Family First

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With today's hectic lifestyle, families need to make spending time with each other a priority. It's not easy, and many times events tend to crop up that would steal that time away. Don't allow the urgent things to take precedence over the important things. Here are a few suggestions to make family time a reality.

Take inventory: You will make time for what is important to you. How much time do you actually spend with your family now? Much like beginning a budget, write down the specific amount of time spent with your family for a period of time, say a month.

Start dating: Every member of your family needs a relationship with you. It is important to spend time with each member separately. Get to know your children as individuals. That may mean taking your daughter to the mall, or your son on a fishing trip. Peer pressure exerts its greatest influence during the ages of 12-14. Don't give up during these tough years! Remember to take your spouse on a date, too!

Write it in stone: Set aside specific family time. Allow nothing to interfere with it, and forbid anyone to schedule something else during this time. It might be for a half-hour a day, to keep up with what everyone is doing, or perhaps a couple of hours once a week. The optimal goal for husband and wife is ten hours a week. Do whatever works for your family. Regardless, make it a priority.

Small things add up: Take a few moments every day to let each family member know that you appreciate them. Be specific. Let them know exactly what they did and that you appreciate it. Did your son take out the trash without being asked? Did your daughter clean the kitchen after dinner? This can be a small step toward rebuilding relationships if you are running into trouble with a teen. Again, be sure to include your spouse!

Have fun: Every so often, schedule a 'just because' afternoon. Be flexible and spontaneous. Go to the zoo, walk on the beach, play Laser Tag, have an ice cream sundae... whatever. Just have fun!
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