How to create balance in your family life
Family Life Today
Covid-19 has upended most of our lives. If we are lucky, we have been able to stay home, reconnect with family and enjoy some serious downtime, safe in the knowledge we have still been paid the majority of our wage. If we are unlucky, we have been anxious, struggling financially and emotionally, or worse we have lost a loved one.
However, amongst the gloomy predictions of Great Depression-like economic slumps, there is hope and opportunity. Opportunity for us, individually and as a society to change and create a better tomorrow and greater balance.
What is Truly Important?
In fact, a recent YouGov survey showed that only 8% of Britons want life to return to ‘normal’ after the virus outbreak is over. 42% of participants said they value food and other essentials more since the pandemic, with 38% cooking from scratch more. 61% of people are spending less money and 51% noticed cleaner air outdoors, while 27% think there is more wildlife. Two-fifths said there is a stronger sense of community in their area since the outbreak began and 39% say they are catching up with friends and family more. We are being reminded of what is truly important and meaningful in our lives. The only question is whether we will head those lessons and insights and use them to create something better or whether we will all go back to the way it was.
Time to Compromise?
A New Balance…
Let’s forget about normal or new normal and instead focus on ‘New Balance’. Here are five practical steps to help make this ‘new balance’ a reality in your family life. Share these tips with those around you and help them create the space to turn these into regular habits: ?
- Take time out, every day to get outside, ideally in nature or a local park. Walk, pay attention to what’s going on around you. Don’t cut yourself off by listening to music, audiobooks or podcasts. Instead, pay attention to what’s around you, notice the trees, listen to the bird song, witness the change of the seasons. Take this time, even if it’s just a few minutes, to just ‘be’. Listen. Think. Spend time in silence.
- Master your mornings: Start your day from a place of positivity. Prepare the night before so those mornings can include a shared breakfast. Everyone in the family says what they want to achieve that day and takes a minute or two to share what you are already grateful for in your lives. Use that positive start to get into a positive mindset.
- Take ten or twenty minutes out of each day to read an inspirational book. For example, any of the three Meee in a Minute books (life, family and work). Each one has 60 one-minute nuggets of wisdom including life hacks, advice, insights, science, short exercises, and thought experiments to ensure you start the day with positivity and confidence. Another great book is A. C. Grayling’s ‘The Meaning of Things’ which had a profound impact on my life. There are dozens of great books so pick those that resonate with you. Many are also available as audiobooks.
- Eradicate unnecessary activity. Ask yourself does this activity add value and make you feel better or does it detract from your life. Lockdown has taught us what is really important and spending money and endless shopping don’t appear to have made the cut. Take some time to consider what’s really important in your life. If something doesn’t add value, eliminate it or seek to cut down that activity in your life. Focus on what matters professionally and personally. Focus on what makes you and your family happy. And make these things the priority.
- Connect with people you care about – friends and family. At work seek to find ways to maintain some of the flexibility that became essential during Covid-19. Honour both the human being and the employee. Find ways to maintain a connection and to find a balance that works for all the important parts of your life. At home, talk to each other, eat together as a family and maintain the strengthened bonds facilitated by the pandemic.
The Silver Lining
We have a real opportunity to create something better, not just in our families, but our communities and hopefully society. This could be our silver lining where we finally wake up to the reality that what matters doesn’t cost money. What matters is not the nice car or expensive overseas holidays, or the bigger house. It’s the micro-moments of love, trust, gratitude for the simple things, kindness, a smile from a socially distanced stranger, laughter with friends, sorely missed, the plaster on a bumped knee or the joy of a hug, finally allowed!