How many times do my family and I sit together and actually listen to each other? Like most people today, probably not many. Sure, we sit together. We have meals together, but do we actually listen? Do we give our full attention to the people who are supposed to mean the most to us? Are we in the moment, or is our attention split between an electronic device and the person or people with us?
Yesterday’s Oola for Women challenge was about investing in and strengthening those relationships that ultimately are the most important – our family. So, yesterday I spent much of the day with limited electronic access in order to be more accessible to my family and friends.
I wish I could say the challenge was a breeze, that I spent the whole day away from electronics and just enjoying company of my family and friends, but let’s be real. People have to work and unscheduled holidays are hard to come by. So, I improvised.
I scheduled dinner and family game night. It was a great opportunity to reconnect with my children and my niece. Did we solve the mysteries of the world? Did we discover the secrets to world peace? Did we find a solution to why there is always that one unmatched sock in the dryer even though you know you put in the laundry as a pair? No, we solved the mystery of who killed Mr. Body (It was Mr. Green in the living room with the rope). We ate pizza. We discussed our day. We talked about movies and music and musicals. We talked about how we missed spending this time together because we used to do it all the time.
I was reminded of how amazing my children are and how proud I am of the people they are becoming. I learned about challenges they are overcoming and challenges they still have to face.
I also didn’t wait until the end of the day to work on relationships. Yes, I spent some time on a popular social media site catching up with friends who are far away, but I also went to a friend’s house to assist with a technology problem and discuss important matters (like getting Netflix to work because Supernatural has new episodes).
I spent time with my sister, but I could have been more present and attentive. I’ll admit that. I had my phone with me and checked it more often than I needed. Although I am getting better about it, I still need to remember that if I am in a conversation, then I also need to be present in the conversation.
I am not perfect, and one day of a challenge isn’t going to miraculously make me a better family member or friend. It’s going to take time and practice and constant reflection in order to change my habits. The real challenge to strengthen my relationships has only just begun.
Family is strange and complicated. Sometimes family is defined as the people with whom you share DNA. Some family members are chosen through adoption. Sometimes family are the friends who have been there to support you even when you were acting crazy. However you define family, make sure you are present. Show up and own up to the relationship. Acknowledge that your family believes you are important. You should show them that they are important to you.