There is nothing more valuable in our home than the time we spend together. With work, school, fun activities, chores and a busy social schedule, it can sometimes feel like our down time is scarce. The truth is, that’s not going to change. As the kids get older, our family dynamic is only going to get busier.
Husband and I have been talking more and more lately of the value of uninterrupted, distraction-free time that we want to spend one on one with each of the boys, as a family of four and as a couple.
To help us make sure our time is used wisely rather than wasted, we’ve decided on a few new family rules that we are instituting. We are far from perfect and we know at the outset that these rules won’t always be fully enforced, but we agree that we want to adjust some of our habits and this is how we plan to start:
1) No cell phones in reach during family time. We are not holier than thou. We are fully admitting that we spend far too much time with our phones in our hands. It’s an addictive distraction and we agree that we want to curb it because moments spent reading something on social media are moments we’ll never get back. Life – and specifically our kids’ childhoods – are way too short for that. This means that other than answering a phone call, which really only come from close friends and family members, and are generally fairly infrequent, we will set our screens aside during meals, in the mornings and evenings through the week, and when we are doing fun things together on the weekends.
2) Screen time will be a privilege. Sometimes it feels easiest to turn on a show when the kids need a distraction; I’m not going to deny that. But when we look at our weeks and how much time we spend apart, we recognize that we’d rather spend our hours together interacting with each other – doing puzzles, reading books, hanging out in the playroom. We’re going to reserve weekday TV time to our Pizza Friday Family Movie Night ritual and keep Treehouse turned off Monday to Thursday.
3) More one-on-one time. It’s sometimes hard to find an activity that is well suited for both a four year old and a two year old. When big brother was the only one, he got undivided time and we worked with him on developmental milestones like learning the alphabet, counting, colours and shapes. Now, with double the
trouble kids, we tend to simplify activities to keep them toddler appropriate (meaning big brother gets bored) or we leave little brother out when we’re trying to do big kid stuff. In our case, with two parents and two kids, we have the opportunity to divide and conquer with age- and interest-appropriate fun for both.