One of the biggest regrets working parents say they have today is the lack of time they have to spend at home, with their families. Increasingly, working parents claim that there is no balance in their work/life balance.
As a parent, I can relate. When my first child was born six years ago, I could never have imagined that in first grade he would have after school activities four days a week. Four days a week! Somehow, it doesn’t seem to be too much for him. Really. He is with his friends and doing things that interest him. If it seemed to be too much, something would change. I promise.
While both my husband and I work, we have flexible schedules that allow us to take turns driving and participating in activities with our boys. So far, with a six-year-old and a four-year-old, we are able to enjoy a pretty decent amount of quality one-on-one and whole family time.
I say that knowing that approximately 25% of families spend an average of only 8 ½ minutes together a day. No joke.
One of the best and easiest ways to spend quality family time, we often hear, is eating together. Of course, with my children, it takes them less than 8 ½ minutes to eat a meal and they are asking to be excused!
At my house we do eat together, probably five to six nights a week on average, but do those few minutes at the table each night provide the kind of family relationship I want, expect, imagined all those months leading up to and during my first pregnancy? Absolutely not. I do not want my parenting skills to meet the average minimum expectations. That is not fair to me, my husband, my children individually or my family as a whole.
The easiest way around this, I know from my own experience, is to find activities we can enjoy together. At first, it may sound impossible. What could a pre-reader four-year-old, a first-grader and two nearly 40-year-olds share as common interests? Well, it is simpler than you might think. We all share the desire to be together. That is first and most important element. It is the foundation on which our family is built. So far, we all still like each other and enjoy basking in the coziness of our family.
So what do we do? We play games. Children love to play. It’s what they do. It’s what they are supposed to do. It is the sign of a healthy child. We adults should play games, if we don’t. Games are a great stress-reliever. And they’re fun. They make us laugh. They make us feel good.
At my house it is anything from Chutes and Ladders or Trouble to backyard games like croquet, bean bag toss or bocce. Anything that four people of varying ages, abilities, reading levels and attention spans can enjoy together is a keeper. What I love most about these classic backyard games, besides being outside in the fresh air, is that there are rules, but they can be bent to accommodate the youngest of participants. After all, it’s not about who wins or loses, but that you play the game!