Thriving As A Family When You Live In The Fast lane
It is extraordinary times that we find ourselves in. Change is now an entrenched way of life. Most of us don't blink when new piece of technology comes out. Just the other day I read about the death of the desktop computer. The big lump of plastic and glass that used to sit on my desk has been replaced by a laptop. Email is quickly making those twentieth communication icons, the telephone and the fax, redundant. The way we live, do business, even shop is undergoing rapid change.
Living successfully is now about keeping up, staying ahead or staying on top of things. It is hard work. Business is constantly asked to grow or reinvent itself so employees are always learning new skills to improve productivity or just to keep up. There is little opportunity to rest or time to stand still and smell the metaphorical flowers.
More and more we live our lives in the fast lane with one eye on the road ahead and the one eye in the rear view mirror sort of glancing at the scenery as we leave it behind.
For many adults life has few margins for error. Whether you have children or not life is about timetables, structure, routines and being organised. You miss an appointment at work or your child becomes sick and your whole day can be thrown out.
The language of the boardroom and the battleground is now common place - words like bottom lines, tactics, strategies are now common when we talk about relationships. Relationships like life are now something to be managed rather than lived.
Whether you have kids or not life is hectic these days. Those with jobs are working harder and longer hours. According to recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures about 30% of the workforce spend 50 hours or more at work, which is double the figures for 1984.
The number of couples where both work has increased to the point where working couples are the norm rather than the exception as they were in the 1950's and 60's. Working and parenting has unique demands with one or sometimes both partners working a double shift - first at work then at home caring for kids.
Life in the fast lane means we parent and partner differently than our own parents which can be the source of a great deal of guilt. The ghosts from the past are extremely strong.
Despite the fact that many couples today live in the fast lane or even out of step with their own parents they can still have fulfilling relationships with their partners. It takes effort and creativity to nourish your relationship. The following seven ideas may help you and your partner stay together as you live your life in the fats lane.
1. Ritualise times together.
We all know that it is important for couples to spend time together to kindle a little romance or just to stay in touch but finding the time is the challenge. We may have good intentions but never get around to putting those intentions into action. The solution is to have some ritualised meeting opportunities that always happen barring a catastrophe. Meet for a coffee once a fortnight, have a regular weekend without the children or a regular time at the movies, which is just for you. Plan your activities around your meeting time rather than your meeting time around other activities. Oh and don't talk about the kids. It is couple time, not family time.
2. Swap your dreams and aspirations.
You need joint dreams and goals to work toward but you also need your individual dreams and aspirations. But you need to check with your partner every now and then to make sure you are both moving in the same direction. Recently my wife told me of her dream to take some time-off work to travel around Australia with our family. It came as a shock because they were counter to my dreams and aspirations, which largely revolved around work. My wife and I are now working toward a plan that will accommodate both sets of dreams.
3. Give your partner the space to grow and do things as an individual.
We all need self-nourishment if we are to be effective partners and parents. We need to time away to have a break or to pursue a part of life that doesn't belong to our family. My wife goes to gym regularly while I enjoy being a member of a number of voluntary committees. Neither of us know much about what the other does at their activities and to be truthful neither of us cares too much. But we both accommodate each other by minding the children and keeping our diaries free to allow each other the chance to maintain our separate interests.
4. Support each other as parents.
The notion of teamwork is important when raising kids. Parents can support each other in the following ways:
* Recognise that parents and children have different needs at different stages. Mothers have a need to bond with babies and dads tend to be a support act at this stage. Boys have strong need to build strong relationships with their fathers around the age of six and again at the age of thirteen. So mothers may need to stand back a little and make sure that fathers and sons have the chance to spend time together.
* Keep talking to each other about kids and what is happening in their lives. Sometimes it is easy to overlook that they are growing up or perhaps having difficulties. Keep each other informed.
* Share the discipline and caring roles. As many parents tell me it is hard work being the 'bad guy' all the time. Give each other break by taking individual responsibility for different areas or times of the day.
* Understand your own and your partner's family of origin and its impact on parenting. Make an effort to accommodate your partner's parenting style even though it may be different than your own.
5. Have regular down-times to build the Emotional Bank Account that you share with your partner.
Shared enjoyable experiences create those fond memories that strengthen the bonds between people. When couples first go out they spend a great deal of time building their emotional bank account - the memories are special and the emotional bank account bulges. But we also make withdrawals when we are critical, argue or neglect to attend to each other's needs. The bank account can easily go into overdraft unless we spend some time replenishing it. This is what down-times are all about. Taking the time on a regular basis to do little but enjoy each other's company and make some deposits in your joint emotional bank accounts.
6. Keep work and home separate.
We can be at home but our heads can be at work so make sure that you leave your work behind when you come through the door at night. Some couples have a regular clean-out opportunity where they talk about their respective days for ten minutes or so then they leave it behind.
7. Work out household tasks according to common sense and availability rather than sex roles or income.
It is amazing how many households still organise their domestic tasks around traditional sex roles - men's work and women's work. Let's move on and break down these rigid divisions even though we may be going against our families of origin. The three parenting roles of domestic helper, carer and provider are now up for grabs.
There is little doubt that staying together in a fast-paced life takes work and commitment. But it can happen. It is a matter of taking control of your lives together and being a little creative about how you live. We are all social pioneers as we learn to live and love together in the 21st Century.
Michael Grose is Australia's leading parenting educator. He is the author of six books and gives over 100 presentations a year and appears regularly on television, radio and in print.
For further ideas to help you raise happy children and resilient teenagers visit http://www.parentingideas.com.au . While you are there subscribe to Happy Kids newsletter and receive a free report Seven ways to beat sibling rivalry.
Stop, Look, Listen! Steps to Better Parenting Communication
As a parent is seems that the majority of your day is spent trying to get your children to listen to what you are trying to teach them. Make them understand how to me a responsible child.
A Dangerous Environment
The internet is a dangerous place for your children. Don't even begin to believe that your child is safe.
Refresher Course on Diapering for Dads
It's among the top criticism wives have of their husbands: He doesn't change diapers!!Reasons dads give: 'My wife does that!" "I don't know how" and "That makes me sick to think about."Changing a diaper is relatively easy and painless.
Parents/Teens and Money - 5 Ideas for Keeping the Peace
Children and teenagers are relentlessly bombarded with merchandise that entices. It can be difficult to find contentment when a newer, better, faster gizmo of the moment hits the market every day.
Teaching Your Children with Coupons
Coupons can be a great tool in educating your child about saving money, being frugal, and shopping smart. Who doesn't want their children to grow up knowing how to save easily on every purchase? With coupon clipping you'll show them money saving skills they can use throughout their life!Teaching your child with coupons can start at an early age.
Its OK to Say No
In the last 20 years we've all been introduced to a new style of parenting that is much more democratic than most of us experienced, growing up. Families are more child- centered than they were before, we no longer advocate spanking as an effective form of discipline, we often allow children to negotiate for privileges or things, and we're much more involved in our children's lives than most of our parents were in our lives.
I WONT DO IT! Tips for Working with the Oppositional Child
"I WON'T DO IT!" "YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!"Whether parent or teacher, we have all "been there" and "done that" with a child exhibiting refusal behaviors. Before "losing your cool" and your power as well, interventions and strategies are provided for use to help deescalate this classic power struggle.
10 keys to Developing Your Childs Genius
Would you like your child to be the best that he can be - to achieve his maximum potential? Imagine how successful your child can be with a brilliant mind, lightening fast learning skills, an accurate, lasting memory, creativity and problem solving skills of a genius. Here are 10 keys to developing your child's genius.
Summer Survival The summer season is here and along with it comes summer vacation for the school-aged kids. Moms are now responsible for coming up with the ideas and curriculum for their children and I am the first to admit that by the summer my creative juices have just about run out.
Parenting: Blending Familes - 9 Universal Laws
The law of -ing.The law of -ing refers to a misnomer in the way we talk about this special kind of family.
Beginning the Special Education Process
Like anything else in life, there's a method to the special education process. It was put in place to help people who deal with learning disabilities get the best services possible.
Parental Involvement in Learning
Whether children attend public or private schools, they benefit when parents become involved in their education. According to the National Institute for Literacy, when parents or other family members frequently read to children entering kindergarten, those children were at a distinct advantage over children whose families read to them less often.
A Dads Thoughts On Dads day
21 Reasons I Love Being A DadWhat you will read in the next five to eight minutes will not qualify as one of the top ten professionally written articles of the year: guaranteed.But you will read this, guaranteed: thoughts created on Father's Day from a guy who loves being a dad.
Develop Your Childs Genius - Right Brain/Left Brain Coordination
No matter how old your children are, you have an immense power to affect their growth, development and success in life. By actively pursuing activities that contribute to the better development of their brain, you provide them with an advantage over all other kids, and increase their chances to be successful in life.
Use Encouragement Instead of Criticism to Help Children Improve
Criticism is punitiveOur children judge themselves on the opinions we have of them. When we use harsh words, demeaning adjectives or a sarcastic tone of voice, we literally strip a child's core of self-confidence and make them less likely to try to please us.
Time To Connect With Your Teen
While on a recent trip to the grocery store, I happened to hear a mother telling her teenage daughter not to answer her ringing cell phone. Of course, the daughter explained to her mother that "she just had to answer it" As the mother was in the middle of stating how she barely gets two minutes of her daughters time in a day, and her daughter answering the ever so "important" call anyways, all I could think was how much I could relate with this poor woman.
Parents Demand Dumbed-down Tests:An Unintended Bad Consequence of the No Child Left Behind Act
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is making the problem of cheating, low academic standards, and public schools lying to parents, even worse. Under this Act, the Department of Education now requires students to pass standardized tests.
Role Models for Your Teen
By the time your children reach their teens, there is only a limited amount of time left to influence them and get them started in life in the right direction.The teen years are a critical time for role models in your children's lives.
How Can I Teach My Child Respect?
A common theme over the past 20 years has been how much children have changed from when we were growing up in terms of how they show respect. I know that for the most part in the 1960's, anyone in a position of authority commanded respect which included parents, teachers, police officers, principals, bosses, coaches and anyone else we viewed in some way as a person in authority.
The Mystery of Child Beliefs, Spirit in Children, Understanding Spirtuality in Children
In the wonderment of childhood, it is easier for a child to find Spirit and belief than it is for adults! Tainted with the experiences of the mundane world, sadly a downhill experience of late, adults can become jaded, defensive, argumentative and nonbelievers. Not so with the purity and innocence of childhood.
|home | site map|