It is not news to read, hear or even complain about how many may sometimes struggle with keeping up with our fast paced and busy lives. It could be that we work long hours, we are engaged in studies and courses, the strong presence of technology in our lives, and a number of other reasons that may contribute to a fast rhythm in our routine. At the same time, many still wish to have a substantial amount of time to spend with their loved ones, parents still want a strong presence in the lives of their children, partners still wish to maintain their closeness, intimacy and connection with one another. So how can we adapt to balancing these commitments, and also staying connected and making memories with those who mean a lot to us?
Of course, we cannot expand the amount of time in a day. That would possibly be a very useful special power to have; but unfortunately it is not a choice. For many it is also not an option to give up commitments such as employment and studies; both commitments that shape our routine and structure our days leaving us with little options for a maintainable change. The idea of finding more time to spend with our loved ones, might thus simply add stress and tension in the lives of those who have fixed commitments and who cannot do much to routinely have more time on their hands.
In such situations where commitments are fixed and where a change in routine is not maintainable, then how about learning how to make the best possible use of the time that is already available? A concept that I find very useful is that of shifting away from our idea of expecting and being expected to find more time to spend with those we miss, towards thinking of how to make different use of our time (if what we are doing just now does not seem to be working in terms of helping us feel connected to those that we love).
When exploring different ways of how to make use of our time with our families and loves ones, it often helps to keep in mind that what we need to feel connected to our loved ones might be different to what our loved ones need to feel connected to us. Maybe for one family member, it might be enough to connect through cuddling up in the living room with their family and watch a nice movie. Maybe another member of the family would want to talk about their day and listen about your day during a period where both persons’ attention is undivided, maybe someone else would want to play a board game and have fun together, or maybe for the family to go for a short walk and take some photos. This is useful information to know about our loved ones as it gives us important tips about how to make use of our time together in a meaningful way.
Rebecca Cassar is a Family Therapist practicing the Systemic Approach. She specializes in offering therapy to families, couples and individuals who are experiencing distress in their relationships.