While the big events matter, it’s what happens in between that really counts.
Photo provided by the author.
If you look at the pictures on the walls of peoples homes, you would assume that it’s the big events that matter. You may see pictures that commemorate the birth of a child, that child’s first steps, the year they won the science fair competition, etc. You may see wedding pictures and graduation pictures. You may see pictures with family and friends on epic vacations. But when your children are grown and on their own, when you are into your 30th year of marriage, or when your grandchildren are approaching high school, is it those big moments that define your relationships with those people? Or is it something else?
The older I get the more I find that I am in agreement with the idea that it is the small yet significant moments, one built on another — and then another and another — that matter. What do these moments look like? I suppose that’s different for each of us.
Here’s an example of a significant moment I had with my grandson recently:
I got the following text from my wife while I was at work: “Can you call Sebastian? He has a joke he wants to tell you.”
Sebastian is my four-year-old grandson who lives with my wife and me. I called home and he answered. After saying hello he said, “Why did the kid take a ladder to school?” I honestly have never heard this joke before. I said, “I have no idea buddy. Why did the kid take a ladder to school? Between bursts of giggles he told me “because he wanted to go to high school.”
We shared a good laugh about that. It’s the first time he’s really told a joke well. It’s obvious he understood what was funny about it, and his delivery was spot on. He’s actually been working on telling jokes for a while. It felt to me like this moment was as significant as the time a child rides their bike without training wheels for the first time. Definitely a milestone for him.
It was a milestone for Sebastian, and it was definitely a moment for us. While one phone call and a good joke might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of life, we have these moments often and our relationship grows a little with each one.
Many times, as in the example above, these moments happen organically on their own. But considering the value of each moment, and considering how quickly life passes by, it’s worth taking the time to consider what we can do to increase the odds of these moments happening. What can we do to create these moments.
Quality family time is about making the most of the time you spend together as a family. Here are some ways you can make quality time happen in your family:
Use everyday time together to talk and share a laugh. For example, family meals and car travel can be great times to catch up on the day.
Have time together when devices are turned off and out of sight. This helps to keep everyone focused on what you’re doing or talking about at the time.
Have one-on-one chats with each family member to strengthen individual relationships. It can just be five minutes before each child goes to bed.
Set aside time with your partner, if you have one. You could explain to your children that it’s good for your relationship with your partner to have this quality time alone together.
Do regular, fun things together as a family. This can be as simple as a family soccer game at the local park on Saturdays, or a family board games night each week.
When it comes to creating moments with my grandson, I really like the method of simply including him in as many of my daily tasks as possible. At four-and-a-half he has already helped complete oil changes, brake jobs, and tire changes, as well as shock and strut replacement on our cars. He has helped hang drywall. He leaf blows the sidewalk, helps do yard work and plants things in the garden. He helps to cook and even loves to help clean up.
Photo by the author.
When asked recently by an adult, “What do you and Paw Paw do?” he said, “We do projects.”
Having a little helper for household projects does not help you finish them faster and it does not save you any money. In fact, just the opposite. Some projects take twice as long and we’ve resigned ourselves to the fact that we will be spending money in the future fixing some of the things he fixes. I don’t mind at all that the projects take more time and that there will be extra money spent. Why? Because we are creating moments.