by Mark Timm, CEO Ziglar Family
Thanksgiving is a few days behind us now, and for many of us, the kick-off to the holiday season included at least a few hours of quality time spent with family. I know in my home we were bursting at the seams with family all weekend —and we loved it!
Somewhere in the midst of the noisy, fun, almost-chaotic time we were spending together, it really hit me: what if families were this intentional about spending time together every week of the year?
Probably the number one complaint I hear from parents over and over again is, “I don’t have time to…”
Usually what follows is something they wish they did have time to do, like spending more time one-on-one with the kids, or eating dinner together, or dealing with increasing behavior issues in the home.
Here’s the uncomfortable reality: you do have time to do all of these things and more; you just don’t always choose to use it meaningfully.
Zig Ziglar said, “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have 24-hour days.”
I admit that this has been a struggle for me, too. After a long day at work, it’s just easier when I get home to zone out by scrolling through social media or watching a mindless show than to actually put some effort into anything else.
But if that’s what I do, or if that’s what you do, then how can we expect our families to be anything other than a bunch of disconnected strangers sharing breathing space under one roof?
You may have heard me repeat the saying that, to a child, love is spelled T-I-M-E. There is so much truth in that statement, and I think we all know it, but still we make excuses for why we can’t make that time for our family happen.
Mr. Ziglar was famous for asking, “Do you believe there is something that you could do in the next three weeks that would make things in your your personal life, your family life, your business life much worse?” Of course everyone can think of several things.
He follows with, “Do you believe there is something you can do in the next three weeks that will make your personal life, your family life, or your business life…better?
And then the kicker: “Do you believe the choice is yours?”
If you think you can’t make the choice to carve at least 30 minutes out of each day to do something intentional that will make your family life better, then you’re lying to yourself.
Look, I get it. You can’t change everything overnight. But you absolutely can start small, and you can start today. Here are three small changes to make today that can have a big overall impact on your family life:
Eat dinner together. If you cook, why not enlist some help in the kitchen from other family members while you prepare the meal? If you’re more of a take-out family, you can still eat together around the kitchen table. Spend time talking and listening to each other. Talk about the day’s highs and lows. This is not the time to consider your children a captive audience and lecture them—keep dinner table conversation light.
Manage technology. If you or your family members are nose-down into your phones constantly, you are killing any chance for connecting with each other. One obvious place to start is at the dinner table. There is simply no reason you cannot leave phones away from the table for the 20 minutes or so that it takes to enjoy a meal together. Away from the table, it should be an absolute rule that when someone is speaking to you, your eyes are on them, and never on a phone, tablet, or television screen.
Block some time off on the calendar for family fun. You schedule everything else, from soccer practice to piano lessons to play dates, so why not schedule time for your family to spend together? You don’t have to be elaborate with this time; playing a board game together or taking a walk are fun, inexpensive ways to connect.
If you make the choice to start today by incorporating these small but powerful changes into your family life, you’ll see that you actually do have some time to give to your family, and that the investment of that time is the most valuable investment you will ever make.