We all want more joy in the home but life can get busy.
Each and every day you work hard and try to do your best for your family. You sign the kids up for after school activities (my kids do softball, gymnastics, and soccer). You join various groups to stay involved. Then on top of that you have the daily grind inside the home like cleaning, cooking, laundry, and on and on and on…
I got tired just typing that out.
Unfortunately, we can’t be or do all things at all times and something has to give.
It happens to all of us.
You finally get a second to look up from the trenches and take a breath and you realize that it’s not the same place you thought it was.
Home sweet home is…
Not so sweet anymore.
You see, I know this because it happened to me. I got lost in the shuffle and as a result, my relationship with my wife grew distant. I wasn’t being the father that I could be and it wasn’t until I learned these three things that it all started to turn around. I was able to rebuild the connections that were fractured in my marriage and I focused on doing a little bit each day to be the best husband/father I could be.
If’ you’ve found yourself in this situation here are 3 things you can do to bring more joy in the home:
1. Stay Present
One day my son comes up to me and asks “Daddy do you want to play a game”. Without even looking up from my phone I gave him a “No not right now, maybe later”. He went about his way not particularly upset or anything, but about five minutes later it felt like I had been slapped when it dawned on me…
He won’t be six forever. He won’t always happily run up to me wanting to play dragons, cars, castles, bad guys, and ninjas. One day he’ll be all grown up and that won’t be “cool” anymore and here I was missing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Because that’s what it is.
All of these moments happening around us are fleeting and we can sometimes forget just how precious they really are.
Presence is emotional and physical. You can be in the same room with someone and not be connected with them at all. You can be in the middle of a conversation and not fully be “checked in”. I’ve had plenty of times where I was playing with my kids but honestly, my mind wasn’t in it. In my head, I was checking off the list of things that I still needed to do or I was just going through the motions and they could tell.
We can all sense when someone is not present and in the moment. We’ve all had that talk with our spouse when the TV or Facebook seemed to be more important than what we were saying.
With all of the distractions around us trying to take our attention it’s easy to lose focus but when I find myself getting trapped in my thoughts, or not really being “there” I do a short little refocusing trick that I learned from New York Times bestselling author Brendon Burchard. This is something you can do anytime to assess the “level” of presence you are giving in any moment
- Ask yourself this question multiple times a day: “On a scale of 1 to 10 what level of presence do I feel in this moment right now”
This is a quick self-assessment. If you are at a 3 or 4 get yourself to a 7 or 8. Force yourself to engage and bring your energy up. You’ll find that small things are more pleasurable and you’ll start to notice when you are not at the level you should be.
The other day my wife caught me with a goofy smile on my face and asked me why I was smiling. I didn’t really have a reason. My family was all together just watching tv and talking but a strong feeling came over me and in that moment I realized just how lucky I am.
Something like this would have gone right over my head a few years ago but now I find myself getting this feeling often. One of my favorite artist named Van Hunt says it best, “I hold on to the feeling, cause I don’t know when I will feel it again, I’ve become amused by the little things, the Seconds of Pleasure”.
It may not seem like much but this has helped me in so many ways.
2. Keep First Things First:
It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily to-do’s and forget to nurture the unseen parts of the home. The kitchen is a mess so you clean it. The floor needs to be swept so that’s what you do. It’s dinner time so you make dinner. In the midst of all that we can sometimes forget to take care of the most important piece…
The heart of the home.
The heart of the home isn’t the four walls that surround you because honestly that doesn’t even matter (I’ve lived in 3 states and 7 different houses in the last 10 years #MilitaryLife). It’s the people, relationships, bonds, memories, laughs, and cries. It’s where you feel safe to be you. It’s a reflection of you and of your love.
At one point in my life I found myself living on cruise control.
I’d go to work. Come home. Spend a little time with the family. Eat some food and go to bed. Repeat.
Honestly I got complacent and I failed to nurture the heart of the home.
How do you do that?
You do that by deciding each day to live on purpose.
Take what’s important to you and work on it intentionally. Here are a few examples:
- If you want to be more intimate with your spouse than tell yourself that today you will hug and kiss them 15 times before you go to bed, and keep a running count in your head. You don’t have to tell them what you are doing but I’m sure they’ll love the attention.
- In the morning make a pact with yourself that today you are going to spend 30 minutes of uninterrupted time with your kids and then make it happen.
- Intentionally do things to build connection in your relationships. It can be a small as sending an “i love you” text to your spouse in the morning or writing a “have a good day at school” note in your kid’s lunch.
Be purposeful. Be intentional. And always put what matters most first.
3. Find your peace
There comes a time when we all need a moment.
A moment to just sit and relax. A little bit of peace and quiet.
That rarely happens and by the end of the day your’re exhausted and ready to jump in the bed. Then you start to run down the things you need to do the next day and that just makes you even more tired thinking about it.
You go through the day running on fumes and what sucks is sometimes the people around you get the brunt of it. You get frustrated and overwhelmed. You find yourself raising your voice more than you want to. You don’t want to nag but that’s how you feel because you have to constantly say the same things over and over.
And really you just want to take a break.
I think you should do that.
Make time each day that’s just for you. You may not be a morning person but I’ve had some of my most peaceful moments getting up before the “house” wakes up.
Something else we like to do in my house is to call “quiet time”. My wife and I usually do this after we’ve had a long day out with the family or things are just getting too loud inside the house.
When we say it’s “quiet time” that means that kids have to do something calming and quiet. This can be coloring, reading, watching a movie on their Kindle, playing a game on the playstation, anything as long as it is an activity that will let them bring the energy down a bit.
We will usually do this for about an hour, sometimes longer, and let me tell you it’s great. I’m not going to lie. I’ll take a nap in a heartbeat and that’s most likely what we are doing but it really does give the house a quick “reset” when it’s needed.
Also a big thing for us is being mindful of the state of the house. When things start to get cluttered or messy it affects the mood in the house. That sounds a little weird but it’s something I have noticed over the years. I am able to focus better and relax more when things around the house are in order. If you haven’t quite found a system that works for you I have 45 tips for a clean and stress free home that contains some routines, motivation, and tips that will help get you started.
In a nutshell:
- Make time each day that’s just for you(check out the Master Your Morning: 7 day plan here)
- If things get chaotic give yourself and the house some peace (My wife and I call a “quiet time”)
- Be mindful of the state of the house (a clean and organized house helps you to relax more)
What it all boils down to is creating an environment where you and your family can flourish. Create a space filled with love and everything else will fall into place.
What do you do to bring joy into your home?
Is there anything you would add to this list?