If you’ve ever been in your car with your children, ages less than ten, then you’ve been asked this question, maybe multiple times. Sometimes it’s repeated multiple times, just to annoy you. Other times it’s recurring occasionally, as you make your way to your destination. While your child wants a reasonable time estimate, there’s always an underlying situation.
If your destination is a fun place or activity, “are we there yet?” is code for feeling eager, anxious, or frustrated with anticipation. Going on a fun vacation, to a recreation theme park, to the zoo or aquarium would be spots where getting there would be a chore that they would want to get over quickly.
If your destination is more for you than for your kids, perhaps a trip to visit distant relatives, “are we there yet?” is code for being bored, feeling antsy, wanting any kind of interaction to make the time go more quickly.
In either case, the question suggests that your child may have an emotional fever. That is, physically all is well, but emotionally they are out of sorts. When my kids were young and these circumstances came up, I would ask, tongue-in-cheek, if they needed me to go to the “sorts store” to get them back in sorts. LOL.
With that ice breaker, take some time to help your kids figure out what they are feeling. This is the heart of active listening.
Mindy was being fidgety in the back seat. Restless, changing position, sighing loudly. I picked up on these cues of her emotional fever.
“Hey, Baby. What’s going on?” I caught her eye in the rear-view mirror.
“I’m bored. Are we there yet?”
“Getting there can feel like forever, huh?”
“Why do we have to go? Can’t we go somewhere closer to home?”
“Ah, but when we get there, think of all the fun we will have.”
“That’s stupid. It’s no fun getting there.”
“You’re really stuck, huh?” His daughter got quiet. “I have some thoughts about how we can pass the time. Wanna hear them?”
After your child gets her feelings out and pauses is the time to ask permission to offer solutions. If you offer them to soon, she might not feel heard. She may take your solutions as dismissing her feelings. So, as you move forward, get her permission.
Nowadays, with the ever-present IPad and personal phone, kids frequently find ways to occupy themselves on long car trips. However, if these electronics lead to commotion, or if you have a family rule of electronic-free time together, then car trip games can fill the bill. Even young children can follow and participate in the “I spy something” game. Each person in the car takes a turn identifying something in or outside the car by a feature, like color or shape or position. The others, then also in turn, make guesses as to what/where the object is. Time passes quickly and everyone is involved having fun.
For older, school-aged kids, “Ghost” passes the time quickly and also helps kids with their spelling. One family member starts with a letter and others add a letter in turn until one person completes spelling a word. If I spell the first word on my turn, then I get a “G.” Whoever spells out “GHOST” loses the game. More of a thinking game that’s also fun on car rides.
Finally, sequential story-telling can be fun, with unexpected twists and turns in the plot development. Here, one of you starts a story with, “Once upon a time…” Each of you takes the storyline as it unfolds and adds only one sentence at a time. The story can be as long as your trip and keeps all involved, since no one knows just how it turns out and how it gets there.
Long ago, when my oldest grandchild was only age 7, she and her dad and I undertook a 6-mile hike up Mount LaConte in Gatlinburg, TN. It was a rigorous, 4-hour journey, where each of us had a backpack. We started a sequential story at the outset and little Katie was so involved in the plot development that she kept pace and didn’t ask once to be picked up and carried.
“Are we there yet?” can be the bane of every family’s car trips. Use a variety of road games to help your child pass the time around naps and other trip activities. They will help you connect with your children and add to the fun of getting there.
Most families have defined, unique rituals. Some are part of the family’s daily life together. Others occur at different times of the year. They may similar among families, but each family has its own take.
So, what defines a family ritual? It’s an event or circumstance involving all family members. Family members all value the ritual, at varying degrees. They tend to count on it. Tell time or season by it. It becomes very important to each member in their own way.
Top of the list are family meals, notably dinner. Some families pray a blessing for the food. My daughter and her family pray out loud in unison before eating. That gets a little eye-popping when they go out to eat. LOL
Also, many families have bedtime rituals, especially when the kids are young. When my first-born grandchild was born and living with us, I would help her get her bath, play in her room together, read a story (one more, Papa, pleeeease!), and gently rub her back while singing her a lullaby. As she got older, our bedtime ritual became a checking in time of, “So, how was your day, dear?”
Families who have the time and money often make a ritual of family vacations together. Our little slice of heaven was Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina, the last two weeks of July. During a preparatory family meeting, I would ask each of our kids and their mama what they wanted to do at the beach this year, within time and resource constraints. We’d gather and compare “do lists,” making sure to incorporate as much as possible into the time at the beach.
These kinds of rituals help give family identity. We look forward to them. They give us value as a whole, in addition to what each of us brings to the family unit. They are part of what makes us family.
A few cautionary notes. Family meals become more meaningful when they occur around a common table. TV trays together in front of the boob tube is not a meaningful family ritual. Squirreling food into each one’s bedroom doesn’t count at all.
Also, to encourage conversation at the table, many families agree for all to put away their electronic devices for the duration of the meal.
Oftentimes, because kids always want to stay up longer, bedtime rituals need time limits. How many drinks of water does a child need, anyway. Delay tactics abound. When I was being played, I invoked a countdown to quiet and still. Even the most hyper kids will fall asleep in minutes when quiet and perfectly still.
Finally, planning family vacations is crucial, best done within a family meeting prior to vacation. Recognizing that circumstances change and things come up, try to stick to the list and schedule as much as possible. Winging it on vacation tends to generate as much anxiety as it might be fun. Creating a plan limits the development of factions within the family and lobbying for certain events.
So, what are your family rituals? Identifying them and looking forward to them enhance your family-ness.
Do we live in a world of bubbles? I remember blowing bubbles with my pre-school children to their great delight and laughter. Playful bubbles, like these, can be really fun and good. Lifestyle bubbles? Not so much.
Lifestyle bubbles tend to be exclusive, rigid, inflexible. They define the either/or polarity of our current, political landscape. But they tend to expand beyond political landscape.
My granddaughter, Kaitlyn, was about 4 years old long ago and entering a pre-K program full of then strangers. I spent time teaching her to approach another child with, “Hi. I’m Kaitlyn. What’s your name?” She was reluctant at first, so we practiced with her teddy bears.
When I picked her up from her first day of pre-K, Katie was so excited. She rattled off the names of four other girls she had met and played with in her class that day. That was her first lesson in being proactive, rather than reactive.
Another parent told me her story some time ago. Similar circumstances. When she was dropping off her daughter at pre-school, another child came up to them to greet them. The mom pulled her daughter back from meeting the other girl, explaining, “Hold on a second, honey. We don’t know this girl yet. Let’s find the mommy or her teacher.”
This family might be living in a bubble. Such bubbles can be protective, but maybe also defensive, limiting possible positive experiences.
Bubble families believe such things as “that’s not how we do things.” “That’s not our belief system.” “We stick to our own.” “Having more information will just be more confusing.” “Stick to what we know to be right for us.” Such beliefs limit experience, facts, and resources.
When families pop that proverbial bubble, children are given the freedom to explore their environments, better understand the variety of cultures, races, and circumstances in their worlds, and find comfort levels that work for them. They have more information from which to make informed decisions.
Developmentally, there are four stages of parenting, based on your child’s age. From birth to age 5, parents make all the decisions for their children. This is hands-on parenting. This keeps their children safe, healthy, and thriving.
From ages 5-10, parents hear their children out, qualify circumstances, and give their children direction. This is directed parenting, borne from their parents’ wisdom and experience. Children engage in and explore their worlds and friendships, but with keen parental oversight.
From ages 10-18, children are developing the capacity for abstract thinking, being able to form their own opinions about what’s important to them. Parents can buck their child’s growing sense of self and risk alienating them. Or, they can hear them out, understand their thoughts and feelings, ask if they want their help, and if asked for, give them advice. This is advice-based parenting. Tweens and teens benefit from their relationship and emotional intimacy with their parents. Parents nurture the quality of children thinking for themselves.
Beyond age 18, our young adults are living their own lives, making their own decisions, and finding their way through a mistake-ridden landscape. Having successfully launched our children into their independent, healthy relationships, socially conscious adulthood, we help them when asked by providing expert consultation. This is consultative parenting.
In business and industry, an expert consultant is first called in to give the consultation. Before his presentation, he gathers observations, policies, and practice to collect his thoughts on the matter. He then makes his presentation and recommendations, thereafter leaving whether his wise counsel is implemented, or not.
If I offer my opinion before being asked for it, I’m butting in. If I disregard my child’s perspective and feelings, I’m dismissing him. He might conclude that I think he’s too dumb or misinformed to get it right, so I’ll just do it for him. Even if the path he chooses is the opposite of your choice and full of risk and regret, the decision is his to make. Your expert consultation and wise counsel provide a foundation for on-going and growing emotional intimacy and healthy relationship with your now adult child.
Lifestyle bubbles are created within your parenting style. Since 75% of your child’s personality is formed in the first 5 years of life, your parenting decisions will likely stay with your child for their lifetime. No pressure. LOL Help your child be proactive, explore their expanding world in safe ways, and find their own path to the good life.
Okay. So, what are ordinal issues? Think of the root word “order.” Ordinal issues have to do with the birth order of your children. There are typical personality characteristics that are affected by birth order. Usually, the first-born child is the most responsible of your children. Also, since that one is your first, and you’ve never parented before, the first-born is the experimental one.
Most new parents use what they know or have experienced. When you’ve been blessed with good parents, you want to parent your own children just like you experienced being parented. If you were victimized as a child by bad parents, you imagine parenting just the opposite of how you were parented. However, if you’ve been severely traumatized by your parent(s), to get through it, some kids deal with that by concluding that it’s just how parenting is. Without proper guidance, these kids often become as troubled as their parents.
First-borns are rule conscious because they don’t want to upset their parents and because all of parental attention, of course, is on them. Their parents are experimental in their parenting because they’ve never done this before and don’t have a good grasp on effective parenting. So, they wing it and continue what works.
When the second child comes along, depending on age difference, first-borns either have a new playmate, or their responsibility gene kicks in and they become their sibling’s surrogate parent. Both options are typically reinforced by their parents. “Look at you, playing so nicely with your brother.” “You are such a mama’s little helper. Thank you for looking out for your brother.”
Research on ordinal relationships suggest that, if your children are closer than three years apart in age, parents get a 2 for 1 special and the kids benefit from basically growing up together. If the siblings are greater than three years apart, the first-born is more likely to embrace the responsible surrogate role with their sibling. The greater birth difference also brings into the picture their differing developmental issues.
Your second child, as the younger, is more likely to be spoiled, testing limits, questioning your authority or parenting decisions. This, of course, requires more of your parental attention to rein this child in and encourage him to conform to your expectations. Having begun the parenting journey with your first-born, parents are less likely to be experimental with their second-born. You’ve figured out what works best.
If/when a youngest child is born, your second child becomes the middle child. Middle children have a mixed blessing. On the one hand, middle children are usually more social, more inquisitive, more curious. On the other hand, middle children are often considered “lost” in the family. Parents tend to unconsciously gravitate toward the oldest and youngest children, as they seem more needy. Middle kids can get “lost” in the shuffle of the family. Accordingly, they often are attention-seeking and can be at greater risk for acting out. After all, negative attention is better than no attention.
The youngest child in you family most frequently tests the limits. They can be more demanding of your attention, often playing the “cute” factor. They want to be included in all things older or adult. Parents want to set healthy boundaries with them and stick to them. They often learn things faster, because the middle and first-born siblings have already been there-done that. Youngest children have the benefit of their sibling’s experiences
If your family has expanded beyond three children, then there are more kids vying for your attention. First-born and youngest roles tend to continue, while middle-child roles are shared among the middle children. Jealously becomes a factor, as new children are added to the mix. All the children look for their “place” in the mix.
Regardless of ordinal issues depending on the size of your family, be sure to carve out one-on-one time daily with each of your children, according to their needs and wants. Also, keep sacred certain whole family time and activities. These become touch tones that everybody learns to count on and define you as a thriving unit, despite of individual nuances.
Such sacred family time and activity can include having dinner as a family around the dinner table each night. This becomes check-in and catch-up time to keep all on the same page. Additional whole family events include annual vacations and holiday traditions. Hope these comments are helpful.
Ya know? There’s an art to cuddling. I’m not just talking about pinching the cheek of an infant, giving them a big hug. That’s part of it, but not nearly all of it. Cuddling takes many forms, depending on the age of the cuddlee and your relationship to that person. Mastering the art of cuddling magnifies the quality of any of your relationships.
A cuddle is a physical interaction between cuddler and cuddlee, where the intent is to draw the cuddle emotionally closer to you. With your children, cuddling is in the category of playful parenting.
Daddy is coming in the front door and little Joey, age 5, sees him from the playroom. He bolts from his toys, runs full speed toward his father, and launches himself into daddy’s arms. Daddy grabs his gleeful son and spins him around, while laughing and telling how glad he is to see him. Cuddling.
Jim has put aside Saturday morning to start the process of crafting a treehouse with his 10-year-old son, Adam. The raw materials were delivered yesterday. Adam’s eyes widened as his dad asked him if he would be his helper on putting the treehouse together. After breakfast, they got to work. Cuddling.
Three-year-old Kaitlyn was ready to settle down and go to sleep. Her Papa read one of her favorite picture books to her as part of their bedtime routine. When it was time to settle down, Papa rubbed her back lightly as he sang a lullaby to her. She was asleep before he finished. Cuddling.
Mason was showing off his new learner’s permit he and his dad had just picked up from the DMV. His friends were jealous, as they had not yet turned 15. Mason’s eyes lit up when his dad asked if he wanted to take the car for a spin. He then spent a half hour each day after work for two weeks giving him practice driving. Cuddling.
Jason and Elise were watching television one night when he got up and went to sit on his footrest close to her footrest. He reached over and began massaging her feet slowly and gently while they continued watching tv. Cuddling.
Make time with each of your children each day to be playful and to cuddle them. To do so, enter their world. Let them initiate. Be open and willing to try most anything. You might find yourself sitting in a living room fort made of pillows and blankets reading spooky stories. You might find yourself made up by your little girl who wanted to try mommy’s cosmetics. Whatever is harmless and engaging is on the table. It includes fun family activities, but also split up the kids so that each of you has some one-on-one time with each kid at some point each week.
Cuddle time and playful parenting is what your kids will remember for a lifetime. Blessings, Dr. Jon
Coming to Terms with Your Teen
Dear Dr. Robinson,
My daughter, Carla, just turned 13 years old, and she thinks she’s all that. Making fun of her younger sister. Wanting to hang all over the friends of her 17-year-old brother, whenever they come over. I try to correct her, but it seems as though my words fall on deaf ears. If she gives me another “what…ever,” and eyeroll, I think I’ll scream. Suggestions?
Signed, Overwrought Mom
Yep. You’ve got your hands full. Your three kids are at three different developmental stages. Your younger daughter just wants big sis’s attention and is resisting that sis is growing up. Your oldest son is just trying to live his life, have fun with his buds, and not be otherwise bothered. Middle daughter? She’s wanting to bust out on her own, be accepted by older boys, and emotionally distance herself from you, to find ways to define herself in her world.
Hang in there with her. She won’t tell you, but this is a time where she needs you to be there for her the most. Only correcting her, as you’ve found out, only pushes her further away. While she needs boundaries and discipline, work it into your time with her, without putting her in her place. Her worst fear at her age is being embarrassed. Her greatest desire is being accepted.
So, what to do. First, find time with her alone, outside of your home. She will refuse to help you with the laundry or do other chores without requisite fussing. But, if you make your alone time with her about her, she’ll be more receptive. Increasing the positive interactions with her will reduce the negative ones. Helping her buy and then apply make-up for special occasions is one such option. Asking her opinion about decisions you are making is another. However, in this case, be sure to give her options, either of which are acceptable to you. For example, is you ask, “How about pork chops for dinner?” she will blow you off. If you ask, “Would you rather have pork chops or spaghetti for dinner?” she will give you her opinion.
Second, catcher her being good. If she gives her younger sister the time of day, or even does something fun with her, thank her and tell you how much you appreciate her taking the time. Ask her if she wants to invite several girlfriends over for a popcorn and movie night and give them space to have fun together. When she’s nice and in a good, receptive mood, compliment her.
When she demonstrates an emotional fever, attitude, or is out of sorts, start with active listening. Something like, “Honey, this isn’t like you. What else is going on?” is a good conversation starter, even if what’s going on is so like her. Active listening helps you focus on her feelings, let’s her know you are with her, and gives her opportunity to sort things out for herself.
When she needs boundaries and correction, use “I-messages.” Something like, “Carla, when you yell at your sister to get out of your room and you slam the door behind her, I really worry that you want her out of your life. I’m also fearful that you will tear the door off its hinges. Is there another way we can resolve this?”
An I-message has three parts: an observable behavior, your concrete and specific feelings about that behavior, and a tangible outcome to the event. After you’ve set boundaries and made corrections, switch to active listening to continue calming her down and getting to the “real” issues.
Coming to terms with your teen will test your mettle. It may be the hardest part of parenting, shy of the pain of childbirth. Based on events and interactions, our children decide early on that they either want to be just like us, in personality and behavior, or just opposite of us. Forming an individual identity is the heart of adolescence. Helping your kids through the storms of their lives will give them opportunity to form that which is truly their personal identity, with the good parts from both of their parents.
Playful and…parenting. Do those two words actually go together? In your home, if they don’t go together, they really need to. How often have your kids been loud and boisterous? And was your response some version of, “Okay. That’s enough. All of y’all just go outside and play.” If so, you just missed a very teachable moment. Instead of shushing them and getting them out of your hair, consider joining them in some playful parenting.
Educator and author Ravi Mishra brought this to mind in one of his recent LinkedIn posts. He notes, “As parents, we play a crucial role in shaping our children’s experiences and helping them grow into well-rounded individuals. One incredibly effective way to do this is through playful parenting.”
So, what is playful parenting? It involves infusing joy, creativity, and imagination into everyday interactions with our children. It's about engaging with them on their level, joining them in their world of make-believe, and creating opportunities for fun and laughter. Play is the language children understand best; let's speak it fluently and watch them thrive.
Playful parenting is most critical in your child’s formative years, from birth to age 5. That’s also the time where 80% of their personality is formed, primarily from your interactions with them and from your influence. However, it’s important to match your playful parenting to your child’s life stage. Elementary school, tweenage years, adolescence, and adulthood all offer opportunities for teachable moments with your children.
To be a meaningful part of your child’s play activity, your parenting stimulates five qualities of playful experiences. Your time with them is joyful, actively engaging, socially interactive, meaningful, and iterative. Let them take the lead in activity. Encourage their curiosity. Include their friends. As your child grows into the next stages of development, adjust your play activity to include team sports, and their interests in other activities, such as gymnastics, ballet, art, scouting, robotics, animatronics, gaming, and the like.
Benefits abound in the process of playful parenting. For your child, they gain cognitive, physical, emotional, and social benefits. For parents, you find yourself developing greater emotional bonding, more secure attachment, and greater trust between you and your child. You also gain insight into child development through your observations.
Finally, your sense of personal well-being grows from this positive interaction with your child.
Depending on your child’s age, you don't need fancy toys or expensive gadgets to embrace playful parenting. Everyday objects and your active presence are more than enough to create meaningful play experiences. Even the leftover boxes and crates of home purchases can be turned into robots, forts, and the like.
You are the most important part of your child's life. The greatest things you can offer are your time, attention, and imagination. Make time in your busy schedules for playful parenting with your children.
In my world of mental health, resilience is the new “it” word. Lots of research on it. Lots of focus on it in the healing process. So, now I’m passing it on to you. Then, you can pass it on to your kids.
When you are being resilient, something in your life has happened and you don’t like it. However, you make the best of the bad situation. What a great way to avoid conflict?
When I was in the 7th grade, my science teacher assigned projects. I chose to use paper mâché to construct a model airplane. Of course, I put the project off to the last minute, the last night before I was to turn it in. My project was a bust. I didn’t get the paste consistency right. I couldn’t create anything that remotely resembled an airplane. I got frustrated and had a full-blown meltdown, being sure I was going to fail the project the next day.
My dad stepped in. With a calming voice and clear direction, he joined me in creating a poster presentation of 5 simple science experiments, with attending demonstration materials. We planned it all that night and he let me stay home from school the following day and helped me put it all together. I got a lower grade for turning it in late, but it wasn’t the “F” I was expecting.
That was my dad’s lesson for me in being resilient. What did I learn? First, when your child’s melting down, model for him deeper breathing, to help him get his feelings under control. Use your active listening to help him get out the bad stuff that’s rumbling inside him. Ask teachable questions of him, once he’s calmer. Such as, is it all really as bad as you are making it out to be? Is there anything else you can do to repair the situation?
People who are stuck oftentimes see their situation as totally out of their control. They also catastrophize the situation, making it worse than it actually is.
Your child learns resilience when you help them calm down, focus on what is in their control, look at the circumstances realistically, and redirect their efforts.
At 8 years old, little Travis was getting ready to go off on his 12-year-old big sister, Heather who was hogging the game station. He was working on a verbal rant, huffing and puffing, and getting all stressed out because she wouldn’t let him have his turn. “You snooze, you lose, little man,” she goaded him, and then returned to her gaming.
Instead of going off on his sister, with mom in the kitchen overhearing the exchange and ready to intervene, Travis showed resilience. He calmed his breathing, steadied himself, and declared, “Fine. Play your game. I’ve got other, more important things to do.” He then stomped off. Mom folded her arms and smiled at him as he went outside to play.
Another old adage that defines resilience is this. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. You may be stuck, with no viable alternatives, but your bad situation is defined by your perspective. You may not be able to escape or change the bad situation, but you can change your perspective. If your child were being bullied or taken advantage of, after helping him calm down, you can redirect his perspective with these questions. How can you deal with this without letting the situation get to you? Isn’t this really more about him than it is about you? Can you feel sorry for him? What’s the blessing in disguise here?
Resilience strengthens both you and your child to manage the worst of times in your lives.
This piece is offered by Cheryl Conklin, who can be reached at email@example.com.
Moving to a different residence brings a whirlwind of emotions: it's exciting but also potentially stressful. The logistics alone can feel overwhelming, not to mention the emotional toll of leaving a familiar place behind. In this article, we aim to transform that chaos into a manageable task. Dr. Robinson presents eight must-know tips, covering everything from choosing the perfect moving company to making your new space feel like a true home.
The Right Crew Makes a Big Difference. It all starts with selecting the right team to handle your move, a decision that lays the foundation for how smoothly everything else will go. Conduct thorough research by perusing online reviews, asking friends and family for recommendations, and obtaining multiple price quotes from different companies. This multifaceted approach will help you gauge the affordability, reliability, and experience of potential movers.
Have a Master Plan. Your next action should be crafting a meticulous to-do list, serving as your beacon through the maze of relocation tasks. This list will cover everything from categorizing personal items to notifying relevant contacts of your address change. Proactive planning like this significantly reduces the typical anxieties associated with moving.
Ease Your Kids' Moving Anxiety. Addressing the emotional needs of children during a move is crucial, as the experience can be particularly stressful for them. Share with them why you are moving and what they can expect. Field all of their questions. Use active listening to calm their concerns. Use age-appropriate books or stories to help them understand the process. Involve them in small but meaningful ways, such as letting them pack a box of their favorite items.
The Power of a Pristine Canvas. Nobody wants to move into a messy home. For a fresh start, ensure you thoroughly spruce up your new dwelling before the move. For this endeavor, you may want to click here for both practical advice on cleaning and reviews on the best products to use.
Handle Home Repairs With Tech. Technology can be a real lifesaver when it comes to making minor repairs or updates in your fresh abode. Various home management apps can help you keep an eye on errands, expenditures, and schedules. To quickly find expert help for your home repairs, click for info.
A Fresh Start Demands Less Baggage. A move provides the perfect opportunity to sift through the clutter that has built up over time, allowing you to start fresh in your new home. Take advantage of this transitional phase by lightening your load; sell, donate, or discard items that no longer align with your needs or lifestyle. This purging process makes the physical move easier and helps you establish a more organized living space.
Don’t Overlook the Essentials. Imagine the inconvenience of arriving at your new home only to realize you've overlooked transferring essential utilities like electricity and water—that's a scenario best avoided. Prioritize the cancellation of utilities at your old residence and ensure they are activated at your new location. Taking these steps ahead of time is crucial for a seamless transition and immediate comfort in your new home.
More Than Just Unpacking Boxes. After the final box is unloaded, the journey isn’t over. Your new environment will become home only when you make it so. Take leisurely walks around your neighborhood, discover local amenities, and gradually set up your daily routines. The sooner you acclimate, the faster your new place will feel like home.
By adhering to these eight crucial recommendations, you can transform what often becomes a tumultuous ordeal into a well-coordinated and perhaps even pleasant experience. The journey from your old home to your new one doesn't have to be rife with stress and confusion. A carefully crafted plan is your most significant tool for making the transition as smooth as possible. Keep these tips in mind to ensure a move that is hassle-free and optimally organized.
Now here’s a concept we can sink our teeth into. Quality family time is (or should be) a goal of your family interaction. These are memory-makers, “Kodak moments,” a sigh for parents who feel like they are getting affirmation, who feel like they’ve finally gotten something right. But what makes quality family time?
There are three categories of quality family time. In healthy functioning families, all three categories exist. There are glimpses, moments, and planned time together.
Angie labored over the kitchen sink, making the fixin’s for a salad for dinner. She glanced into the family room and saw 5-year-old Allison reading to her 3-yr-old brother. She would read the page and then show him the pictures, pointing out how the words captured the pictures. Angie sighed and grinned as she continued making supper. She just witnessed a glimpse of quality family time.
Hank was playing catch with his son, Henry, in the back yard, after coming home from Henry’s Little League baseball game. Mandy was on the swing as their mom walked out to be with them.
“Push me, Mommy,” Mandy pleaded.
“All right, all right. I’m coming. Don’t get all in a tizzy.”
Mandy giggled and asked, “Mommy, what’s a tizzy?” as her mom started pushing her.
Across the yard, Hank pretended that Henry was throwing the ball too fast and it was hurting his hand. Henry sighed, smiled, and commended, “Yeah, riiight.”
Here, everybody’s together. They’re having fun. It just happened, a moment of quality family time.
After their usual, Sunday afternoon, scheduled family planning meeting, the Wilsons finalized their upcoming family vacation. Everyone was heard and each got something they had lobbied for that was within their time and financial constraints. On Saturday morning, they had all pitched in with the weekly housecleaning. Working together, dividing up responsibilities according to age and ability, they got the whole house straightened in only two hours. Dad was actually right with his tired, old “more hands, less work” trope.
These two snapshots are examples of the category of quality family time that is planned time together.
Keep in mind several obstacles to quality family time. While each of your family members need their private space, holing up in their bedroom for long periods of time is an obstacle. As the parent, you might negotiate a block of time where they can be alone. Quality family time is where your children learn social interaction skills, emotional intimacy, sharing, and bonding, all of which will serve them well as adults.
Also, in our pervasive electronics, computers, and cyberspace, kids will gravitate to these activities if allowed. Establish family rules. For example, no more than 2 hours of electronic gaming and TV time per day, and that is only after chores and homework are completed. No electronics (such as Ipads and phones) during family meals. Oh, and eat dinner around the table together. My kids still tease me about promoting “pleasant conversation” during meals. Research shows that, back in the day, families gathered for 15 meals per week, out of a possible 21 meals. Nowadays, families gather on average for only 3 meals per week. Being too busy is not an excuse. Make the time. Eating together is a great time to nurture quality family time.
Achieving the goal of creating quality family time together will serve your family well. Blessings, Jon