A QUOTE FOR THINKING ABOUT WHAT MATTERS: Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop. Ovid
A STAYING STRONG TIP: For those new to this blog, I am a Jew. I converted after my marriage. Observing the Shabbat has been a major blessing becoming a Jew bestowed on me. No matter what your beliefs about a higher power, a day devoted to a simpler life is strengthening. To me that means thinking about what matters, not spending money, not working on any commercial ventures, not using my beloved computer, turning off the cell phone, connecting with friends, nature, my G-d.
I urge all parents to schedule a day of rest every week create your own version, your life will improve.
STAYING STRONG TIP ADDED VALUE: Set aside one day a week for no (or minimal) travel, and no turning on the tv, radio, or computer and turning off your cell phone. It saves gas, reduces your carbon footprint, might solve the energy crisis, stop the heating up of our planet. Try it you might like it.
If your life does not include a day of rest, think about instituting at least some hours of rest from the busy electronic life. Do something with the family–a game night is a good way to start. Another possibility: a reading time where part of a novel gets read each night . When we were foster parents sitting down for dinner with no tv and no telephone was mandatory five nights a week. You didn’t have to eat, you didn’t have to talk, you had to be there, and be moderately polite. One night was joke night, another our Shabbot. Those were the only two with any structure. We also had a family night out. Usually a fast food meal and a movie, but it could be bowling, ice-skating, a more special treat. We also had a get your own dinner night. Finally, each parent had a designated weekly night out.
A final way we tried to get time for ourselves was a manditory quiet and in your room time. Leave your room, make noise, or call our names and, if you were not bleeding you were punished. Most of our foster kids had sleep problems so watching tv–yes, each room had a small tv (no cable in those days) –listening to the radio or reading was allowed, but quiet had to prevail.
Most experts on staying healthy say keep the television out of the bedroom. We do now, but did not when we were foster parents. It was our nightly laugh time. I credit Johnnie Carson’s monologues with keeping us sane. Now I take out my hearing aid. David listens to the radio and I read or do puzzles. What works
The earlier you start these ‘taking a break’ strategies the better. Teenagers are harder to woo into such times. A movie once a month may be the best you can manage. Still it will make a difference. When I ran the mental health crisis teams we had a Family Fun night every week. A snack type dinner, games, group talk. It was one of the things that got teens to spend time with their parents and siblings. It relieved the parents from the stress of cooking dinner. It was also one of the things most parents said was most helpful.
And yes, one of my ongoing cranks is how much harder it is on today’s parents to do these things. David and I were both at home and it was hard enough, but it was during those years our only job. So if you are working at more than being a parent, don’t guilt yourself if you can’t do as we did. Do try to find some unconnected family time and the same for you. Start small and spread. Also if you have found ideas that get your family unconnected and spending quiet or play time together then share. Also share if you’ve found a way to carve out some of the same for just you.
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