Family well-being means different things to different families, but generally it can be defined as a family that functions well together, is supportive of its members and resilient – able to cope with whatever life throws at them. Managing the competing demands of time and energy that seems to be the dominant feature of modern family life, we want families to not only survive but to thrive.
We recently facilitated a session for University of Warwick’s Working Parents Network on this topic, and suggested the following 5 tips for family well-being:
Take good care of your family’s mental and physical health
Take responsibility to ensure that each member of the family gets enough and appropriate physical exercise (according to their age and abilities). The exercise will produce oxytocin– feel good brain chemicals. Also build time into your family week to spend time together, without the need to do tasks or achieve anything, so that you have a special time when you can check in with each other and pick up on any worries, concerns or issues. Particularly focus on any changes in patterns of behaviour and attitude taking action to address as necessary. Keep home life fresh, relaxing and engaging for all family members.
Plan and organise home life (like you’re at work)
Use tools such as shared diaries and wall planners to plan out each family members’ weekly commitments. Review the additional care and support that you will need and create a contingency plan in case of last minute changes.
Use other work-based tools and organisation principles to create a home that runs smoothly and effectively for each member of the family, whilst reducing time and effort on the least desirable domestic tasks. Give children regular chores to do to contribute to the running of the house, whether it be feeding a family pet, cleaning and tidying their bedroom or loading and reloading the dishwasher. Find ways to work together as a team.
Separate parenting from domestic tasks
In a busy household, it’s easy to include parenting as just another task to be done, along with cooking, laundry, food shopping and cleaning. A healthier mind-set is to separate parenting from domestic tasks (all of which can be delegated, outsourced, delayed or avoided.)
Whilst there are many different parenting styles and approaches, at the end of the day, parenting is all about the relationship you create with your children – this is something that you, and other involved parent figures, take responsibility for being. What kind of parent are you? What do you want to be?
Take time to understand each other
How often do we feel really listened to and understood? Creating rituals during family time where focused attention is given to each member of the family, where they are listened to, empathised with and you can show your understanding and how important they are helps to build individual confidence and build resilient families.
Also make the most of other times to check in with your children – conversations in cars are great as the lack of eye contact can sometimes make a reluctant child feel safe to open up if there is something on their mind.
If there is on-going or unexplained conflict between family members, look at ways this can be resolved, perhaps by seeking professional help.
Make time for yourself
When there are so many competing demands on your time, as a busy working parent, it’s important to take responsibility for your own well-being. This is essential to sustain your own energies and health whilst demonstrating to the rest of your family the importance of taking time for yourself. This could take many different forms such as having a relaxing bath, meditation, reading a book in your comfy chair, socialising with friends, having a hobby, seeing a therapist. Give yourself permission to get what you need – whether this be to relax, restore, renew or energise.
Mental health issues are more apparent and better understood than ever before. Looking after your family’s well-being should create a stable home base for each member of the family aiding each member’s sense of well-being, confidence and mental health over the longer term.
For further help from the Career-Mums team, check out our fabulous Working Parents coaching support – to help you when the juggling of work and home responsibilities becomes overwhelming or you’re going through a transition and would welcome a supportive ear to help you create a more resourceful state. Helping families to thrive.