Balancing the demands of being with family, building lasting relationships and working to make ends meet can often be a challenge in today’s busy world. Here are seven steps to help you meet these challenges.
1. Take time to strengthen family relationships
Balancing the demands of being with family and working to make ends meet can often be a challenge. Plan to have some time when the family is together and engages in a shared activity like cooking a meal, visiting relatives, going to a park, or organizing the photo albums. Family time need not be private or expensive to be valuable. Integrating leisure time with some service to others not only builds up the family but contributes to the community and brings a sense of satisfaction. Do some small jobs for friends or neighbors. Join a parish or community group that supports vulnerable people, particularly young families, the elderly or people with disabilities.
2. Learn to repair relationships
Building relationship includes learning to work with the conflicts that inevitably arise. Restorative justice gives priority to repairing harm done to relationships rather than to blaming and punishing. We can all apply restorative justice practices in our day-to-day lives – in our families, schools, parish, workplaces and communities.
Here is a simple exercise. When things go wrong, reflect on these questions:
What were you thinking at the time?
What have you thought about since?
Who has been affected by what you have done? In what way?
What do you think you need to do to make things right?
3. Work-life balance
Our country pursues the goal of an eight-hour working day, safeguarding time for relaxation and rest. Check the policies in your workplace and your city or province on work-life balance.
Take a look at the work-life balance in your family. How many hours are spent on work, family, relaxation? Draw a diagram, paint a picture, make a collage. Who gets the most leisure time? Who gets the least? Does everyone get enough rest? Decide on some strategies to keep your family life in balance. Check it again in a month’s time.
Link your family prayer times to particular events – for example, a meal, a particular day, special events such as birthdays, or issues that arise. Get some resources from a Christian bookshop or from the Web. Write your own prayers; make a family prayer book. Include: what you want to give thanks for, what you need to ask for, the people suffering in your local area and around the world, blessings you want for your family and for others.
5. Take time to celebrate the Sabbath
… the true meaning of the Sabbath is not simply a prohibition against labor, but a time for the full development of people through relaxation, worship and freedom from the demands of the working week. Our day of worship lifts us out of the normal daily demands, which are so often dominated by work or consumerism, to reveal the deeper meaning of our time together.
Participate in the Parish liturgy as readers, musicians etc. Before or after attending the Eucharistic celebration, do something special together, for example a walk, a leisurely coffee, a visit to friends or people who might be lonely. Take the newspaper, some food, or a book to an elderly or housebound neighbor.
6. Reflect on your disaster preparedness
In the last several years, many families have had to decide what things to save from impending floods, typhoons or fire. They have had to decide what things they valued the most. What things would you take with you if you had to leave in a hurry? Discuss as a family.
7. Be concerned for vulnerable and families living in poverty
God’s gifts are fully realized when they are shared with others. How we receive and use those gifts will be ultimately judged by how we treat our neighbors – particularly those who are most in need.
Who are the vulnerable families in your parish, town or suburb? How are they supported in your parish? Offer your help through community or parish groups. Use your skills for projects that will help others. Go through your cupboards and take the clothes, toys, appliances you don’t need to Catholic Charity or another charity. Stretch yourself and include one or two things you think you do need. Make it a family project, not just at Christmas time, but on a more regular basis.
Source: Excerpts from http://www.socialjustice.catholic.org.au/publications/ten-step-leaflets/96-ten-steps-to-strengthen-and-support-families