When my life gets busy it’s hard to keep up with our daily home life. When we were a family in crisis it was nearly impossible. All I wanted was to find balance and create a happier home, and I had no idea how to do it.
I was so caught up in putting out fires and worrying about my family that joy and happiness seemed impossible. But slowly one strategy at a time we were able to bring back the laughter.
Here are 7 Tips For a Happier Home:
1. Treat the people you live with like company.
Have you ever noticed that when company comes you make an effort to insure they feel welcome and comfortable. But when it’s “just family”, do you go get a snack or a drink and don’t bother checking in with anyone else to see if they might want something too? Why is it that the people who are closest to us, see our ugly side all to often?
What would happen if everyone in your home began treating each other as if they were a guest? Try it. Set aside a Saturday morning, just a couple of hours, and do an experiment. Set a timer if you must and, for that pre-determined amount of time, everyone has to treat each other as if they were a guest. Make it a game and have fun! Would you just change the channel on the remote when a guest was watching something? Wouldn’t you offer them the comfy chair or the best piece of cake? And surely you wouldn’t walk out with a tall glass of liquid goodness without offering them some, right?
The funny thing is that after this “experiment” you will realize how great of a mood everyone is in. Helping the people you love, treating them like a guest AND having them reciprocate, fosters smiles and happiness that last far longer than the time you invested. Now imagine if you could incorporate that into your everyday lives. I’m not talking “sappy”, I’m not talking “kissing booty” I’m talking about treating each other better than you treat the people who aren’t most important in your life. Imagine how quickly the entire atmosphere would shift in your home!
2. Allow your spouse/children to have a voice.
If you are anything like me, you like to be the one who is in charge and sometimes that means you dismiss suggestions from the other people in your household. But trust me, not allowing your children or your spouse to share in the decisions and the responsibilities of your home only leads to frustration and hurt feelings for everyone involved! You all share the space you are living in and each of you deserves to feel safe, welcome and heard! Not to mention that if you aren’t controlling everything and you don’t have to be “keeper of the box” then it leaves you more time to enjoy the things you love!
In our crazy busy lives, this may be the hardest thing to do. But trust me, taking the time to share a meal together, sitting down at the table accomplishes so many things. It allows you to touch base and talk with one another about what is happening on a daily basis. It forces you to slow down for a little bit and connect with the important things in life. AND it ensures that everyone gets to interact with one another in a meaningful way.
Don’t get me wrong, “dinner” at the Davis’ wasn’t always pretty, and more than once (ok maybe LOTS of times) one of us didn’t want to be there. But even when we could barely stand to look at each other and you could cut the tension with a knife, sitting down together often was just what turned things around.
Sometimes it was dinner, sometimes “family breakfasts” and other times a snack was all we could “get together” for. But by taking the time to sit down every day brought us closer together and made us deal with stuff that would have been pushed under the rug had we not done so.
4. Have a mandatory monthly “family night”
My parents started this years ago, and I can still remember my friends making fun of us whenever we had to say “No, I can’t go out because we have family night tonight”. However many of my favorite memories of growing up were hanging out watching a movie together, or playing pictionary with my brothers, sisters and parents instead of the typical friday night with friends. Likewise my kids roll their eyes and say how “messed up” it was when family night rolled around but it is one of the first things they share in the dorm when they are missing home.
It doesn’t have to be a big ordeal but it has to be a priority for EVERYONE. No matter what else may pop up, attendance isn’t optional even though, like dinners, during the teen years this can be challenging. However, lasting memories, closer bonds and the knowledge that your family is a priority to each of you is priceless!
5. Talk, listen, communicate, then listen some more!
Now both of my kids will tell you that my inability to let something go can be annoying. However, I really believe that not allowing my children (or hubby for that matter) to shut me out when things were tough was a huge factor in helping us all learn how to work through the challenges that life presents.
I remember when there was a particularly rough patch in my daughter’s life and she didn’t want to talk about it. Frankly, all she really wanted to do was lock herself away in her room and listen to depressing music, but I was having none of it. She was mad, she yelled, she said it wasn’t any of my business…and I just sat there and listened. I told her that since I was her mom, her life WAS my business whether she liked it or not. And after over an hour of me just sitting there, and being open when she was protesting, she broke down and we were able to actually talk about it, work through and process the hard choice that she had made to end a long-term relationship with someone she had cared about.
Long story short, your family needs you to listen, even when they don’t know they do. While it may be easier to let them be, keep going back and opening up doors and inviting them to trust and confide in you. You know them best, and can help them in ways that no one else can. But remember when they come to you, especially in those teen years, judging is not allowed. In most circumstances the situation has already passed, and what they need from you is guidance, boundaries and understanding. The time for a lecture ISN”T when they are opening up to you!
6. Take a “technology timeout” once a month
Technology, while it makes things convenient, stops us from interacting and being together. I looked around the other day when my son was home on spring break and while we were all in the same area of our house, we weren’t together. My husband was on the computer, researching information on his current project, my son was on his laptop with headphones in watching something while texting friends on his smart phone, and I was tuned into the latest marathon of Cupcake Wars (no judging!) and texting various people. I think over a 2 hour period of time the three of us didn’t say anything to each other. We didn’t have interest in what the other 2 were doing. Why? Because we had technology to interact with.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of being together but not “being” together when technology is involved. Don’t want to watch the same show? Just go to a different room. Not able to go over to a friend’s, Skype or Facebook with them and it’s like you are together anyway.
I suggest that once a month (separate from family night) you make all technology taboo. Collect the phones, ipads and laptops, turn off the TV’s, unplug the video games and do something that doesn’t plug in! Better yet do something together, but if that’s not possible, just go a whole day without using technology. You just might find out that there is a new hobby or activity that you all enjoy!
7. Twice a month, anonymously do something nice for each person in your home
In this case, surprise factor really goes along way! Maybe it’s making their bed while they are getting ready in the morning, or setting the table when it’s their turn. Even doing one of their chores when you know they are really busy. By anonymously doing something nice for each person in your home, not only do you make their life just a little better, but you walk away with a secret that makes you feel amazing!
With a few simple tips, you can create magic in your home!