We live in a world that is always pulling for our time, energy and attention. We have phones that connect us with loved ones, but at the same time give hourly score updates and emails from work. We have jobs that bring us security and money, but if we're not careful, can create distance from those in our homes. We have children who need help with homework and rides to and from extracurricular activities. With so many things demanding so much from us, how do we make quality time for those with whom we share our life? Here are a few simple things you can start doing today to help strengthen relationships with the people in your home.
Limit time with electronic devices
. Smart phones and laptops aren't bad, but how we use them can become problematic if it's in excess. When your spouse or child walks through the door, make efforts to put away or silence devices that may distract from having meaningful conversations. Ask them about their day and practice truly listening to their answers. If they see us sincerely trying to invest in their life — even for just a few moments each day — they will feel more valued and secure in our relationship with them. Here are some tips on how to be a better listener.
Smile and make eye contact
When your son is telling you about the funny thing that happened to him at school, don't just give him an "uh-huh" while you load the dishes. Look into his eyes and give him a smile. It'll help remind you to slow down while letting him know that he is what matters most. Other things can wait.
Show more physical affection
Jürgen Sandkühler, head of the Centre for Brain Research at the Medical University of Vienna,discovered that hugging a loved one can reduce stress, fear and anxiety as well as lower blood pressure and improve memory performance.
We all carry around our own burdens and worries. Sometimes all it takes is a long hug or tender kiss from those we love to ease our anxieties and send the message that we are not alone in our daily battles.
Random acts of kindness
. I can still remember the year my mom asked each sibling to be a "secret pal" to another family member. We spent a week doing random service for that person, whether it was doing one of her daily chores or sneaking a favorite candy bar into her sock drawer. It taught us to look outside of ourselves and strengthened our unity as a family.
Calendars can fill up so fast during a single week. Be careful not to allow lots of good things to take precedence over the most important thing — our families. Carve out quality time for each other. You can do this by designating a certain night each week as "family night," giving each child their own date night once a month, making dinnertime more of a priority — not a last minute thought, or simply by getting family members involved in projects around the house. It doesn't really matter what you do but that you are consistent with your efforts in showing the people in your life that they are what matter most.
If you feel like your family bond could use a little TLC, practice a few of these tips today and remember these wise words from Family Advocate Dieter F. Uchtdorf: "In family relationships, love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time."