There’s never enough time for everything you want to do. But in our crazy-busy culture of crowbarring 10 more things in every time you have five minutes to spare, it’s important to find ways to make the most of the time that you do have.
Sure, it would be nice to be with our families anytime we wanted to, never missing a class field trip or soccer game. But with work and other responsibilities, as well as working around multiple children’s schedules, that’s not a reality for most people. Maybe you run a business or have a demanding job that doesn’t allow you to spend as much time with your family as you’d like to. Or maybe you just find yourself battling the mom-guilt or dad-guilt of never feeling like you’re with your kids enough.
Whatever your struggle looks like, you can find a little more peace of mind by focusing on quality over quantity. If you can’t have as much time with your family as you would like to, focus on having the best time with them. Here are five ways to do that:
- Put your phone on airplane mode. I know you need your phone on to take pictures of your kids doing awesome things, but if your phone is connected to the outside world, then you’re connected too. Without even meaning to, you’ll be distracted with email, text, social media and the Internet within minutes. Let’s stop making our loved ones compete with a device for our attention. It’s a poor reflection of our priorities and it’s stealing time that we can’t get back. Instantly improve your family time by simply turning those notifications off. (Did you know that they are coming out with a dumb phone that only makes calls to help people unplug more? How about you just unplug more? There. I saved you the cost of a new dumb phone! And you’re welcome.)
- Look them in the eyes. When your spouse tells you a story or your kids show you a trick, look them in the eyes. We all think that multitasking is the solution to maximizing our time, but all that does is minimize our connections with each other. Don’t cook, work or do other things while you’re also trying to have quality time with your family. You don’t have to stare them in the eyes all day because that would be weird and you wouldn’t get anything else done. But when you’re trying to have quality time with them, really pay attention to them. Making the most of your time happens when you’re fully present, and that includes looking your loved ones in the eyes.
- Ask questions. Your family craves your attention, and one of the best ways to give them your attention is by asking questions. Show you’re interested in your kids’ thoughts, feelings and ideas by asking lots of questions and then listening to their answers. You might just be amazed at what’s going on in that little head of theirs—something you may have never known had you not just simply asked.
- Do something new. It’s easy to go through the same routine, eat at the same restaurants, and do the same activities week in and week out. We are all naturally creatures of habit, and while this is efficient, it also can get boring. Inject fun and energy into your family time by doing something completely new that you all have never done before together. Half of the fun of doing it is in the adventure of the unknown.
- Take time to play. I’ve written about this before because it’s so important. When you take time to play, you make your lives together more fun. Playfulness creates laughter in your relationships, lightness to your love, and memories you’ll never forget.
You may not be able to work less, buy time, or even find more time in the season of life that you’re in, but quality is more important than quantity anyway. I would rather have an amazing two hours with my family than an entire day with no one truly present or enjoying each other.
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If you turn your phone off and look your loved ones in the eyes, if you ask them questions and listen to their answers, if you try something new and take time to play, if you focus on quality time over quantity of time, I think you’ll find that you’re truly having the best time.