Achieving Balance in Your Family
February 12th, 2013 posted by FamilyCorner Staff
In today’s world, there are many demands placed on our time. As parents, it can be overwhelming to try to juggle work, school, social, and civic obligations. Add to this the desire to offer extra-curricular activities to our children, and soon the fabric of our lives is stretched too thin. Often, the effects are insidious, slowly sapping our quality of life and our sense of success. There are ways to avoid such a drain on our families’ sense of well-being, and they require much less sacrifice than you might think.
Schedule a reality-check The first step to overcoming imbalance in your family is to add up all of the time you spend on various activities. Be specific. If you are a car fanatic, how much time does it take to wash and wax your wheels each week? If your kids are into sports, how many hours do you spend at games and practices? According to their teachers, how many hours must your kids spend doing homework? How much time is spent in front of the TV or computer? Once you have added it all up, you’ll be able to see where your time goes. Now is the moment to ask yourself if the way you spend your time reflects your family’s values.
Define your roles Corporate America has found a way to encourage their employees to be more productive by training them in time-management techniques taught by the likes of Franklin-Covey and others. One of the methods taught in these classes is to define what your roles are, and prioritize your activities based on these roles. If it works for IBM, then it just might work for you. Your list may look something like this:
mother wife daughter sister friend insurance executive school volunteer political activist pianist For each of these roles, you can review how much time is spent reaching goals in that area. Often, you’ll find that one or more of these roles is getting neglected in favor of another. By looking at how you spend your time, you’ll be able to see what areas need more of your attention.
An Ounce of Prevention Once you see which roles are getting the value of your time, you’ll be able to see problems before they begin. If you are spending most of your free time working on fundraising for the PTA, you might not have the time to devote to your other roles. Though you may see your activities with the PTA as contributing to your role as mother, your children might not see it that way. Perhaps scaling back your involvement and replacing that time with a game night with your kids would bring you closer to them. Look to your children to see if your priorities need rearranging. Like the canary in a coal mine, the little ones show signs of discomfort first. Pay special attention to any behavioral problems that crop up. Those can sometimes be attributed to a need for more attention.
All family members count Just as some activities tend to get more attention than others, so do some family members. This is especially true in families where the mother feels that she must sacrifice her needs in order to take care of her children’s needs. In reality, the more each member of the family feels valued, the better the family unit works as a whole. Like the water in a life-giving pond, a mother cannot continue to supply much needed sustenance to her family without being replenished herself. This means that family members must have equal access to the activities that nourish them. If playing sports is important to your kids, they surely must each have the chance to participate in them. But they’re participation shouldn’t mean that you forego your cherished reading group. Fathers too need to outline the activities that are essential to them, whether it is a few moments each day to read, or weekend golf outings. Involve the entire family in setting goals for the year. Be sure that no one is left out.
Making budgets and setting boundaries may not seem like enjoyable tasks, which may be why so many families are overwhelmed these days. Yet, when you consider that time is our most precious resource, it makes it imperative that we spend it wisely. Many problems, from behavioral issues to stress-related illness can be avoided if we make deliberate choices about how we spend our time. Having a sense of balance and harmony in your family may very well be the most important goal you set this year.