Fall is just the season where we begin to pull energies back into the home and family gatherings. When time is spent indoors more that out, and holidays keep us tethered to family. It can also be a time of unavoidable stress because of new fall schedules and the demands of school and work. I have a few tips that may help encourage family harmony in the face of life’s events.
1. Speak kindly to each other. This sounds so simple, but many times when we are under stress or just busy, we can often make remarks or use a tone that evokes irritability in others. If you do happen to use an unintended tone or language that sounds hurtful, excuse yourself. Let the other person know that the tone or language wasn’t intended to be harsh, and that you apologize. An apology goes a long way in my house.
2. Let each member of your family know what it is that you value in them. Don’t take the contributions of your family for granted. If they are kind, generous, giving, helpful, or supportive, let them know.
3. Value the uniqueness of each member of your family. What characteristics do your family members have that you find interesting, unique, or even wonderful? Celebrate the positive about those you love.
4. In so much of our lives we are evaluated or are competing with others (and even ourselves sometimes). Take time to just spend time doing non-competitive activities like walking, watching movies, and games that involve chance or where you learn something about each other (creative games like Charades, Apples to Apples, etc.) without making winning the most important thing. We honestly can make anything competitive, the effort is to make it non-competitive! Sometimes dividing a family into teams can make it more fun and take the focus off of winning.
5. Use Sundays as a day to gather and meet about the week ahead. Often schedules are overloaded and can be overwhelming as a result. Planning the week ahead and checking in with family members as to how they are doing, what is coming up in the week ahead, as well as, highlights and “low-lights” from the week past, can be a way of connecting and preventing potential problems or pitfalls in the coming week.
6. Have a plan for managing stress. We all have a certain level of stress, and not all stress is bad. But too much stress can lead to distress, and this takes a toll on the body, the mind, and relationships. Exercise, creative pursuits, fun activities, and positive relationships all counteract the effects of stress.
7. Realize when to say “No”. Everyone has a limit, what’s yours? Don’t take on too much to do, and know when to stop. Keep this in mind with your children too. Children need down time and so do parents. Many times kids are taking on too many after school activities, and combined with increased school work this can lead to distress. Down time is time to do whatever you like, quiet or otherwise.
8. Find some Quiet Time daily. This is just 10 minutes of time to think, relax, sip on a cup of tea/coffee, and be still. This is unplugged, non-electronic time. Encourage your children to find quiet time, or still time. They could spend time in their room, laying on their bed, snuggling with you, walking outside, creating a craft, writing, drawing,or even looking out their window. Just 10 minutes to bring the mind back to quietness.
9. Spend time in nature. So often we are caught up in our worlds of work, sports, and school we forget the beautiful force of nature and all the tranquil moments it provides to release stress. Science has shown us that sending time in nature slows down the heart and improves one’s outlook. And to think, it is just outside our door.
10. Think positively and look for the positive in others. This is hard, but every moment has it’s silver lining. Most of our irritations are small and inconsequential. If you can find it in your heart to forgive and move on with whatever hurt you have experienced, it will lighten your load. Sometimes our inner space gets completely taken up with negative feelings and thoughts that actually end up hurting ourselves. Most people do not intend to be hurtful, they make mistakes, as we all do. Find the beauty in others and they will find it in you.