Family first: How to make your home life top priority
Feel caught in the crossfire between your job and family? Trying to find a balance that works? Doctor's orders: Take a fresh look at your priorities on a daily basis.
“When patients come in stressed and overburdened, one of the first things I ask them to do is look at their to-do list and help them sort out the ‘needs’ from the ‘wants,’” says Nancy Caldwell, a family nurse practitioner at the Banner Health Center in Loveland, CO.
New parents can especially get harried because they assume that even with children now in the picture, their house must look picture-perfect all the time.
“But it is OK to have a toy or three on the carpet,” says Caldwell.
“I say instead of worrying about what if the neighbors show up and my house is a little messy, take the time to go out for a walk instead,” she recommends.
Work your plan
But more free time won’t automatically translate into more family time unless you make it a priority, say the experts.
“Family time can easily get lost in the chaos of everyday life,” Caldwell warns. “You need to plan it and work at it.”
In fact, setting aside a specific amount of focused together time can ease the stress you may feel when you don't allocate your off-work time well. Fun outings like an easy hike through a local park or just hitting the local ice cream shop can be time-efficient bonding, better than hours spent disconnected from one another in front of the TV or smartphone in separate areas of the house.
Re-think the chore list
You can also try incorporating family time into everyday tasks like meal preparation that have to be done anyway. Give everyone a job at dinner rather than trading off days, so you’re all in the kitchen together on family meal nights. Or, get all hands on deck for yardwork and then spend an extra half hour tossing around a football or frisbee when you’re done.
It may not be the most efficient way to get things done – but you’ll all be in it together.
“Best of all, if you have little ones in the house, they will love the feeling of being big helpers,” Caldwell says.
Three ways to squeeze in more family time
- Prioritize your to-do list, eliminating anything that’s not a “must”
- Set aside a few minutes of “me time” every day to re-energize yourself.
- Exercise and eat a healthy diet to keep up your energy level.