You may or may not have noticed but your family as a unit has its habits. And your family’s habits are a mix of your individual habits. This is why your family’s habits are different from another family’s habits.
Family habits are one reason some families are more successful and get along better than other families.
While habits are extremely important and help you function from day to day, they are only good, if they enhance your life. Likewise, your family habits are only good if they promote family health.
To keep the family functioning well, you need to recognize which habits are holding you back from functioning successfully and in a pleasant way. Once you identify them it becomes easier to change them. The best part is that all it requires is for one person to change his/her behaviour and the rest will be affected by that person.
Here are 5 family habits you may want to consider eliminating.
1. Complaining: Many people complain, for no other reason than to complain. They never actually take any steps to change what is bothering them, but they do complain. Complaining is a contagious habit that wastes time. It can also ruin relationships when directed at other people. Instead of complaining, be proactive and change what isn’t working in the family. Don’t complain to your partner and to your kids about their actions. Be aware of how your own actions affect their behaviour and change your actions so you bring out the best in your family.
2. Over-scheduling: Both parents and kids tend to have too much on their plates. The workload leaves everyone running around and having little time for each other. If this sounds like your family, I encourage you to have each family member drop an activity per week. Prioritize and decide where your family falls on the scale of importance. In the years to come, your kids will remember and appreciate your family time more than any other activity.
3. Chaos in the home: Because people are constantly on the go, it leaves very little time for cleaning. Since housekeeping services can be expensive it leaves many homes in somewhat of a mess. The more disorder there is in the home the less safe and comforting it’ll feel for you and the kids. Reduce unnecessary clutter and make a conscious choice to clean the house once a week. The trick is to get everyone to participate (the boys too!). The more they do for their home the more they’ll appreciate what they have. The first cleaning will be the hardest and longest. After that, it’ll only be upkeep....easy breezy!
4. Yelling: Saying it louder doesn’t make it more right or clearer, it doesn’t get it to sound better, and it’ll not improve your kids’ listening skills. Yelling is a sign of disrespect, powerlessness, and poor communication. Unfortunately, it’s also contagious; as soon as one voice escalates so does another. Instead of yelling, practice sharing your feelings, and speaking in a respectful way. If the kids are still not listening to you, try listening to them. This way you can get an idea of what they are telling you and it’ll allow you to meet their needs. When they feel listened to, they’ll be more likely to listen.
5. Going off to do your own thing: Some families are not as busy, but unfortunately, they don’t use some of their free time to spend together. Instead, each family member goes into a different room to do his or her own thing. Although having personal time is healthy, it’s also important to have family time. Spending about 1.5 hours (length of a movie) on 1 to 3 different occasions per week with your family will benefit everyone. Go for dessert, play family games and sports, go on a picnic, walk the dog together, just sit together and talk without electronics around, etc. The physical proximity will build an emotional closeness.
Best Wishes to You and Your Family!
Ivana Pejakovic, Life Coach in Toronto