In many — if not most — of today’s households, life is hectic. The hustle, bustle and chaos starts early in the morning and continues well into the evening. School, work, errands, sports, cell phones, computers — here are many activities and objects to fill our days.
But in the midst of the madness, you might be craving to slow down, find more ease and connect on a deeper level with your loved ones.
In her book Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life, life coach, speaker and author Renée Peterson Trudeau helps families identify their values and priorities, savor the present moment and really connect.
Below are three tips from Trudeau’s Nurturing the Soul of Your Family for helping you reconnect to your family.
“Is technology bringing your family closer together or driving you farther apart?” Trudeau writes. For many families, it’s the latter.
Trudeau surveyed American and Canadian families on what sabotages their sense of familial harmony, and the number one response was technology overuse or misuse.
Trudeau suggests talking to your partner or entire family about what’s most important to you. Consider what fun activities can replace your tech time. Consider the times you’d like to be unplugged.
She also shares a slew of great ideas for cutting down on screen time. These include:
- If you watch TV every night, stop watching for just one night. Then keep going, until you reach about three or four days without TV. During these nights, you can read, listen to music, spend time outside or play games.
- Instead of having the TV on in the background, turn on classical music.
- Have technology, including cell phones, turned off during meals and other important family moments.
- Move the TV from the family room to the guest room.
- Let your kids watch TV only on the weekends. Determine the number of hours for screen time from Friday to Sunday, such as 2 to 5 hours.
Reducing your tech use will be tough at first, and no doubt will trigger complaints. But once they dissipate and you sink into your new routine, you might be surprised by the results, according to Trudeau.
“My brother, a thirty-seven-year-old technology hound and dad of two, recently discovered his three-year-old son actually loves going to the library – just as much as he used to like playing Angry Birds on dad’s smart phone.”
2. Create a family values statement.
According to Trudeau, “Each family has its own personality, which is a reflection of its shared values.” She describes your values as attitudes and attributes you consider to be most important.
She suggests this technique for families to sit down and think through their values.
- Have each family member brainstorm their top three to five values.
- Let each person share their list.
- Work together to create your final list of three to six values. Make sure that everyone feels heard and that your list reflects the family’s consensus.
For instance, Trudeau and her family created the following family values statement, which stays on their mantel: creativity; openhearted communication; loving support; playfulness; and health and vitality.
By doing this activity, you can see whether your current life reflects your values. Trudeau and her family transformed their living room so it embodies their values of creativity and playfulness. The only furniture it contains are huge orange and aqua pillows, artwork and photos on the walls and a piano and other instruments.
Make sure your list feels like you and feels comfortable, instead of “foreign or lofty or the way you ‘should be.’”
3. Find spiritual renewal.
A regular spiritual practice grounds us, helps us navigate everyday challenges and helps us stay awake to our lives, Trudeau writes. A spiritual practice can include a range of activities, such as meditating, praying, volunteering, spending time in nature, writing, painting and playing with small kids.
To find your own and your family’s spiritual renewal, Trudeau suggests setting time aside to contemplate these questions.
- “What gives my life meaning?
- What is one thing I do for spiritual nourishment? What is one thing my family does?
- To me, God (or the sacred) is …
- I connect to God (or the sacred) through …
- I feel most peaceful when I …”
Have your partner and child respond mull over these questions. When everyone is done, schedule a family night to share and discuss your responses. Trudeau suggests using your own judgment to figure out the best way to do this, depending on your kids’ ages.
Such conversations can help you uncover how you’d like to incorporate spirituality into your life. For instance, Trudeau and her family host a “back-to-school” blessing every year for the kids in their neighborhood.
After a special meal, everyone gathers on the back porch. The kids say and write down a one-word theme or intention for the year. Then all the parents “shower them with positive qualities — focus, compassion, the ability to try new things — for a healthy, enjoyable year.”