Rediscovered Families

No Substitute For Time

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Editors note: This is a guest post from Natalie Alleblas. It is part of the series Choosing to Connect. If you would like to participate click here for details.

Over to Natalie…..

“Oh no, do we have to do that? It sounds so boring!”

These were the words my 10 year old spoke recently, after her dad decided that for Father’s Day he wanted to spend the afternoon in the country, fishing with his wife and three daughters.

Initially, the kids didn’t warm to the idea.

“Is there a playground there?”

“Can we bring our laptop?”

“Can’t we just stay home?”

Since I began my journey to becoming less busy over a year ago, my family has had more time to spend together and we have started a new tradition. Sunday is now our family day.

In the warmer months, we either go hiking or spend the day at the beach. In the winter months we cook a meal together or play a board game.

It really doesn’t matter what the activity is, as long as it involves spending quality time together.

Building houses with tree branches and sticks

A Cure For Boredom

At our fishing spot, the kids were interested in how to “throw in a line” so their dad let them each have a turn to cast the rod. Being typical kids, they didn’t have the patience to sit and wait for a fish to bite, so they decided to build a house with fallen tree branches and sticks.

In the following four hours the children excitedly built “houses” out of whatever nature had left for them by the lake. My husband and I watched in amazement as our children went from complaining about potential boredom to working together on a structure, using their creativity and problem solving skills.

There were no computers, no books, no television, no internet. Just time.

Time to sit in the sun and enjoy the warmth and the fresh air.

Time to focus on the present moment, and not think about yesterday’s problems or what needs to be done tomorrow.

Time to connect with each other.

How We Invest Our Time

Busyness prevents us from creating time and space in our lives to appreciate and enjoy the things that really matter; the things that bring us joy and happiness and make life worth living. We use our time in ways that do not enhance our lives in the long run, and we look outwardly for ways to find happiness when we should be focusing on looking inwards.

Many of us invest our time acquiring possessions and looking for the next thing we believe will bring us happiness. – a bigger car, a larger house, an extravagant vacation. Often people spend hours in jobs they hate just to try and make ends meet.

Is this a wise investment of our time?

We each have a finite number of years to live, yet many of us don’t treat time as a valuable currency.

Nothing Can Substitute The Time We Have

In today’s modern world of rapid technological change and reduced face-to-face communication, it is a challenge keeping members of a family connected. Whether we agree with it or not computers and the internet play a large role in how our children learn and we want to allow them to embrace the positives of technology. However there is no substitute for making the time to spend with our children, teaching them about the real world.

Looking back on our family afternoon fishing and building stick houses, the time we spent together could have been spent in dozens of other ways. But by setting aside Sunday as our family day, we invested our time in ways that will bring us greater returns in the form of happiness, love, connection, and some treasured memories.

And that’s priceless.

Natalie Alleblas and her husband Mark are the parents of 3 daughters aged 10, 6 and 4, from Melbourne, Australia. Natalie writes about ways to live a more meaningful and less busy life on her blog Unbusy Me. You can also catch up with her on Facebook. Please leave her a comment below.

13 thoughts on “No Substitute For Time”

  1. Pingback: What Makes Me Weird - unbusy me

  2. I loved this post and I totally agree – we should look inwards to find happiness instead of outwards. Your girls are so lucky that both you and your husband are so happy and willing to invest your time in them 🙂

    1. Hi Lizzy,
      Thanks for reading and for your lovely words. I hope my kids will someday do the same with their own children 🙂

  3. jeannine: waddleeahchaa

    Amen, amen, amen!

    We make time a priority! One small thing we do as a family is eat dinner together EVERY night sharing highlights or difficulties from our day. We do not over book the children (or ourselves). Building our family bond is more important to us than extra curricular activities.

    I love the stick houses! It looks like such a wonderful family day. A day full imagination and fun. We take a family beach vacation every fall. NO theme parks! Just day after day of our family playing, fishing and exploring on the beach. Your day reminded me of our beach days.

    1. Your dinners sound wonderful Jeanine. I’m also glad to hear that you don’t overbook your schedules. It makes a huge difference.

    2. Natalie Alleblas

      Jeanine, your beach vacation sounds like a beautiful way to connect with your family, and your children will have a lifetime of memories.

  4. I think there’s something incredibly valuable about giving your kids the gift of family memories. It’s the stuff that will have value in years to come. We don’t have set family days, but we do do a lot of family activivities.

    1. Natalie Alleblas

      Hi Jess, family activities build a stronger bond between family members and I’m sure your children will thank you for creating special memories that they will carry with them.

  5. With 3 young ones of my own Natalie, this article resonated so much. Family time is high on my values list and it is never short of amazing to see their young imaginations at work, when given the chance for unstructured play.
    Beautifully written!

  6. Great post. I totally agree we need to invest more time and effort into the simple things together.
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

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