• Rethinking Quality Family Time

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    Saturday mornings might be my favorite time of the week. There’s no chaos of the usual weekday routine, no one’s in a rush to get out of their pajamas, and no urgent emails to respond to. It’s a great time to leave your phone on its charger and catch up with the family about the week before, the week ahead, and really connect. Today we’re joining my friend Etienne and her two boys for Saturday morning donuts and a simple storytelling game.

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    April is Alcohol Responsibility Month and this post is in partnership with #TalkEarly, a parenting movement with Responsibility.org that encourages early and thoughtful conversations while modeling healthy behaviors.

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    Our assistant editor Erica recently read Laura Vanderkam’s I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time and has been raving about it to our teamIn this book, Laura Vanderkam asks 143 women who make over $100,00 a year and have at least one child under 18 living at home to make a time log for one week and then analyzes their logs. Her main takeaway from these women’s lives was that they were mindful of their schedules, and while that seems so obvious, her tips on rethinking your time are super helpful.

    Erica found three really helpful tips from the book:

    Block your time in 168 hours (a week) instead of 24.  “People fall into the 24-hour trap, where perfect becomes the enemy of the good. While it’s great to have daily rituals, with a busy life it’s easy to talk yourself out of things to do because you can’t do them every day.” (source) So if you don’t have that quality family time everyday, don’t beat yourself up!

    While we were shooting for this post, Etienne here was just lamenting about how she was away on a business trip that past week and missed her son’s 8th birthday. I was impressed with her healthy attitude about it(maybe she’s read the book?!?!). She realized it was just about finding quality family time in a meaningful way at a time that did work for everyone’s busy schedules.  They all took off to Santa Cruz later that day for a long weekend.

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    Quality family time can be whenever works for your family. “We often believe that the only parenting that counts is 10 a.m. on Tuesday if we’ve got toddlers, or 3 p.m when school lets out for older kids, but that’s not true. If you’re having family breakfast together, that’s great. It doesn’t have to be dinner to matter. If you’re laughing around the kitchen counter at night with popcorn, that counts as much as being there at 3:30.” (source)

    Don’t think you need to plan your time minute-by-minute! Vanderkam says “I have a few priorities for work and for my personal time, but not a minute-by-minute schedule.” (source)

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    When we’re not managing our time or connecting with our families in a meaningful way, do we try to fill that emotional disconnect with too much social media, alcohol, food, or tv?  Should I be surprised that my one year old is obsessed with eating/holding our devices when she sees her parents on them so much and her older siblings begging for them all the time? Yikes, I have lot of work to do! We had lot of discussion about it at the #TalkEarly summit this past fall and although modeling healthy behaviors can be difficult when we don’t feel like we are always the best examples, or don’t have things totally in control ourselves, there are always little places we can improve.

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    Quality family time, even if it’s not every day (thank you Laura Vanderkam for making me feel better about that!) can be as easy as a box of donuts and a story telling game every Saturday morning. This game Etienne is playing with her boys is super simple. Write a few story starters, just a word or simple line and throw them into a jar. Each person picks up a piece of paper and takes turning chaining a story together with the word they picked. You can have fun with it too. Add in really silly story starters like a team of ninja mice! and giant 8 scoop ice cream cone!

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    I’ve been happy to partner with Responsibility.org this year on this important #TalkEarly campaign. The organization is a national not-for-profit organization to eliminate underage drinking, and to promote responsible decision making regarding alcohol consumption. It’s purpose is to empower parents around having early conversations often with their children.

    Another thing I learned at the summit about having conversations with your kids about more difficult subjects like alcohol, internet safety, or sex, is doing a kind of pre-test. Instead of jumping into a lecture about one of those subjects, ask a few questions about what they might already know and then make any corrections and fill in their knowledge blanks. Then do it again and again. Having 10 one minute conversations is going to be more powerful than 1 ten minute conversation (don’t you love that?!?).  One of the big ah-ha moments I learned at the summit and think about it all the time!

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    What are some of your techniques for difficult conversations with your kids? What does your quality family time look like?

    Thanks to Etienne for letting us join her family last Saturday morning for donuts + laughs, and for Responsibility.org for sponsoring this post and inspiring more thoughtful parenting. Photography by Liz Stanley. 

  • 3 comments

    1. AlluraDerm Serum said… May 13, 2017 4:58 am

      My family members every time say that I am wasting my time here at net,
      except I know I am getting knowledge daily by reading thes good articles.

    2. bethany said… April 28, 2017 9:37 pm

      Such a great, thoughtful post. Love it!

    3. Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog said… April 21, 2017 12:22 pm

      Etienne and her family are so cute! She has a great system going on!

      Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
      http://charmainenyw.com

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