After a long day of work we are always happy to meet up with our family, but too often these moments of joy and relaxation are transformed into such of quarrels and tensions. Preparing the dinner, doing homework, tidying up your room, taking a bath, etc. are all part of it. I would like to share my story about how our family has turned these moments of tension into such of happiness. It worked for us, so why don’t you try?
When I come home from a stressful and tiring day at work, I just want to slouch down on the couch and watch my favourite Netflix show, as well as top it off with a quick meal. That’s all!
But here I am being a mother of two. Basically this dream program is nothing but just a dream. The reality is different: When my little ones come home from school with an overflowing energy, excited by all the beautiful things they had experienced and discovered and barely managing to wait until they come home and play with me, I don’t exactly tremble with excitement.
“Mum can we play a game? Mum look, Mum, Mum, Mum” … “Not now children, I have to prepare our dinner and you have to do your homework” – this sentence was the beginning of the end. Very quickly we all became stressed and angry at each other. They kept me away from preparing dinner in peace because doing the homework inevitably rhymed with creating another argument.
I had to find a solution so that our precious family moments at the end of the day were real and full of happiness. In the end, I realized that I was putting all my energy into my work and that my children were getting only a few leftovers of it that clearly were no longer enough. I wasn’t the mother I wanted to be.
So we took actions, we sat down and talked together about how we could improve this moment of reunion. That looked beautiful. Everyone expressed their needs and frustrations, and together we agreed on a course of action that took into account each person’s desires and needs.
Here is the routine that we set up together and that helped us spend the evenings as a family:
1. As soon as we got home, we would dive into the moment of taking “a break for ourselves”. It’s very simple – everyone spends 15 minutes to themselves. The rule is i) we do not disturb the others and ii) we stay silent. For my part, I go to my room and do some breathing exercises, as well a little meditation. It helps me refocus and allows me to take a break from the energies of working and go back to being available as a mother. Children too usually go to their rooms, play a bit or start doing their homework. Now they too are particularly fond of this moment of calm and peace.
2. At the end of our little break, when I am available and feel serene, I put myself at their disposal as each has their own turn. They use this moment as they wish, as they either tell me about their day, play a game with me, or ask me to help them with their homework. This time is also limited to 15 minutes. I would have liked to be more flexible on it according to their respective needs on the day but if I do it all turns over to “you spend more time with my sister” and etc.
3. We then start preparing dinner, which has become another big one for me. The children, having had their own moments and their moments with me, are suddenly much more relaxed and most of all, much more inclined to take care of themselves in either finishing their homework or playing alone or together, the latter of which they prefer more. Often one or the other comes to help me prepare the dinner while chatting a little.
4. During the meal, we established another routine that is to tell each other, what the worst and best part of our day was. Before this game I didn’t know how their day really was, as they just said it was “good”. Since then they spontaneously started speaking of their special moments, which allows me to get to know what they really live through every day. For them it is also helpful, as it allows them to understand what I have done and realize that I have a life too and that I am not just a mum.
5. As for the end and after the meal, we spend time together instead of everyone going about their own business. Either we play co-op games, we go for a walk in the neighbourhood or we draw together.
As you can probably imagine, ever since we set up this little routine, we have been spending many pleasant evenings together that are full of real moments of exchange. After all this we all go to bed happy to be in the family that we are a part of and ready to dream of sweet things.
This routine is very simple and can be incorporated by anyone in their daily lives. And yet we were in quite the hardship before we came up with it. Often we just have to stop for a moment, look at what the problem is and change our strategy so that peace and serenity can take hold of our lives once again.
I invite you to join me Sunday morning at my Zen for Monday workshop and have a moment to just yourself. You will learn lots of tips and become more Zen as a person and as a parent.