It looked like a family reunion, but it was a funeral visitation. I arrived ready to share my condolences with my cousin, expecting an evening of somberness and shared stories. However, my expectations quickly changed. As I wrapped my widowed cousin in a hug, she quietly reminded me, “Tonight is a gathering of love, family and celebration.”

The Healing Power of Family

For the next hour, I shared hugs and visited with my aunts, uncles and cousins—some I have not seen in over five years. The catching up and many stories were a constant reminder of how much love was in that one room amongst my dad’s family. Yet my eyes and heart kept wandering over to my cousin. She was eloquently sharing words of joy, healing and love to all who came to give her condolences. I stood there in awe while soaking up the family conversations.

Strategies for Protecting Family Time

As our conversations winded down and we all went our separate ways, I spent my drive home thinking about the main theme of conversations: creating family and extended family memories.

How often do we truly look for those unscripted moments of sheer joy with our families? How do we go about looking for these moments when life seems to be all about appointments, meetings, sports/activities schedules and our careers?

Below are four simple yet broad strategies for choosing how our family protects our time:

  1. We understand the limitations of our children. Both our junior high son and high school daughter become quite overwhelmed when there are too many “to dos” or practices on their schedules. They both find solace in being at home. Saying “No” and staying home is the ultimate self-care for them.
  2. We set aside one entire week of the summer where we commit to nothing. It’s called our “No Commitment Week, Just Family.”
  3. We teach/encourage our kids not to feel guilty about protecting their mental, physical and emotional health. This is hard as our kids are people pleasers and do not like to disappoint others.
  4. We keep an open mind about “dropping all commitments” and just “going.”

Protecting our family boundaries is not always easy and communicating these boundaries with coaches is not always positive. But with the limited amount of time we have with our kids in our home, these boundaries are becoming more and more important and needed.

Shelly Mowinkel

Shelly Mowinkel

K-12 & Teens

My husband and I have three kids. Our oldest is a freshman in high school, and our youngest is in second grade. Most days, I feel like we are a “tag-team chauffeuring” service, yet I wouldn’t have our life any other way. Not only I am a business/technology teacher at Milford, I am also the district technology integration specialist. I love teaching because I get the opportunity to make those around me better. My hope is that, through my blogging, I am able to inspire, encourage, and share with you my adventures of being a wife, mother, and professional.

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