them family time they can count on. As they grow older, you will have to get really creative because kids will get busier with friends, school activities, and sports, and they may say or hint that they don’t want family time, but stick to your guns. They need it, even though they think they don’t. Somewhere in your day, in your week, there will be an opportunity to give your kids routine time, although there’s really nothing routine about it. You are actually laying solid brick foundations in your children’s character, in their souls.
- Set limits on take-home work. The danger with our high-tech society is that we can always have our work with us. Protecting family time means you establish boundaries. For instance, when my husband taught high school and coached, he always had papers to grade and films to watch. But he purposed to put it aside at home until the kids were in bed. Maybe it’s time for you or your spouse to set up rules about when you can be working at home and when you can’t.
- Leave work and come home at the same time each day. I know some jobs are demanding, but as much as it is within your power, be home at the same time every day. You may not think it is a big deal, but your consistency is huge in your children’s lives. It is another building block to their character, one that produces a sense of security. I remember coming home from school every day, walking from the bus and coming in the door, knowing that my mom was home, at work in her office (she worked from home). Maybe you pick your kids up after school or practice…then be there on time. Or perhaps you pick your kids up from daycare or your spouse does and you greet them at home….then be there at the same time as much as you can. Every day that you do that, you add another little lego piece to a huge structure that will someday be a beautiful building. Start leaving out lego pieces here and there and the structure doesn’t grow as fast or as strong.
- Be flexible and work with what you’ve been given. When the schedule seems tight or inflexible, it’s time to get creative. For me, getting creative meant that when my husband had to work in the family business on Saturday, I’d take the kids to eat lunch with him at his work. It meant that when my husband coached football, I’d take the kids to the games and let them run out on the field after each game and jump in his arms while he talked with players and parents. I don’t know what getting creative will look like for you, but I can guarantee you that family-time opportunities are there if you look hard enough and think outside the box a bit.
- Establish family traditions. When the kids are little, they will love them. Perhaps in their teen years, they may roll their eyes at them, but when they get to be young adults, they will love them again. Family traditions also add lego pieces to the “little buildings” you are working on. Family traditions strengthen a sense of consistency and security, they provide memories and many moments of bonding. They become parts of who your children will become.
Every day, my husband goes to work in the family business, working with his 83-year-old dad. Every day he is reminded of what his life could look like if he did not protect his family time. His dad is a walking advertisement for living a life of regret. He’s miserable, never satisfied, disconnected from family, and only finds solace in his money. Instead of protecting family time as his four boys grew up, he protected his wallet. The result is a dysfunctional relationship with four sons. I sometimes wonder how different their lives would look today if their dad had made family a priority in his life.
The family that you have is God’s gift to you. Unwrap it, enjoy it, protect it. It can be the gift that keeps on giving if you give it proper care.
If you are reading my blog, I know it’s because you want your child to have a good youth sports experience.
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