How can we increase our family togetherness
when we are so busy?
Welcome to the Intentional Family Moment. Take a moment with us as we discuss our thoughts on your family questions, then join us in our weekly challenge as we work together to be more intentional in our families.
This is Episode 10, hosted by married Coriaria founders Brent and Michelle. This episode is brought to you by Everflect – your couple’s council assistant. Learn more at Everflect.com.
Today’s question is: How can we increase our family togetherness when we are so busy?
Given that this is a podcast about having intentional family moments, I think that making dedicated time is certainly a great starting point. A lot of times it’s tempting to try to have more spontaneous interactions, and those are definitely good and certainly an important part of life. If you’re feeling a need to have more togetherness, especially during a busy season, that requires being intentional and scheduling that time in a dedicated way.
Also taking a look at why you’re busy. I don’t want to dismiss people who are in situations where their schedules can’t overlap, and they need to provide for their families. If you’re busy beyond that, if you’re too busy to spend time with your family, then you’re too busy. Look at what you’re doing and see what can drop out. There’s most likely something out of line in your priorities.
What’s the best way to go about deciding what needs to go so that you have time for your family?
There’s a metaphor that I heard described on this very topic in business school. If you imagine yourself juggling (because we all feel like we’re juggling all the time) – different things, activities, responsibilities, and commitments – each of those things is a ball that you’re juggling. Is this a rubber ball, or is it a glass ball? The glass balls, when they drop, they’re going to break. You’re going to have to drop all the balls in order to fix it, and you may not be able to fix it fully depending on the situation.
Rubber balls, on the other hand, when you drop them – they bounce right back up. Different things are going to change in different moments. Sometimes a relationship with a family member is going to be a glass ball. Other times, it’s going to be a rubber ball. It depends on what’s going on and what the priorities happen to be. Family relationships tend to be more glass than rubber, there are going to be different times and seasons. We need to make sure we ask ourselves “Is this a glass ball, or is this a rubber ball?” This can be a good mnemonic to determine whether you should be willing to drop that thing.
Fittingly enough, this podcast is that for us. This is the first time we’ve been late on this podcast, and that’s because we needed to spend some quality time with our family. That’s why this podcast is late. Even though it’s hard, because we’re Type-A people, we want to do things on schedule and stick to certain things. Most people would be surprised at how often it’s really okay to let go of certain things, either temporarily or permanently, so that you can take care of those relationships that matter the most.
I think something that’s helpful in evaluating the choices that we make is to try and be mindful and re-center on the current moment, and then to non-judgmentally cast your mind forward into the future and say, “How is this decision that I’m going to make going to affect things tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or next year?” If you’re in a situation where dropping something will cause you to lose your job, that’s going to cause you to wonder a bit about where you happen to be with things. If you are going to make a decision that’s going to pull you away from time with your children or your spouse – especially when they’re young – those days go quickly, and they don’t last. You don’t get them back. What are you going to prioritize that’s going to be the best long-term impact?
And to make sure that those things are put first. There’s that analogy about big rocks and little rocks – which we happen to write about in the Everflect Couple’s Book. If you don’t put those big rocks, like your relationship with your spouse or kids, in the jar first, then they won’t fit in the end. If you put those big stones in first, then you can put little ones around that. If you do it the opposite way and you fill up that jar with little tiny rocks, and squeeze in a big one after that, it’s not going to fit. To make sure you’re putting your family first, schedule out family time when you start your month. Schedule out date night, so that when things come up that say “We need you to work on this for work”, you can schedule around those things. You already know that you have quality time with your family. Beyond that, if your time is very limited for whatever reason, you can make those little moments matter. If you only have a couple minutes together, you can be really intentional with those couple minutes – whether that’s talking together in a more deep way than you normally would, or making it special by taking your kid somewhere for those ten minutes that you have together. You can really make it matter.
What would you say is a good goal for this week?
Taking the time to look at your schedule and slotting in an intentional space of family time. As an addendum to what you just said, having that time does not mean that it has to be structured. It can be great to have specific activities, but one of the biggest challenges we face in society presently is that we over-schedule. Frequently, we have too many things that we’re trying to do all at once. Unstructured, unscheduled time, when there is nothing in particular going on, but you’re also being mindful and disciplined in not just turning to your phone or turning on the TV or something like that, but actually being focused in how you apply that time is also important.
As far as challenges go, having that scheduled time that’s unstructured would be a great challenge for all of us to take this week.
In our family, it’s already set in stone. Monday evening is family time, Friday evening is couple time. Hopefully we have other times during the week, and we tend to have other times during the week, but we know that those two times during the week are always going to be centered on those things. Sometimes it’s really structured and we know what we’re going to do, other times it’s less so, but we always know who we’re spending time with.
The meal times that we have as well fill that. We have breakfast and we have dinner together. We all are at the table, spending that time. Even with young children, it’s important to have that well-structured time to have those conversations and to model that behavior.
Thank you for joining us! Now go home and change the world by being more intentional with your family.
Challenge: Schedule unstructured family time on your calendar
If you have questions you would like us to discuss in a future episode, submit them here.