I was going to write post about what my family does to put family first. I wanted to tell you that every night at about five o’clock I come up from my home office, turn off my phone and computer and make an intentional choice to tune into my family through bedtimes.
That’s how I’m putting my family first right now. I then realized that over the past three years I’ve written dozens of posts giving examples of how we put our family first and the only thing they have in common is that we consciously try to make our family a priority.
The specifics of what putting our family first looks like is something that changes all the time.
One of the first things new moms ask me as a doula (or friend) is “When will they sleep through the night?” And I always answer, “They will. And then they won’t. And then they will again.”
I know this isn’t the answer that they want and they usually respond with a puzzled look, because they were looking for a final solution. They want me to tell them if they just hang on a few more weeks or a few more months their baby will start sleeping through the night.
But it’s just not true. One lesson we learn as parents is just when we figure what works for our families something is bound to change.
To return to my example of a young baby you’ll find that even after they begin sleeping through the night something will change, whether it be teething, an ear infection, or daylight savings that throws your carefully crafted sleep schedule off. Or just when you think they are settled in as toddlers you find yourself up at night soothing them after a nightmare or changing their sheets after an accident.
Sometimes I feel like those new moms. I scan blog headlines hoping I’ll find the post with the magic advice that will provide the perfect solution. Just like those early days of parenting I find that no matter how many solutions I find for my family, the only thing I can count on is change.
Over the past eight or so years putting my family first has meant different things at different times.
Sometimes putting my family first means:
- Putting my career aside to care for my family or support my partner’s career
- Making more homemade meals and sitting down for family dinners
- Turning off the television
- Moving to a family-friendly city with a slower pace and lower cost of living so we could work less and spend more time with our family
And other times putting family first has meant:
- Finding appropriate childcare so I can help provide for the family financially (and fulfill my personal interests/talents)
- Passing on made-from-scratch meals and instead preparing easier meals or take-out
- Putting in a DVD
- Spending holidays away from home so that the children can make memories with grandparents, aunts and uncles.
It really depends on the year (new baby anyone?), the month, the week . . . or even the hour.
The more we’re able to acknowledge and make peace with the eventual change and the constant push and pull that is required to keep the entire family happy and healthy, the easier it is to ease through transitions and uncover what it means to put our family first today.
Sometimes we’re surprised by what we find!
It’s a legitimate question: How do you put your family first? I enjoy hearing how different people and families answer and I enjoy finding new ideas and inspirations for my family. But I also like to remember that putting family first is a mindset, not a formal sit down dinner or a game night.
Or maybe it is – today.
Have you found this to be true? What does putting your family first mean to you today?