"Your children need your presence more than your presents." - Jesse Jackson
The quote above as well as the tips below originated at Parent Hacks in today's post from guest writer Leo Babauta. As a father of six (yes that's at least twice as many kids than the national average) Leo knows the stress of trying to juggle relationships with work while trying to find a few moments to himself.
Among the top tips I particularly liked:
- Make the kids your priority. Build a short list (4-5 items) of priorities that you want to truly focus on in your life. Bring kids to the top of your list and reject other interests that detract from time you spend with them or the other priorities on your list.
- Do Less. The old adage, "Less is more" couldn't be more appropriate. Take on few commitments and focus on digging deeper into the quality of those commitments.
- Schedule kids-only time first. With the potential for a calendar of activities overwhelming your week make the time you spend with your kids the first entry each week. The rest of your commitments will need to take a back seat.
- Learn to say no. Saying yes to everyone and everything that stops at your door is the quickest way to activity overload. Setting boundaries around the time you spend with your family is an important step to saying no. When the people around you know what the boundaries are they tend to abide by them. No boundaries, no time.
Leo's remaining tips are worth another few minutes of your time. I love the connection that his tips have for middle school parents.
At a time when both kids and parents are transitioning into an unknown sea of possibility and opportunity the potential for overload couldn't be greater.
One tip of my own to share that fits neatly into the three core ideas (Confidence, Connection and Challenge) for thriving during the middle school years:
Create a vision. By imagining how you want your family to be in the days, months and years to come you will begin to plot a path for realizing this vision. If your vision is focused on building stronger relationships and appreciating the people closest to you then the possibility of taking on a laundry list of outside commitments won't become a concern.