Are you looking for ways to prioritize your family? Regardless of how busy or hectic your life is, there is always a way to make time for those things that are most important. Here are 6 helpful ways to put your family first, according to Empowered Living Ministries founder Jim Hohnberger.
1. Let Them Talk About Their Lives
What do your spouse and kids think about throughout the day? What brings them joy? What brings them sadness? As you seek to build a more meaningful world for you and your family, it is important that you know each of them intimately and their dreams and desires. Talk to them in the morning before you go to work. At the end of the day, ask them how their day went and truly listen and hear what they have to say. You’ll learn what’s important to them and you can share your wisdom in a positive not a demeaning way. They love you caring for them!
Be careful not to project yourself onto your spouse and kids. Let them speak freely and find delight in both the differences and similarities that you share. Use the differences to have open, non-condemning discussions. Use the similarities to encourage them in the right paths.
2. Communicate with Your Supervisors the Importance of Your Family.
Prioritizing your family means putting other important things in your life to second or third place. Imagine how valuable they will feel when you put them before work projects? God will give you wisdom if you seek His will of what is more important. Too often, work creeps in and distracts us from our families in a big way. The unsaid message to your wife or child is they are not important to you, they are in second or third place. Without being unprofessional, be sure that your direct supervisors are aware of how important your family is. In the 21st Century, more and more employers are willing to discuss flexible work hours or paid family leave if you show a high work ethic during working hours.
3. Leave Your Work at Work.
If you’re working in your head as you drive home from work, you are likely going to be distracted at home. There are many men that are physically at the meal table, but they’re mentally elsewhere. Totally unaware of wife or children sharing with him. You need to be present with your family while you are home to truly appreciate the time you spend together. Jim Hohnberger strongly recommends using your commute home as an opportunity to “get your head in the game” of being present with your family. Think of all the things you love about your family, the memories you have created, and the new memories you look forward to making. Tomorrow you can solve the work issues and the Lord will give you just what you need.
4. Make “Appointments” with Your Family.
We never hesitate to revolve the hours of our day around work appointments. It is, therefore, reasonable to do so with your family if your schedule tends to be hectic. Leave work late only on rare occasions. Phone your family about your tardiness just as you would a work appointment so that they do not worry about your whereabouts. This says your family is important to you.
Plan special activities, including day trips or summer vacations, with your family. Make those plans non-negotiable. Work calls you to do this or that and you say, “I’m sorry I have an appointment then. Can we do that at this other time.” Include family time on your calendar and set up reminders, if necessary.
5. Disconnect from Your Devices.
One of the best ways to prioritize your family, according to Jim Hohnberger, is to have everyone turn off electronic devices during family time. Set an hour or two of your evening time to do something fun. Tag, hide and seek, soccer ball, or just face to face talk time on what’s important to them at their age. This is a vital connection time that awakens joy, gratitude, and engenders love. Give everyone your undivided attention and look for ways to interact with your family away from screens.
Board games, family walks, cooking together – these are just a few interactive activities that can help your family live in the moment with one another. Find a hobby or activity that everyone enjoys in the family such as hiking, skiing or golf and find time to spend on the activity as often as possible.
6. Take Family Vacations
Vacations can be one of the greatest family building activities that you can find, asserts Jim Hohnberger. Jim and his family have traveled to more than 20 countries around the world and during those trips, his family’s bonds have grown closer than ever before. Many trips were work-related, but he tried to always plan a few extra days just for fun family activity after the meetings. The family did not get resentful of the meetings, because they had all of him consistently afterward. Patience and trust are engendered. Vacations allow for extended periods of time with the family which is not always possible with busy day-to-day lives.
Trips with your family certainly don’t need to be expensive to be memorable, rather a time where your family spends building memories. Whether you are traveling to another continent, or just driving a couple of states over to spend time skiing or in a national park, the important thing is that you are partaking in the activities as a family. Making fond, enjoyable memories is vital to family.
Jim Hohnberger concludes that your family is the most important aspect of your life and while making time can be difficult in the busy lives we lead; it is all worthwhile when you can see your family grow closer together.