This is an issue that’s been plaguing me for a while. Maybe it’s not an issue so much as a question.
How do you define quality family time?
Here’s why it’s on my mind. Every once in a while, I like to get together with friends. It might be with moms for a playdate, or women for a girls’ night out, or other couples for some wine drinking, I mean, socializing. Sometimes I’ll even organize something formal, like a Mardi Gras party, or more recently a Thai dinner party.
My most recent foray into socializing came when I sent out an invitation to a pretty wide group of friends here locally for a Nintendo sponsored event. In partnership with the American Heart Association, they were offering a 3 hour event with lots of food and hands-on game playing, with some fun and education and, of course, free stuff to go along with it.
(Note: I totally loved this event and will tell you all about it tomorrow!)
As with this event and my own parties, all the food and drink is provided. You simply show up and enjoy yourself. Whenever possible, I make it kid friendly so that the whole family can come and enjoy.
So why is it so hard to get people to come?
Let’s just assume that it’s not because I’m an awful cook or people really don’t like me. I mean, I guess those things could be true but I figure my husband would clue me in if that was really the case. Here are some of the reasons I typically hear why people can’t come:
- My son/daughter/baby/husband is sick
- We’re going out of town
- We’re at a basketball tournament
- My son has a soccer game
- My daughter has a dance recital
- We have a birthday party to go to
- We’re really busy because we’re getting ready to…
Let me start by saying this. Those are all COMPLETELY VALID reasons not to attend. And so is this one: “I just don’t really feel like going.” I know I have plenty of times where I just want to have some down time to do whatever I feel like in that moment.
But it occurs to me from the many responses I get that people have full schedules. Very full. In fact, it’s exhausting to hear all of the things they have planned on a weekend.
I just wonder if this is how people really want to spend their time. My thoughts here have nothing to do with whether or not they come to my party. It’s really more about the choices we are making as families. I can’t imagine having to “check my calendar” every time someone asked me if I wanted to grab a coffee.Even if I want to have lunch with a friend, I often have to book it weeks in advance, only to find that they are having an unusually busy day and have to cancel.
I think about this as it relates to family time.
I once worked with a woman whose son was very actively involved in Pop Warner football. It turned out that his team was actually very good and they almost always ended up going to a football tournament every year. Over Thanksgiving.
One year, they all drove to Florida for Thanksgiving. The next year, they piled into a mini-van for Alabama. I guess if they don’t mind spending the holiday on the road and they are still enjoying the family time together, who am I to say anything? But I guess for me, I have the fondest family memories of cooking Thanksgiving together at home, smelling the turkey, waiting for relatives to arrive. These are memories I want to create for my son.
I notice that as kids get older, their activities become more and more time-consuming for the family. Often, Dad is off at the soccer game with Jimmy while Mom is off at cheerleading practice with Janey. Mealtimes together are a rarity. Times at home to just be are a rarity.
Supporting your kids and their interests and hobbies is absolutely a good thing in my book. In fact, I wish my parents had done more of it. But is it ever too much? Are we scheduling our lives away and forgetting the joy of spontaneous play?
I’ll admit that I tend to be pretty easygoing with my schedule. A little too easygoing. But I like that we can wake up on a Saturday morning and decide to go to the beach for one last Indian Summer day. I like that we can come home after a long day and decide to all go get Mexican for dinner. And I like that we can decide to take a full blown family vacation in less than 3 weeks if we get the whim.
I know we don’t have the constraints of school right now. And my husband and I do have flexibility with our professional schedules. But as we were sharing that spontaneous Mexican meal as a family, my husband and I really started to think about our family time and the choices we make.
Making pizza in the kitchen can become special family time for us.
I’m happy with those choices and I hope we stay this way. Balance is something I’m always working towards in my life. I’m not sure I’ll ever get there but we can dream, right?
I’d love to know how you spend your family time and how you keep the right balance in your life.