10 Ways to Refresh Family Relationships
© Beverley Paine
All too often we take the relationships in our families for granted. Traditionally mothers have generally been the relationship managers within the family who made sure that everyone is getting on nicely with each other. I always resented the fact that without any training for this role I found myself thrashing about in the deep end: one of three similarly aged siblings all of whom went to school I found my own childhood completely lacking in modelling for this phase of my life. I could calculus and understood how electricity works and knew the inner workings of a black hole, but had no idea of how to cope as a parent and wife. Now I'm old and my children are grown up - now I've "been there and done that" - I feel much better equipped!
One thing I've discovered as a parent, if you don't pay deliberate attention to the relationship side of families, then you're going to have a mediocre family life. If you make it a priority and give it regular, positive attention, it will thrive. Homeschooling made it a lot easier to pay attention as we had ample time in each day to pause and really listen to each other, rather than hurried snatches of conversations squeezed in between 'must do' activities. We didn't suffer from the stress derived from the building tension at the end of the day, when everyone is trying to share their experiences all at once. It's hard to be attentive on what the kids are saying while driving home from school, juggling instant snacks while preparing nutritious meals in the kitchen, or frantically looking for lost socks or homework first thing in the morning. Homeschooling allows for a much saner approach to life simply by giving us time to pace activities throughout the day.
If you're feeling a little frazzled and less than happy about the state of relationships in your homeschooled family then maybe it's time to do a "spring clean". To bring a fresh new energy to your family life try doing all or some of the following:
8. Make sure you build time into your day or week for you all to have time alone - learning to be by ourselves is an important aspect of socialisation. And make sure that dad gets time to be with each child, and for you to spend time with each child, and for mum and dad to have time alone together. You may need to set up an intentional schedule and stick to it religiously for a few weeks or months if this is an area you've neglected or haven't considered that important in the past.
9. Stop taking life so seriously... Accept that, no matter what, as a parent you're doing the best you can in each and every moment given your present situation and circumstance. When you reflect on the day remind yourself of the many small successes you experienced as well as all the things you could have done better. It's always easy to be super critical in hindsight. Pat yourself on the back: you deserve it! Tomorrow will present many opportunities to create, mend and build on what you began today...
10. Play together. Turn off the television and play games in the evening, share a book together, or play hide and seek in the dark! Get down on the carpet and play like a child every now and then. You'll be amazed at how much fun it is!
Beverley Paine is a mother of three young adults and a prolific writer of homeschooling articles. More articles and essays can be found in her books, available from the Always Learning Books online bookstore.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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