This is a copy of my article published in the city pages magazine (Kuwait)
Hope you enjoy reading 🙂
It’s back to school, back to routine and perhaps back to spending less time with loved ones than we’d like to. The summer vacation is coming to a close, so this means a new year, new challenges for both parents and children, spouses and families.
Let’s explore how we can create routines that provide us with optimal value, optimal quality time and minimal stress so that this new school year is one that we can look forward to as we focus on work and academics, but continue to cement the bonds we might have ignited during the summer.
If we were to be quite honest with ourselves we would all agree that much of our “free” time gets spent on our screens, whether they are our television sets, computers, iPads or mobile phones. These sophisticated devices, while meant to assist in organising ourselves, have fallen short in terms of taking us further away from our real relationships, away from meaningful face to face communication and it has also sunken us further into procrastination, and time lost.
Our lives have also become over active and busy, since busying ourselves seems to be a trend and a must in order to fit into today’s societal norms. There is a growing need to ensure our kids are kept busying themselves in school, extra sports and other extra curricular activities so that they do not miss out on life. They are rushed from one activity to another while we simultaneously rush around doing doing doing, racing here and there, squeezing in a million errands that need to be done.
Thankfully many people have realised that this busy- ness and over activity is actually taking us away from those we love the most. Much has been written on how we can create a balance within this chaos. Here are some tips that we can consider introspecting and applying in the hope of finding peace, calm and quality time amidst the hustle and bustle of school, homework, extra curricular activities, social and business commitments.
Here are 3 ways we can enhance, deepen and value the time we make and spend with our kids and families.
- Ensure restful sleep for both adults and children
When we are overworked and over stimulated our sleep is one of the first needs that take a beating. When we are sleep deprived our physical stamina and moods are compromised and this leaves us feeling groggy, miserable and unable to be our optimal best for ourselves and our families.
A good sleep routine entails sleeping at around the same time each evening and waking up at an early hour, ideally many have promoted the best sleep time between 10pm and 6am, which gives you a reasonable 8 hours of rest, and allows for your body to heal, and recuperate.
2. Unplug your racing mind from all the clutter
Many therapists agree that an important factor in staying focussed on family relationships, especially after a hard and busy day at work and school, is that one needs to mentally leave work at work.
This means that we need to prioritise our times and concertedly make time each day to refocus, gather our energies and direct them away from our work days and towards the home. We can do this through visualisations, imagery and physically closing work doors, school books or bags or the like with the intention of leaving them where they are and not carrying them home with you.
In doing so, we will be able to better connect with our kids, sincerely, and fully show interest in their lives and wellbeing and they will be able to feel completely connected to you, heard and understood. Being fully present and in the moment for a few minutes may prove to be more beneficial than partially present for a longer period of time and the rewards of this will be long lasting and deeply felt.
3. Unplug your gadgets, and plug into your communications
A rule during mealtimes or another preferable time that would greatly enhance the bonding between parents and kids, and families in general is that all electronics be turned off and placed away for a specific duration of time.
This means no texting, no downloading, no answering of phones, no facebooking and tweeting or responding to “important” emails. This is another way to enhance family ties and to fully focus on each other. No distractions, no preoccupations and no drifting into various realms of cyberspace. Just pure, real, heart to heart conversations, fun times and good laughs.
Imagine having a hectic day at work, knowing that coming home means switching off, relaxing, taking time out and recuperating. Knowing that when a school day has been a tough one there’s something to look forward to after that, knowing that the days chaos needn’t be dragged along with us the entire day. There are always good times, family support and hearty meals awaiting you at the end of a crazy day.
Wishing you all a fun filled, laughter ridden, consistently calm new school year, muddled in with some soul food and family bonding that will keep the year exciting, challenging and still rewarding.