I’m so excited to have you here with me to discuss another topic in our self-care mini-series. Today we are going to actually learn about “together care”. I know, I know! These posts were all about self-care, but one of our five pillars is love and relationships, so we are going to find out how we can bring “together care” into our family and friendship ties.
I think it’s safe to say that I am SUPER passionate about this topic. Alright…yes…I’m passionate about a lot of topics, but this one hits home…literally!
In our house we have a very strict rule that if you can’t get along with your family, you obviously don’t have the energy to get along with your friends and that’s how play dates get cancelled. That even goes for cousin time.
If you’re not married, then your focus should be on your parents or those who helped raise you, siblings, etc. Once you are married, it’s hubby first, kids second, immediate family members third, and then everyone else. This might be tough for you to wrap your mind around, especially if you have a brand new baby in the house, but for reals … spouses should come first.
My husband literally has told the children that if the house was burning down, he would grab me first. I think he’s mostly joking. When he says it, the younger kids always give him a shocked, I can’t believe he said that look, and the older kids always roll their eyes. The point of him saying this though is that he loved me first and that I’m crazy important to him. Kids need to hear that and to be honest I need to hear that. For our whole family to know that mom and dad’s relationship has such a strong foundation is key to raising kids in an unstable world.
I have a quote that hangs large and proud on a wall that my family can see frequently. It says,
So how do you do this?
How do you use “together care” to make your relationship with your “one and only” and your kiddos at the top of your priority list so that the moments don’t just slip by?
I’m going to share with you a few ideas on how we can implement simple little acts that can have a huge impact. These ideas can be used with all your loved ones, not just your spouse. And again, let me point out that this is not the end-all-be-all list of ways to practice “together care”, but it’s a good place to begin.
Let’s start off with:
This means without the TV or cell phones. I’m sure plenty of you are around your people quite a bit, but how much of that time is spent without distraction.
I’ve got to tell you, I’m not the best at this.
Sure we homeschool, but that doesn’t mean I’m always 100% present for my kids. I run several different businesses, am active in my church responsibilities, and keeping our house in somewhat working order tends to consume most of my time.
And when I’m not doing those things I’ve been known to hop on the good old Instagram just so I can check-out for a bit. But when I make it a priority to spend quality time with my hubby and kiddos, you would think that it was the best day ever for them, even if it’s just to play a game of Go Fish with my 10 year old.
A couple years ago a study was done to find out how much time families actually spend together. What they found was crazy! American families spend just 37 minutes of quality time together per day, while on average individuals will spend over 3 hours per day on social media. What’s even sadder is that the quality time in some families is even less. And all this does is leads to family disconnect, negative childhood development, poor family fitness, and a lack of family communication and trust.
So what are you and I going to do?
If quality time is something that doesn’t come naturally to you or maybe you’re like me and have just gotten out of the habit, you might need to schedule it in. Schedule it on your calendar AND your kid’s calendar. Your kiddos need to be just as prepared as you, as they might be resistant at first, especially teenagers.
This needs to be a screen free time. Even when you are maybe having some down time in the evening with the hubs sans kids, put away the phone, tablet, or computer. Will this feel awkward for you? Most likely, but do it anyways. If it feels at all awkward theirs a good chance you need this sort of time without distraction even more.
And again, I’m horrible at this! Unless you count good quality time together as watching reruns of The Office as you snuggle in bed without your phone, which if you would ask me I would adamantly say YES!
Once you’ve got the time set aside and the screens put away, find something fun to do.
These could be simple things, outside or inside things, spend money or don’t spend money things.
You get to decide.
And why not involve your family and find out what they want to do.
And these would all be great do together as a whole family or maybe you might think about picking one of these things and having some solo time with just one kid and rotating those times with other children. These ideas are also great to do as a couple. Don’t forget, that spouse relationships should come first so make weekly date nights a priority, even if that means putting the kids to bed a little early and making smore’s over the stove and eating them in a fort you built in the family room just big enough for two.
The point here is to foster relationships. Build love, trust, and respect. Don’t risk squandering your moments on frivolous time sucks that will only have you looking back with regret.
As I’m watching my oldest daughter approach her last year of high school and quite likely her last year at home, I’m finding myself super emotional and wondering how much more I can squeeze in before she leaves. I get teary when I think of these fleeting moments of togetherness. Of course I’m excited for her and her upcoming adventures, but OH how I wish I could just have a little more time.
So I want to use the time that we have to just be present together. To take in every moment and create memories that we can all hold on to.
Ok. I better stop before the waterworks start.
What are some things that make your people happy?
Maybe it’s a little note on the bathroom mirror or in their lunch box.
Maybe you offer to take over a chore that the other person normally does.
An out of the norm hug or kiss can speak volumes, especially if your person’s love language is touch and they know that yours is not. That is how it is with my husband. His love language is 100% touch. Mine is 100% not. So when I go out of my way to give him a huge hug, lay a big kiss on him, or maybe squeeze his butt as he’s walking past, you would think that he had just won the lottery.
It really doesn’t take much.
All you are doing is letting them know that you see them and love them, so show them. When talking about kids, showering their bedroom door with hearts taped to it with reasons why you love them would be awesome. Or picking up their favorite treat at the store that they don’t get very often.
Can you see where I’m going with this?
Such simple ways to show you are thing of them and care about them.
Most times when my husband or kids come home, my response is
“hey” -> insert a very unenthusiastic tone.
If they are lucky I will add a “how was your day?” most likely while still typing on my computer.
What would happen if I changed my responses and attentions the way my dog does when I come home?
My little shitzu, Jango, get’s so excited when any of his people come home. He jumps up and down, won’t leave your side until you reach his favorite spot on our bed where you’re at his level and you pet him and talk to him like you’ve been gone for years. Once you’ve given him the attention, he actually could care less where you go in the house, but in those first few critical moments when you walk in the door, you better be prepared to give him you’re full attention and in the way he wants it.
And the funny thing is, we do it!
We say in a ridiculous baby-ish voice, “Jango, did you miss me? I missed you! How are you? Were you a good boy?”
Where does that even come from?
That is so not my personality, nor my husbands. I expect it from the kids, but we do it too. What in the world has happened to me? I own a tiny dog that wears clothes and I talk to him like he’s a baby… but I digress.
My point is, what if I treated my family when they came home the same way my dog treats me. Do I jump up and down and beg to hear about their day? Do I have a special spot where I go to catch up because it feels like it’s been forever when really I actually just saw them that morning?
That is what I should be doing.
Do you do that?
I know I need to be better at it. Maybe not the jumping up and down part, but more enthusiasm than my current “hey” response to when they get home. Again, I think this comes down to putting aside what I’m looking at or working on to be fully present when my family members walk in the door. I want them to feel excited to come home. They should clearly know that I want them there and that I can’t wait to see them and hear about what they went through during the day. Talk about instilling love, trust and respect.
How can you practice “together care” with communication? Let me just say that you can’t assume that you know how your spouse or kids are feeling and on the flip side, don’t assume that they know what you want either. Unless you are proficient in telepathy, you’re going to need to start talking to one another. A few principles should apply though when communicating.
You’re basic Golden Rule stuff here.
I actually think it’s even more important to be respectful and kind when you are angry. Chances are pretty high that in these family relationships that there will be differing opinions.
That’s to be expected.
So don’t be too shocked when those pop up.
Come at with patience, love, and understanding. Always remember that the relationship is far more valuable than the opinion. There will be a good chance that you will disagree with a view or decision a loved one makes, but they are human and so are you. Just like you don’t agree with them, they don’t agree with you.
So what will you do?
You might need to agree to disagree, let it be and move on. Of course, there are certain situations that could arise that might need you to set boundaries, but that’s a whole other podcast. But for the sake of communication, the goal is to talk about your needs and wants in a loving, patient and respectful way.
Be an active listener.
When the other person has said what they are feeling, repeat back to them exactly what they said. Not only will it help them to feel heard, but will give you a greater understanding of what they are actually saying. You should try it. It might feel a little weird at first, but with some practice it will become second nature and bring your communication skills to a whole other level.
Pretty sweet stuff!
I cannot tell you enough the importance of building strong relationships through “together care”.
I really do feel that the only way to change your world is to start in your family and that’s going to take some effort. But I hope that what I’ve shown you is that it doesn’t need to be a huge effort.
By implementing these ideas, with consistency and a little time, you’ll be on your way to greater love and relationships that will last and will become a little bit more than they were the day before.
And make sure to check out the next post in this series on self-care where we’ll learn all about self-care in our careers. Go check it out!