The Family First Challenge
Set aside time to talk as a family, maybe over breakfast or a celebratory challenge dinner. Discuss what you've learned together over the week and how spending more time as a family has affected your lives. Then, bring out the charts your children completed on the first day of the challenge. In the final column, have them rate how much they missed each activity. Ask each child to share what they can't wait to get back to. Finally, ask them to reveal the activity they missed the least and encourage them to drop it.
Don't get me wrong, hobbies, interests and activities can do a world of good for a child's imagination and teach them much more than just the skill or sport at hand. But overscheduling can spell disaster for your kids and your family. Too much of anything is not a good thing. And chances are, there are a few activities in there they never liked in the first place, so why not take that time and funnel it back into your family or your child's true passion?
Once everyone has made their decision, total up how many free hours you'll have a week. As a family, decide how you will use that time to create new family traditions. Keep it simple. It could be a weekly Sunday brunch, movie night every Friday or a monthly visit to a new park or play or art exhibit.
As your last step in the challenge, download this pledge. Put your family vision in writing and have everyone in the family sign their names. Post it on the fridge as a reminder that the greatest gift you'll ever receive is already yours.
THE RATHI REPORT
Tanuja: It has been an interesting week. Each child identified one activity that we will be eliminating this week. This will give us five more hours a week, not to mention the cost savings of not doing these activities! The five hours may not seem like a lot, but most of those will be on the weekend, which will allow us to do more family activities.
It was interesting to evaluate why we have the kids in some activities. I felt apprehensive on giving some activities up, as we have invested time and money for them to get to the level they are at. But through this process we really looked at which activities the kids really enjoyed. What is most important is that the kids are doing things that they really enjoy. This activity was really life-changing because it made us focus on what is really important. It is really easy to get sucked in to having your kids do all the activities to make sure that they have the best. But this allowed us to really look at: "Do we really need to have them do all these activities? Is this what is really important? What are the kids going to remember when they grow up? All the activities that they did when they were young, or the fun family times that we did not have the time for?" I personally want to create memorable family times. I want to make sure that the kids feel connected to us as they get older. This is the time that we must make it a priority to focus on our family rather than doing too much.
I realized that the mom is usually the one that needs to make sure we have focused family time. I found that without as many activities, I was able to be pretty creative to come up with new, fun activities. We decided after this week that we would make sure that Sundays would be family dinner and game night. We would have dinner together each evening during the week. Two nights this means that we will wait for Nina to come home from gymnastics and have dinner at 7 p.m. I will also try to make sure that we have more fun time with the kids and also that the kids have more playdates and fun with friends (which has not been happening too often). Also, I realized that I need to make sure that my husband and I have date nights on a regular basis. We used to do this more, but with the kids' schedules we have not been as good about this. Overall, I would highly recommend this challenge to everyone. It really makes you realize what is important and make changes
Raj: This challenge has allowed all of us to understand what we missed and what we can certainly live without. For this, I think we are all thankful and would recommend such an exercise to anyone that was really willing to dive into the deep end of the pool and experience a different way of connecting back to what is most important—quality time with the family.
Nina: This week was a very relaxing vacation. I did not do anything but school and family activities. This blocked out all of the activities that I did. From what I think, I am going to quit tennis. During the week, I missed the other activities that I did the most. Hopefully, my life will be much simpler. We spent a lot of time as a family this week. From playing games to taking fun vacations, our family did it all. Not doing any activities made time to do family things. I enjoyed doing family activities.
Savi: I liked some days but not the others. Monday and Wednesday were not my favorite days because I missed horseback riding. The other days I was okay. I was bored at home not doing any stuff besides homework. When I would get home from school, I would start my homework then finish it before dinner. I liked being able to do lots of things as a family that we normally don't get to do.
Sabrina: The challenge was very easy and hard in some ways. It was easy on me because I got to see everyone at home more often. Also, when my friends asked me if I can go to their house, I didn't have to say no. Usually, I have an activity after school, or I am too busy to have time with my friends. I missed my piano more than anything! I decided to quit tennis because it was not something that I enjoyed. I decide to keep only two activities that I love, piano and gymnastics. I would never give piano up, not even for $1 million. The challenge is making stuff easier on the people in our family, including me. It was a great week!