I found in my pile of materials a little booklet called Three Simple Ways to become A Happier Family put out by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and I was intrigued with the title. The three areas were (1) making time for each other, (2) improving communication (3) emphasizing values.
I readily acknowledge that it can be difficult in our fast-paced world to find time for the family, but, as this book acknowledges, “when you spend time together you can strengthen bonds, share feelings, teach principles, and learn to respect and enjoy one another.
The book encourages us to “determine what is most important in your life, examine how you currently spend your time and then allocate enough time to those things that are most important.”
One of the things it recommends is to do things together. As a single mother of eight children under sixteen, I felt swamped on a daily basis. I learned to include a child or two in the things I had to do, and then the key was to make the needed activity fun.
I had a grown son remind me that the one-on-one time he spent with me planting 90 trees and shrubs at an apartment building I had purchased was a special time for him. I watch him now seek to spend time alone with one of his children each week, and frankly when he called me at 8 o’clock and said he would be at my house in a half hour to take me to a concert, I was delighted. What a special night that was – a date with just him.
I’ve learned a lot from my children and one of the things I wish I would have done more of is spend one-on-one time with them. I did as this booklet recommends, and took them together to each other’s musical recitals, basketball games, etc. We did a lot of work together in the yard and at the apartments, and I remember combining the work with some fun. The booklet recommends that the family take a dinner to a neighbor or participate in a community service activity, eat meals together, and participate in hobbies and activities you all enjoy.
Now as a grandmother I delight in finding one-on-one time to give a grandchild a long ride in my motorized chair or just read a story and talk to a child. Parents who are too busy miss out on the wonder of those conversations.
One-on-one time works with teens as well as 2-year-olds. When most of my children had grown up and were off to college, we took some youth into our home, one at a time, to see if we could help them. What was the key to making a difference in those lives: one-on-one time where I could listen and listen and offer praise and encouragement. Those were joyful times.
I know families that play games together whenever they get a chance. Frankly, our family just talks. We never seem to get enough. I remember sitting on a mound in a vacant lot and watching the sun go down. What a special time that was with the children I was with. The dishes were probably still in the sink, but I felt that I was doing what was really important.