For many of us, the hustle & bustle of Christmas is over, and with kids about to launch into a new year of school, it feels like now is the time when things begin to settle back into normality for the year ahead. For all families, we can know for sure that there will be new and fresh challenges waiting for us in the year ahead which will require patience, wisdom and perhaps even a shoulder to cry on. These challenges could come from raising children, teenagers that push you to your limit, or from a struggling marriage where the same old issues keep arising.
Now is the time to consider the things that you need to put in place so that 2022 looks different! Not because it will automatically make your teenager turn angelic, but because you’ve taken the time to apply the necessary structure that is needed for families to flourish.
So here are a few tips:
1. Balance work & home life.
It’s not easy balancing your work and home life, but how you manage it can make quite a difference to your relationship with your family. Consider all the things that compete for your time and decide what to keep, what to discard and what to adjust. You might be surprised at how many unnecessary things are robbing you of your family time! Learn to focus on the important things and become a professional at saying “No” to the things that are just not a high priority for you at the moment. Being able to work in a way that fits around family commitments and isn’t restricted to the 9 to 5 can be helpful if it is at all possible. At the very least, be a better planner. Buy a big calendar and make sure that everyone is on the same page with work, events or outings. This, along with regular family meetings, is helpful to assess where you are at, and what is coming up in the future, so that balance can become more achievable.
2. Look after yourself.
Parents often spend all their time looking after everyone else in the family and forget about themselves. If you don’t look after yourself, you can end up feeling miserable and resentful, and you won’t be able to give your children the support they need. Admit to yourself that you actually have feelings and needs of your own. It’s not selfish to treat yourself once in a while! It doesn’t have to be expensive – but putting aside some time to do just what YOU want to do, even if it’s 10 minutes a day, is so important.
3. Train your children.
If we don’t train our children, the ideas and notions of every other idea or philosophy will. This involves firstly setting a good example for our children. This doesn’t mean we have to be perfect, but just real and genuine, taking responsibility for our own mistakes when they are made and apologizing if necessary. Someone once told me that ‘your children will be the greatest mirror you will ever see of yourself’…..scary but somewhat true!! Setting family guidelines and establishing boundaries for our children is essential, with consequences that will be followed through consistently in love when lines are crossed.
4. Quality time.
Organize time together as a family once or twice a week and make eating together at night a place where you connect and enjoy family time; with the TV off and all electronic devices turned off of course! Creating environments where communication can flow is such a vital part of building healthy relationships. Plan things in the future that you can do together. Our children are all grown up now and living out of home, so we make weekly family dinners a priority and work towards having family holidays or weekend getaways where possible. Consistent quality time with your family, in whatever way works for you, will build strength, unity and love.
Organizing date nights and special quality time with your partner is also important. The closeness that is built from time spent together is the foundation that healthy families are built upon.
5. Be flexible.
Although structure and routine is important in families, sometimes we just need interrupted time for spontaneous fun and/or rest. Your ability to be flexible in the challenges that come your way this year in the family could be the very thing that is needed to ignite some fun, calm the storm or give the room needed to forgive.