How much white space do you have on your weekly planner? If you're like most families, there's very few blanks. After school there are music lessons, sports practices, social and faith-based clubs, not to mention homework, chores and the don't forget time with friends either texting or on computer social sites like Facebook. What was supposed to "good" for us is actually weighing us down to the point of exhaustion.
If you read the statistics, kids today are inundated with more activities than previous generations and unfortunately aren't handling the pressures all that well. To our credit as parents, we feel that in order to be "good" parents we want our kids to have access to a wide variety of activities to broaden their horizons. We want to keep them healthy and socialized with sports, intellectually fulfilled with music while expanding their faith through church clubs and youth groups. It's almost like we are being held hostage by our own thoughtful intentions.
Our intentions are good, but how often does the family sit down for a meal together? Passing a double cheese burger and soda back over your shoulder just doesn't count! There is something inherently sound about shifting the focus back to the family.
If you're great about scheduling practices and activities, why not start penciling in a weekly family game night. It doesn't have to be fancy or elaborate, but grab a frozen or take-out pizza, couple of bags of microwave popcorn and a deck of cards like UNO can make for a great night of fun. If your family is not a card-playing group, there are lots of great games that will quickly become favorites like Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Scene It and even older games like Monopoly, Scrabble and Life have been updated to be more fun.
A nice afternoon picnic at Deanna Rose Farm in Overland Park is a great way to dig out of your familiar surroundings. Pack a frisbee, ball and gloves or some inexpensive kites and just go! The fresh air and beautiful green surroundings are a perfect way to catch up with each other and take a few pictures for the family album.
By pulling the family back together, especially during these changing times, you may be able to reconnect some of the lost opportunities to pass along your values and thoughts about the world around us. The benefit is two fold in that our kids will have the opportunity to bounce some of the ideas that they are working through onto us.
There is a battle for the precious amount of time we all have -- and the fact is that all of us have the same amount of it. Even if your calendar is full this week, take a night off and spend it with your family having fun. Be proactive about working your family back into your schedule. You really won't regret it!