Feeding Leftover Time To Your Family

A quick look into the refrigerator at my house right now would reveal spaghetti, fajita meat, baked fish, and an assortment of vegetables wrapped in plastic wrap or foil. When first prepared they were just fantastic to the taste buds, but after being reheated once or twice, they have been relegated to the status of leftovers. Those things you eat when there's nothing better available, or you just need something to take to lunch. Don't get me wrong. I'm extremely frugal, and more than willingly will consume these meals for as long as they last... but they just aren't my first choice for a memorable dining experience. They merely get the job done.

I find that quality time with family, even in small doses, is one of the greatest sources of renewal to my mental, emotional, and even physical energy.

With respect to time management, I think too many people look at time with their family in a similar manner as leftovers. They expend most of their energy attempting to be fresh for work, wanting to give their best to every assignment and task given in their 40+ hours per week. With almost every ounce of focus and energy poured out at work, they come home with nothing but the leftovers for their spouse and children. Maybe I am wired differently than most people, but I find that quality time with family, even in small doses, is one of the greatest sources of renewal to my mental, emotional, and even physical energy.

If you are sensing that your family is tired of the leftover time you have been feeding them lately, try some of these new "dishes" with them:

  • Focus on the beginning of the day. With today's crazy schedules in the afternoon and evening, some of your best chances to spend time with some family members may be in the morning. Eating breakfast together, taking a walk, or just sitting with them while they get ready for work or school are possibilities.
  • Plan your weekly menu in advance. Look for opportunities in your schedule to do things with at least one family member per day. Even if you're on the road and not at home, set up a Skype of Facetime chat. Use some unique spot where you are staying from which to chat so they can get a better glimpse into your world.
  • Set the example when it comes to technology. Set up technology free zones and times in your home-and stick with them. Let them see you more interested in communicating with them than who wants to communicate with you through social media or email.
  • Reorder your Saturday. Years ago I would attack my personal task list like a banshee on Saturday, hoping to get 34 things done before 4 PM. Then I would march into the house, tired and grimy like some hero. The only person I wasn't a hero to was my family. They had done their own thing during the day and so many opportunities to connect had been lost. Now my Saturdays are much different. I start my day doing things with one or more family members, and only ask for a couple hours at the end of the day to accomplish my own stuff. On some occasions I may even get up early and get them done before they are awake. It's amazing how limiting the time I have for my own tasks forces me to prioritize more effectively. And the memories we make are just priceless.
  • Run away from home. There are so many potential distractions at your home. Find places you can go and talk or have fun as a family. Local parks or lakes, nature trails, or even just open spaces. The key is to find a place where you have the chance to show your family members that they are a priority for you... and not just a passing thought.

I hope you'll notice that none of the suggestions I have given are costly or significantly time consuming. Sure, an occasional vacation or big trip are ways to show the family they are important to you, but more often than not, it's not what they will remember most. It will be what you served to them on a daily basis. It's time to throw out the leftovers and start fresh with your family.

How could I give my family more of my quality time and energy?