That is the national marketing campaign slogan for Extension Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS), and it’s what FCS Extension Educators all across the nation teach on a daily basis. We share information, education and options that help address life skills. “Raising kids isn’t child’s play, Eating Right can be a tall order, and Spending Smart takes dollars and sense but we can help you do all of these things so that you and your family may be Living Well, today and in the future”. For many, Living Well means finding a good balance. A balance of both discipline and love to help families thrive, a balance of healthy foods to maintain strong bodies, and a balance of income and spending so money is there when needed. Finding a balance can be stressful, especially if you are trying to balance everything all at once! It takes time, and there seems to be less and less time in the day as we seek to balance work and family.
This naturally leads to the question, “What is a family to do?” While it may be difficult to “leave work at work”, families have developed different methods to make the most of limited time together. Here are few ideas co-workers and myself put together, see if these ideas might work for your family as well!
*Routines are a basic strategy. Having a structure will help them know what will happen when, and what the expectations are. For example, when we get up in the morning, we eat breakfast, get dressed and get ready for the day or in the evenings we help get dinner ready, eat together, do homework or chores, have story time and bedtime. Whatever you’re routine is, children like the security of “that’s what we do as a family”.
*Eat together as a family. Turn off the TV, computer and telephone and let everyone help in the meal preparation and clean up. When we have conversation around the table, even if it’s only 20 minutes or so, it’s time to connect with what’s going on in their world, its planning for the next event and it’s been shown to build many assets in children that will help them be successful in school and in life. The average child spends seven hours watching TV a day, but just 5 minutes in conversation with his parents. If you could spend 7 hours with your child (or parent) what would you like to do?
*Establish a weekly family time. Try to hold this time as a quality time in which the family does something everyone can be involved in and enjoy. Try to make it an active, healthy time. It doesn’t have to be an expensive outing (remember, we want to spend smart!). Some of our best times together have been planting seeds, going on bike or horse rides, swinging in the back yard, painting, dancing to silly songs, or baking in the kitchen.
If you don’t have ideas, just ask the kids, they will come up with things that they would like for you to do with them!