Dear Barb – Finding time for family

Dear Barb;

I am a working mother of three in my mid thirties. My children are involved in many activities therefore my husband and I are very busy with work, household activities and driving our children here and there. As a result I am finding it hard to relax. Most of the time I feel stressed out, and consequently I am not able to enjoy my children or my husband. I would really like to learn to relax and find ways to spend more time with my family. Do you have any suggestions?

Diane, London

Dear Diane,

Your situation is far too common in today’s society. However it is very important that you try to find time to enjoy your family, as before you know it your children will be grown and you and your husband will be looking for a new direction for your lives.

Initially, you need to work on pacing yourself. I know this is difficult to accomplish when you have a million things that have to be done. Perhaps you can begin by taking a few minutes in the morning and evening to meditate. Meditating can be simply finding a spot where you can sit quietly while concentrating on your breathing. As you focus on your breathing, begin to breathe deeper by drawing in enough air to fill your lungs to capacity and when exhaling push the air completely out of your lungs. Start doing this five to ten times at a sitting. Gradually increase until you are meditating approximately 15 minutes. You’ll be amazed how 15 minutes a day of deep breathing can be rejuvenating and give you a sense of inner peace.

Another way of relaxing is by muscle contracting and releasing. When you feel tense, or anytime you want to relax, try contracting groups of muscles and hold for a few minutes before releasing. Begin with your feet and work your way up, until you have systematically relaxed all the muscles in your body. This is beneficial to do before going to sleep at night, as it will help you fall asleep. As well, on your drive to work in the morning try listening to a relaxation tape or CD. These will often include the sounds of nature that we rarely take the time to enjoy.

Above are ways to help you physically relax. However it sounds like part of your stress is a result of your busy lifestyle and not having enough family time. Perhaps you need to find ways you and your family can spend time together enjoying each other’s company. Have you thought about hiring a housecleaning service? If you haven’t already done this, you may find the cost well worth the benefits. For example, if you spend Saturday morning cleaning, you could hire a service to come in and clean your house during the week. As a result Saturday mornings could be spent doing family activities, such as hiking, skiing, or just enjoying time together.

Another option to make your weekdays less stressful is to prepare some of your meals ahead of time. Perhaps when preparing your weekend dinners, you could double up the recipe and freeze a couple of meals for weekdays. These are just a few techniques that may provide some options to help you slow down and take pleasure in your family.

Nevertheless, it’s important to keep in mind that contemporary families are not like the “Leave it to Beaver” families of the 1950’s and 60’s, when mom stayed home and took care of everything while dad went out to work. Consequently a certain amount of stress is unavoidable with today’s busy households.

Good luck Diane. I hope I have been able to assist you in finding ways to relax and enjoy your family.

E-mail your questions to advice.voice@ausu.org. Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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