The importance of Family Time – Staying Connected

Written by Career Mums

24th March 2022

The importance of family time – staying connected.

 

Connection. Do you ever wonder what it really means? How to achieve it, feel it, know that it’s authentic?

Society tends to throw the word around casually, encouraging us to “stay connected on social media” or “connect with friends online”. Yes, connection can mean online friendships, likes or other similar social interactions but genuine connection at home can seem harder to achieve.

We often hear from our parents that they fear disconnection from their families when they return to work. Finding the time or the energy to engage can be exhausting after a day in the office. But maintaining those connections is vital, below we explore why it’s so important and how you can find it at home.

 

Why is connection so important?

The importance of human connection has been recognised for many years. Strong social bonds and positive human relationships are said to have both physical and emotional benefits, leading to less anxiety and depression, higher self-esteem, stronger immune systems and even longer life expectancy. Without true connection, humans are at greater risk of loneliness and all the emotional and physical detriments associated with it.

 

Connection versus interaction

But how do we define real connection? Isn’t it ok if we just flop down in front of the tv and mumble hello whilst kicking our shoes off and staring at our phones? What’s the difference between interaction and genuine connection?

Well, to feel truly connected we need to feel that the other person is being genuine. That they want to listen, laugh, talk, hug or whatever other behaviour comes naturally at that time. As humans, it’s not unusual to feel other people’s responses. We can tell if an “oh, that sounds like an interesting day” is actually an “Eek, I’m trying to listen and engage but the only thing I want to do right now is flop down on the sofa – alone”. When your partner or children reach out, aiming to respond with compassion and authenticity will leave both of you feeling nourished by the exchange.

 

We are all different.

Just because you are part of a family, doesn’t mean you are all going to enjoy the same things.  Sometimes our parents tell us they find it hard to connect with their children because their interests are so different. If you’re struggling to get your kids or your partner to take an interest in your blooming hydrangeas, just keep it simple. Perhaps you share the same sense of humour, have a favourite food you can delight in or just both love the family pet. Whist some of us will connect with shared hobbies and interests, others will connect by just “being together” in the moment. If words are unnecessary, that’s ok too. You can connect with a bear hug, a hair ruffle, a wink or an eyebrow raise.

 

Anytime, anywhere

So, what if you want to connect but the other members of your family are staring at a screen or hiding in their bedrooms? Accepting how others are feeling is important but it’s also essential to have your own needs met too.  Have courage, it’s ok to tell your partner and children you want to feel more connected. Keep it light-hearted, find out if there’s an alternative time to suit or if they have a preferred activity. Remember the connection isn’t about where, when or what you do – it’s about sharing those authentic moments together.

 

Disconnecting on difficult days.

How easy is it to disconnect? In short, it’s very easy. And it can be even easier if we are tired, stressed and ridiculously busy. Relationships are the key to connection and relationships require time and effort. Starting a new job is demanding and, if you’ve had a particularly challenging Monday, collapsing into a heap at the end of the day might be all you can manage. But these are the times when real connection is even more important. You don’t have to talk about what Margaret in accounts said to you or replay the moment you spilt coffee all over your boss if you don’t want to, but admitting you’ve had a tough day, you need a hug, or you’d really appreciate it if the kids could do the washing up because you’re too exhausted is still strengthening connections. It’s being honest; aim to deliver the message without judgement, blame or shame and give the other people in your family a chance to comfort, support or help in some way. There will be times when they need you too and being there for each other on those difficult days is when we really feel the benefits of family connection.

I hear you

Being listened to is one of life’s greatest gifts. When someone hears you, offers empathy and kindness, they offer an opportunity for human connection to be strengthened. Maintaining strong connections with our families offers us a chance to maintain our own, inner strength. Building resilience for those difficult times and teaching our children that interaction isn’t just about choosing the right emojis.

When our parents ask us how to stay connected with families with so little time or energy, we gently remind them that you don’t need grand gestures and sweeping declarations about the importance of familial bonds to maintain connection, (although clearly you can do that too if you want to); often it’s the little gestures that say “I’m thinking of you, I understand and I’m here for you”, that offer us the chance to connect and are paramount for our wellbeing.

And remember…

We are here to support you! The Career-Mums team have been assisting working parents in their careers for over 5 years

If you’d like more personalised support to help you land your next role, book your Spotlight on your Career Coaching programme.

For further help and support around juggling life as a busy parent, check out our Working Parents coaching programme. 

Join our Career-Mums Club free community on Facebook for regular support and inspiration as a working parent.

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