Is your family’s overbooked schedule getting in the way of day-to-day happiness? When I scroll through the years of parenting in my own personal memory bank, many of the happiest moments for my family were the times we took a break from our busy, daily lives and simply enjoyed each other.
You don’t have to wait for vacations, or unexpected snow days to make sure your family has time to create lasting, happy memories.
Here are eight tips for finding a little more balance and a lot more happiness for the people you love.
1. Measure It
Let’s face it, we measure virtually everything from how much time our children practice their piano lessons to their time spent in front of a computer. Have you ever measured how much “fun” your family has on a daily basis? Take a week or two and using whatever measurement system works for you, document how much fun and happy times your family is actually having. The results will likely surprise you!
2. Define It
Does your family have a mission statement, or a shared set of values to live by? When my children were young, we created a large “family crest” which integrated all of our shared values – things like “People will feel welcome in our home,” or “We will have fun everyday!” This was a valuable exercise because it gave us a common set of principles to refer to as we all navigated the complexities of our days.
3. Schedule It
When was the last time you simply scheduled “Fun” on your calendar? In my family, we would regularly schedule “Family Fun Time” between 5:00 and 7:00 pm every Sunday night. The best part was allowing each family member to plan the activity on a rotating basis (how else would we have ended up in the backyard, in old work clothes enjoying a paint war if not for my then ten-year-old!).
4. Celebrate It
This one I credit to my own parents, who weren’t necessarily wealthy, but knew how to celebrate and did so each and every day in big and small ways. They made it a part of our daily lives to celebrate something that happened to one of us. My folks instilled the importance in recognizing the good things in our lives. And, yes, one single candle in a bowl of ice cream, in my family, was a celebration!
5. Talk About It
One of my favorite things to do each and every night as I tucked my children into bed was to ask them one, simple question “what was the best thing that happened to you today?” Their answers were as varied as the stars in the sky and I loved hearing each and every one. I also loved the tradition of ending each day with reflection and an acknowledgement of what it was that made us happy.
6. Embrace It
We all need serendipity in our lives. Serendipity morphs into unexpected fun so be flexible as a parent. Surprise your children often. Create adventure in their days and never underestimate the joy when you leave a bucket of water balloons on the front porch with a note to your kids that says, “I’m in the backyard waiting. Be prepared to get wet!”
7. Monitor It
Don’t go overboard with this, but every few months, repeat Tip #1.
8. Express It, Show It, Live It
The fastest path to a happy family? It starts with you. Be happy. Show your happiness. Model for your children your own positive, grateful outlook towards life and the people in it.
Your kids will follow your lead and they will reflect that happiness right back onto you.