Harmony and Home: 4 Ways to Bring Heart Into Your Hearth
Long ago, a trusted mentor advised me to work to live, rather than live to work. It took me some time to figure out how to make that philosophy really pay off, but it’s an amazing feeling once it does. Not surprisingly, one of the best ways to get started with building a healthy work-life balance is through creating design that promotes feelings of harmony and home in your house.
One of my Seven Fundamentals is Objective – start with a goal in mind. If your goal is to spend more time enjoying the company of your loved ones, and less time getting wrapped up in technological time wasters like binge-watching Netflix and endlessly scrolling through cat memes on Facebook, here are some tips to get started.
Objective #1: Create an effortless after-school hangout.
The kitchen is the center of the home for good reason, especially if you’ve got a ravenous teenager in the house: nothing says “love” like food. Adding seating opportunities at the kitchen island, counter, or breakfast table gives kids a natural place to do homework and have a snack while dinner’s in the works. I’d say that it’s a great place to get your kids to tell you about their day, but let’s just stick with the easy stuff for now.
Objective #2: Spend quality time together as a family.
No matter the size of your home, there’s always a way to set up a space for family activities. When I was a kid, my family bonded over family game night at the dining room table. We’d snack, play card games, and rib each other mercilessly (we’re a pretty competitive bunch). Now that we’re all older, the tradition continues with our own kids. Whether you’ve got the space to set up a poker table in your finished basement, or if you’re just playing Trivial Pursuit at the living room coffee table, setting an expectation for your space will eventually create a craving to recreate those precious family moments.
Objective #3: Get active.
I’ve always thought that one of the greatest gifts I could give my kids was a love of being active. With the obesity epidemic in our country, and all the related health concerns that come along with sitting around on the computer and playing video games all day, my husband and I have made it a point to encourage the kids to go play whenever possible. One of the things we did was build an outdoor hockey rink in our back yard. The first year we built the rink, I expected it to be a place for my kids to skate around and play, and maybe invite a few friends. I definitely didn’t expect for the whole neighborhood to show up – but they did. My lesson: if you build it, they will come. And they keep coming, every year.
Objective #4: Reconnect with your partner (and yourself).
Don’t forget that the foundation of a healthy home starts with you. My husband and I are early risers. We begin our day together every morning, about an hour before the kids get up. That first cup of coffee and a chat about the upcoming day has been one of the most important rituals of our marriage, and has seen us through a lot. Whether you’re a single parent or in a relationship, the key to getting the most out of your family time is making sure that “me time” and “us time” is built in to your daily life, too. Pick a place and a time that can be your daily kid-and-technology-free zone. Whether it’s your bedroom, your favorite spot in the living room, or like us, a place at the kitchen table, make it yours and return to it daily to share your thoughts and strengthen your bond.