In modern society, there’s no shortage of tasks, projects, or hobbies to consume one’s time: A yard needs to be landscaped. A child’s participation in a sport becomes more frequent. The opportunity arises to help out at a school or church event. A couple decides to start a home improvement project. Or an employee receives a promotion and has to put in additional hours at work. There’s no shortage of values, interests, influences and advertisements encouraging us to ‘do’ more.
We often enter into a new venture with enthusiasm, looking forward to the end result. However, as the project drags on, becoming more laborious than expected, couples and families often report these extra side projects cause strain in their relationships. This isn’t surprising as the time required for side projects is most often subtracted from our time with our loved ones. Rarely does one take the week off of work to finish a home improvement project. More often than not, these extra tasks are squeezed into evenings and weekends, reducing the amount of time families have available to spend with one another.
Reports indicate the number of hours parents spend with their children has decreased significantly from previous generations. There are also more dual income households than before, posing additional challenges for couples to have quality time together. In fact, dual career couples have been found to have 28% less leisure time than single earner households.
When taking on additional tasks, it’s beneficial to establish boundaries around sacred family time. For example, setting aside a date night or a game night with the kids that’s off limits to any work can foster connection. Families also benefit from creating ways to involve their children in their projects in age appropriate ways whenever possible, instead of excluding them. Although this may slow productivity, it does wonders for reducing stress within the home by fostering a team spirit instead of creating disconnection from one another for the sake of the task.
With an ample supply of projects to choose from, ‘doing’ can become a habitual way of life in which slowing down and simply ‘being’ can become foreign to us. With so many projects focused on the future outcome, such as how fantastic it will be when the kitchen is finally remodeled, there’s value in slowing down and being present in the moment, in noticing what is already fantastic in our lives.
It’s when we’re present and tuned in to the current moment that we can connect on a more meaningful level with our partners and families. Just think of what could transpire if you and your loved ones set aside four hours together to accomplish absolutely nothing! These spontaneous, shared moments with our loved ones are what people consistently report are the most significant moments of their lives. They’re the glue in relationships and the memories people cherish for years, long after they’ve forgotten about their beautiful new landscaping.
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