According to research, the most popular New Year’s resolution made by people in the UK is to exercise more. But who wants to go out running in miserable, dark January? And who wants to shell out for gym membership fees just after Christmas?
The easiest resolution of all is a lowly twelfth on the resolution list – after ‘spend less time on Facebook’ and ‘learn a new language’ is spending more time with your family.
Our time is a finite resource – much like a bank balance – and every day we subconsciously make decisions about where to invest our time. A small wodge goes on getting ready in the morning, a big wodge is spent at work. Increasingly, the wodge we give over to family time is getting squeezed smaller and smaller. We’re doing less together, more apart, and our balance is the same at the end of the day.
But if our time is finite, how can we invest more wisely in the family time account?
First, plan the work
Rebecca West from Happy Starts At Home says the first step is to imagine the life you want to live. Close your eyes and think about what quality family time means to you – who’s there? Where are you? What are you doing? How does spending that time together make you feel happier and more contented? This will ensure you’re really invested in succeeding as you’ve had a taste of the benefits.
Steal back time
When you need to tighten the household budget you look at places you could save some cash. Do the same with your time – do you spend half an hour flicking through your phone when you get in from work? That probably isn’t making you happier, and you could transfer that wodge to time together as a family.
Perhaps there are other small wodges you could steal back – preparing a few meals in advance at the weekend will free up time in the evenings. Or multi-task your time – turn the dog walk into a family activity where you tell each other all about your day.
I know, everyone hates organised fun. But when you’re starting out with a new resolution, the key to success is being specific. If you pledge that you’ll sit around together at home and talk, the temptation of mobile phones and separate rooms and just-getting-ahead-with-the-cleaning-for-a-while will creep in and before you know it, family time has disappeared.
But if you decide that on Saturday you’re going to go to your local museum together and then go out for lunch, you’re more likely to honour the commitment. Take it seriously: add it to your diary like you would with a business meeting. It’s just as important.
Being over-ambitious is the quickest way to fall flat and end up with a failed New Year’s Resolution. If you’ve never owned a pair of running shoes, deciding to complete a marathon in 2016 is probably foolish. The same goes for building any habit.
Perhaps to start with, you commit to just one 20 minute wodge of family time each evening. Put your phone far away and really engage with each other for that short time, whether it’s playing a board game or going for a walk or even cooking together. You’ll soon find that the 20 minutes becomes part of your routine, and you can start to increase it.
Here’s to 2016 – the year of family togetherness.
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