SummaryIt’s so easy for parents to feel isolated with a busy family. But that can be fixed – Christina Patterson shares ways to feel close even when you’re apart.
Wouldn’t it be ideal if both Mom and Dad could “team teach,” so to speak, homeschooling the children together each day?
Ideal—yes. But practical?
Most likely not, as usually at least one parent has a job outside the home. Even parents that work from home will of necessity have to devote a great deal of time to the tasks of the job, leaving them with precious few work-free moments.
When this is the case, though, it is still possible to include both parents, not only in the homeschooling events of each day, but in a sense of solidarity and togetherness as well.
It all comes down to being intentional.
You see, the all too evident fact of the matter is that life is busy. How easy it is to get bogged down in the hourly tasks of the day!
Before we know it, the day has turned into evening, and with evening and the busyness of bedtime routines, soon we find ourselves spilling over into tomorrow; days turn into weeks, and weeks quickly exchange themselves for months.
In the whirlwind of business and bills, lessons and learning, along with everything else in between, it is easy to focus on our own personal responsibilities, be they in or outside the home, with a sort of tunnel vision.
It’s as though while Mom does her thing, and Dad does his, they both have sort of left the other to fend for oneself, so to speak, in their respective tasks.
At times such as these, it is easy for busyness to impose a sort of isolation on the parents, so that, instead of functioning as a team, they might find themselves on a sort of self-sufficient auto-pilot instead.
Like I said, it’s easy for this to happen. Easy. Involving little or no extra effort on our parts because it simply happens as a byproduct of having separate schedules and responsibilities.
That is where the intentional part comes in.
What does intentional mean?
It means to do something on purpose, rather than by accident.
And when each spouse, whether working in or outside of the home, whether chief homeschooling parent or not, decides to be intentional about including the other in the day’s activities, news, or events, this intention can be a powerful impetus to continual and enhanced communication.
When we communicate with others, when we share with them details or facts, or even just a silly moment, this helps them to feel closer to us and the events that we are experiencing, even if we are not in the same physical location.
What are some practical and concrete ways that this inclusion can be incorporated into our busy days?
- Hang assignments or artwork up on the fridge to tell Dad about them.
- Allow each family member to share about his or her day, perhaps one new thing learned, at the dinner table.
- Make lunch for your spouse and bring it to share with him or her at lunch time.
- Take pictures during learning experiences such as nature walks or visiting the pet store, and text the pictures right away.
- Leave encouraging notes in surprising places, such as by Dad’s car keys or Mom’s coffee maker.
- Write down funny stories or jokes as you think of them or as they occur so you will remember to share them later.
- And, lest we become too focused on our own day, remember to check in with your spouse sometimes to see how his or her day is going (I love sharing with my husband when our daughter tells me she has sent him a pretend “text” on her pretend phone that says, “Daddy, I love you!”)\
- The list is endless… what ideas can you think of to connect with your spouse during the day?
Sure, it’s easy to think things like, “Oh, I’ll share that with her later,” or “I know he’s busy, so he won’t think this is as important as I do, so I’ll just file this away somewhere,” or “This story will take too long to explain, so I just won’t bother.”
But again, easy is the, well, easy way out. Deciding you don’t have time to pop your head into your spouse’s office, or send him a quick text at the workplace, or hang special schoolwork up on the fridge just for her to look at when she gets home… well, that’s the easy decision.
Instead, even though it requires a bit more of an effort, making the deliberate decision to include your spouse at that very moment will pay off in the form of a strengthened sense of togetherness.
Make the most of time you share
Finally, make the most of the time that you do share together. I think that for the family that has to be apart often during the week, the weekends tend to become even more of a highlight. This is because weekends often lend themselves to a focus on family activities.
Sometimes this might be in the form of new adventures together, such as a trip to the zoo or park, but most often, this quality time is important simply because it is spent together.
I’ve found that I’ve grown to cherish the little things: the routine of familiar family weekend activities such as more time spent talking and playing — even the various tasks or errands that we accomplish. These times help us to cultivate a sense of togetherness that lingers even throughout the week apart.
We each have our “special job,” as my daughter calls it, whether it’s working at a job outside or inside the home, taking care of the home and homeschooling, or helping with chores, or perhaps a combination of all of these. It is of the utmost importance that we all commit to our own focus throughout the week.
However, it is just as important to intentionally share as much of this with each other as we can.
When it comes to your family, you can never communicate too much.