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Reasonable Dreams

We have two problems today: 1) people being encouraged to follow unreasonable dreams, and 2) people having their reasonable dreams doubted by others.

Problem 1: Fantasies

First, the idea you can "be anything you want" or "do anything you want" if you "just believe in yourself" is utter self-esteem, fanciful nonsense. I'll never be an NBA player or a world class pianist. No amount of positive self talk or "rah-rah" is going to change that. A reasonable is something that pushes you beyond what you have ever done but not towards something you are incapable of doing.

We don't do ourselves or those we influence any favors by encouraging them to pursue an unrealistic for the sake of "feel good about yourself" or "follow your dreams". I once had an in-law who was a little better than average decent singer. She could sing pretty well. She had a nice voice. But she was not professional quality, nor did she possess the drive, discipline or commitment to be a professional singer. But the whole family patted her on the back and encouraged her for 20 years to pursue her "dream" while behind her back rolling their eyes knowing full well it could never happen.  

Don't encourage someone in an unreasonable dream just because you don't want to hurt their feelings. On the other, you should listen to someone who advises YOU that YOU are pursuing something unreasonable. Doesn't mean they are right, but it should be something to an honest look at, especially if the person advising you is a true friend with no agenda.

Problem 2: Doubters

The second problem is those who doubt your reasonable dream.  These doubters are usually the mildly lazy, the lack-of-vision folks, the jealous and the criticizers. A two word answer for this problem: ignore them.

If you have a reasonable dream to create a business, learn a skill, pursue a career or accomplish something, YOU WILL have doubters. Ignore them. 

As  whole people dream too small… they don't push themselves to bigger things settling rather for the scraps and crumbs that fall off life's table. Dream big reasonable dreams for your life. No, that's not a contradiction; it's a buffer against our generation of self-esteem, celebrity-worshipping fantasy that would have every kid a pro athlete or American Idol winner.

Dream BIG reasonable dreams, then ignore anyone who doubts you can achieve them.


Family Time DIY Projects

In some past posts, we’ve discussed an unfortunate reality of modern life:  a lack of time to spend with the family.  Obviously this is a problem that affects everybody to different degrees.  One family might lament the fact that it only gets a few nights per week to spend together as one cohesive unit, and another might be lucky to get even a few minutes together.

In today’s world, it’s not uncommon that both parents work, and it’s certainly not uncommon that teenage children work as well.  Everybody has their own commitments – be they professional or personal – and getting all of the schedules to align can be tricky at best.  But that doesn’t have to mean that “quality time” is off the table entirely; you just might have to be more creative about where you find it.

SUGGESTION #5:  Work Together on DIY Projects

Working on DIY projects as a team is an excellent way to enjoy family time if you do not expect perfection. Try to select activities suited to your children’s ages and abilities, so attempting things beyond their capabilities will not discourage them. In addition, keep safety in mind when choosing which ventures to tackle, and use the opportunity to teach important safety lessons as you work.

Everyone will enjoy making a bird feeder and watching the birds that come there to eat after it is finished. You can find complete directions for a very simple feeder here. This is a good family time DIY project when you have small children. They will enjoy gathering supplies and decorating the cardboard tube but will need your help with punching holes and gluing. Or try this whimsical birdhouse for your feathered friends. An old rubber rain boot can have new life as a home for your backyard birds and provide entertainment for the family as well.

Puzzle-piece friendship necklaces make great family time DIY projects if you have young girls. The necklaces can become inexpensive gifts for their special friends, and the whole family can participate in the fun of choosing interlocking pieces and making the necklaces. Find instructions for this simple activity here.

Check out the TLC page for ideas on how to create unique window treatments for kids’ rooms. Use old shipping crates from warehouses to make rustic window shutters. Since the wood is already rough, you will not need to be concerned about extra gouges the kids may inflict on it during assembly, and the materials should be quite economical.

Even if your children’s ages are far apart, you can still work on DIY projects together as a family. Let the older ones help their younger siblings, and choose simple projects. You can tackle ventures that are more complicated with your older children when the younger ones are in bed, so they will not feel that all the family activities are childish.

About the author:  Philip J Reed works in association with Westwood College.  Westwood offers a wide variety of programs and degrees at 17 separate campuses, and also offers a comprehensive online college experience, which may be of particular interest to busy parents.  For information and answers to any questions you might have, please visit the college website.


Ways to Spend Time With Your Family, Even When Time is Short (Part 4)

–Philip J Reed, on behalf of Westwood College

For the past two months, we’ve discussed an unfortunate reality of modern life:  a lack of time to spend with the family.  Obviously this is a problem that affects everybody to different degrees.  One family might lament the fact that it only gets a few nights per week to spend together as one cohesive unit, and another might be lucky to get even a few minutes together.

In today’s world, it’s not uncommon that both parents work, and it’s certainly not uncommon that teenage children work as well.  Everybody has their own commitments – be they professional or personal – and getting all of the schedules to align can be tricky at best.  But that doesn’t have to mean that “quality time” is off the table entirely; you just might have to be more creative about where you find it.

SUGGESTION #4:  Start a Family Game Night

Family game night, for many families, is already an institution.  It’s something they look forward to for many reasons:  it keeps them occupied, it brings them together, it encourages teamwork (or, depending upon the game, individual strategizing), and, in many cases, it’s educational.  Other families, however, may never have embraced the joys of game night.  Or, perhaps, their game night didn’t meet with much success.  We’re going to talk a little bit today about how to make game night successful, and we’d love to read any tips you might have as well in the comments section below!

This suggestion is actually two-fold, as the main benefit here is simply the scheduled togetherness.  Whether your family game night is weekly or monthly, make sure it at least adheres to a regular schedule.  While that might be difficult to arrange at first, it will get much easier very quickly as you and your family get used to having that time “blocked off.”  The scheduled togetherness should not be an inconvenience; it should be something everybody looks forward to!  Therefore make sure to choose a night that will not interfere too severely with other plans or commitments.

Once you’ve got the scheduling out of the way, start thinking about the games themselves.  It’s not unlikely that you already have at least a few games laying around, but you can use this opportunity to purchase a few new ones as well.  If you go the latter route, make sure you take opinions from everybody in your family, and try to find some common ground.  They may not agree on specific games, but does it seem like they prefer artistic games?  Word games?  Trivia games?  Finding something that everyone can enjoy might seem like a daunting task, but it’s not that difficult if you listen to what everybody has to say.

You should also rotate the games regularly so that nobody becomes bored.  In fact, allow a different family member to choose the game each time, so that nobody feels left out or that their opinion is going unheard.

Another important consideration is the appropriateness of the game to the ages represented by your family, and also to the size of your family.  While a complex game like Risk might be a great deal of fun, young children might be overwhelmed by the complicated rules and advanced math required.  On the other side of the spectrum, a game like Candy Land might be easy for young children to grasp and enjoy, but it may bore and fail to engage their older siblings.

Regarding family size, make sure your game supports the correct number of players so that nobody is left out, or forced to share a game piece with somebody else, as that can limit their engagement with and enjoyment of the game.  Also, if your family is small, be sure to find a game that’s appropriate for that as well.  Monopoly might not be much fun with only two players, but there’s always Battleship, Connect Four, or even Checkers or Chess.  You might technically have fewer options if you’re a small family, but that doesn’t mean you still don’t have a vast pool to draw from!

Of course, the games are just the perceived stars of the show.  In reality, the experience is all about your family, and the time they spend together, so make sure you are creating a positive atmosphere.  Be sure that neither the winners nor losers act sore.  Provide fun and healthy snacks, and upbeat and pleasant music.  The outcome of the game may be forgotten by the next morning, but the memory of family game night should last a lifetime!

About the author:  Philip J Reed works in association with Westwood College.  Westwood offers a wide variety of programs and degrees at 17 separate campuses, and also offers a comprehensive online collegeexperience, which may be of particular interest to busy parents.  For information and answers to any questions you might have, please visit the college website.


Ways to Spend Time With Your Family, Even When Time is Short (Part 3)

–Philip J Reed, on behalf of Westwood College

In a couple of previous posts, we discussed an unfortunate reality of modern life:  a lack of time to spend with the family.  Obviously this is a problem that affects everybody to different degrees.  One family might lament the fact that it only gets a few nights per week to spend together as one cohesive unit, and another might be lucky to get even a few minutes together.

In today’s world, it’s not uncommon that both parents work, and it’s certainly not uncommon that teenage children work as well.  Everybody has their own commitments – be they professional or personal – and getting all of the schedules to align can be tricky at best.  But that doesn’t have to mean that “quality time” is off the table entirely; you just might have to be more creative about where you find it.

SUGGESTION #3:  Embrace the Spirit of the Holiday(s)

It’s November, and this past Halloween is still a recent memory.  The major holidays, as we all know, can be stressful.  The number of days in a week doesn’t increase, but we need to accomplish so much more.  There are plans to make and keep, parties to attend, friends and family to see and feed, gifts to purchase, decorations to make or hang up, and so on depending upon the holiday in question.  That can all be quite stressful, but here’s the good news:  it can also be a great way to spend more time with your family.

Young children, in particular, love holidays.  Christmas, Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, birthdays…the holidays  are all magical to them in such distinct ways.  Whichever holidays you choose to celebrate with your family, therefore, can automatically be a great time to get more involved in each other’s lives.

Think about any of the traditional things that families have done for generations.  Carving pumpkins, hanging decorations, trimming a tree…any of that is a perfect opportunity to get the entire family involved.  Work together to select and hang decorations.  Decide which activities you will do, and schedule a time to do them so that everybody can be available.  The time you spend with your family is reward enough in itself, but accomplishing holiday tasks in the process means you can be productive as well as attentive!

Start your own traditions as well.  Talk to your family and find out what they would like to do.  Select a few activities that can appeal to everybody, and try them out!  The more interested your family is in doing something in the first place, the more likely they will want to keep doing it, year after year, and expanding a little more the time you spend together operating as a team.

Remember, your family is your family!  No two families are exactly the same, and they won’t celebrate the same holidays in the same ways.  That’s why we’ve avoided (for the most part) discussing specific activities in this article.  But there will definitely be activities and events your family can enjoy, so ask them what they’d like to do, and involve them in anything that you plan on doing to celebrate the holiday.  Something like hanging decorations can be transformed from a “chore” to an “activity” with just a small change of mindset, so take advantage of that!

The holidays are a time for togetherness.  Keep that sentence in mind, and you’ll find more opportunities for quality time than you realized existed.

And after a long day of decorating or other activities, don’t just split up and go to bed!  Depending upon the time of year, conditions might be perfect for a viewing of It’s a Wonderful Life, It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, or The Ten Commandments.

About the author:  Philip J Reed works in association with Westwood College.  Westwood offers a wide variety of programs and degrees at 17 separate campuses, and also offers a comprehensive online college experience, which may be of particular interest to busy parents.  For information and answers to any questions you might have, please visit the college website.


Ways to Spend Time With Your Family, Even When Time is Short (Part 2)


–Philip J Reed, on behalf of Daybreak

Last month, we discussed an unfortunate reality of modern life: a lack of time to spend with the family. Obviously this is a problem that affects everybody to different degrees. One family might lament the fact that it only gets a few nights per week to spend together as one cohesive unit, and another might be lucky to get even a few minutes together.

In today’s world, it’s not uncommon that both parents work, and it’s certainly not uncommon that teenage children work as well. Everybody has their own commitments – be they professional or personal – and getting all of the schedules to align can be tricky at best. But that doesn’t have to mean that “quality time” is off the table entirely; you just might have to be more creative about where you find it.

SUGGESTION #2: Eat up!

Pop quiz: what do you and your children have in common?

Depending upon their ages, it’s pretty likely that by now you’ve had the differences hammered home clearly enough. You may not like the same music, you may not read the same things, and you may not be interested by the same current events. Your political leanings may be different, the things you look for in a friend or relationship may be different, and your understanding of the value of a dollar…well, maybe it’s best if we don’t bring that one up. (At least not without giving it its own part in this series!)

But there’s one thing we can guarantee that you do have in common: you need to eat! Yes, food is the great equalizer. No matter how busy you are, what you plan on doing later in the day (or night), or how you’re feeling, you need to eat. And that means that mealtime is a daily routine, whether you’d like it to be or not. So why not make the most of it?

You need to spend at least some time each day preparing and eating food, and so does your family. Use this as a bonding experience. Block off an hour of the day if you can so that nobody makes plans, and use that for dinner time. Is an hour too much to ask? Then try a half hour. Still not something you can arrange? Then shoot for breakfast instead, when everybody is more likely to be home. The more time (and the more meals) the better, but work with what you have!

Mealtime doesn’t need to be extravagant or elaborate. Remember, it’s your family you’re here for, not the cuisine! (Or, at least, not onlythe cuisine!) When your main goal is connecting with your spouse, son, daughter, or any combination of the above, sandwiches are just as good as rack of lamb. Spend time asking about your children’s plans, or how their days went. Listen to what they have to say. Be thoughtful, and engage them in
conversation.

Don’t press them for answers, but encourage them, or elicit them by telling them about your day yourself. You cannot force somebody to respond openly to you, but you can certainly foster an environment within which that’s exactly what they’d like to do themselves, and that should be your goal.

If they are available, engage them in meal preparation as well. Not only does it afford an additional opportunity for conversation, but it can be a great starting point for imparting on them the importance of good nutrition, a varied diet, and even just basic cooking skills in general. They can learn by helping!

And while this might seem obvious, it’s worth repeating: turn the television off. There’s nothing wrong with movies or television programs in moderation, but if you only have a short time to spend with your family, make the most of it. (Exceptions, of course, can be made in the case of a major unfolding news story, a Presidential address, or other significant events that can lead to both enrichment and discussion as a family unit, but those exceptions should be rare!)

With the television off and food to share, you may find that your family has more to say to each other than they realized. And once it becomes a habit, you’ll never have to scramble for time again; they’ll be planning on it.

About the author:
Philip J Reed works in association with the
Daybreak community in Utah.  Daybreak is a community committed to providing sustainable housing, healthy living, and a strong sense of family values.  Information can be found at the Daybreak website.

 


Ways to Spend Time With Your Family, Even When Time is Short (Part 1)

[From Brent: welcome our guest blogger today, Philip Reed. I look forward to the rest of his series on spending time with your family. Be sure to visit his links.]

–Philip J Reed, on behalf of Daybreak

We know what it’s like to not have enough time in the day.  Many of us work long hours to keep our families comfortable and secure, and that may not leave us with as much room for “quality time” as we would like.  Every parent knows how rewarding and important it is to spend time together as a family, and yet we are often overcome with feelings of guilt because sometimes that time just doesn’t seem to exist.

For that reason, we have decided to put together this series.  None of us have all the time we would like to accomplish all the things we’d need to and like to do, so the least we can do is make the best of what time we do have.  In each installment, we will discuss one way to make sure you have time to bond with the family…even when you didn’t think you had time at all.

SUGGESTION #1:  Make the Most of Your Commute

We know it’s difficult to get everybody’s schedules to align.  When your children are very young it might not be much of a problem, but as they get older they will make friends, and, of course, they will make plans with those friends.  All of a sudden, you have several schedules to juggle if you want to spend time together, and that is not always easy.  Between your job, your spouse’s job, your own personal commitments as a couple and now your children’s burgeoning social lives, how will you ever spend any time together?

The answer might be easier than you think:  the car ride.  Whether you take your children to school or just over to a friend’s house to drop them off, make full use of that car ride.  Invite your spouse along as well; everybody likes a nice, relaxing ride now and again.  It’s a great opportunity to have everybody together, and you can use that time – however long or brief it may be – to discuss their day, their plans with their friends, and what they’re looking forward to doing on the weekend.

It’s also a great time to bond over car games, from the simple “I Spy” to seeing if they remember the correct way to get their friend’s house, thereby teaching and building valuable navigation and orientation skills.

You can even bond over the radio.  Do you know what your son or daughter’s favorite song is?  If they’re like many children, it changes regularly.  So stay in touch!  Listen to music together.  Ask about their favorite entertainers, and get an idea of the kind of songs they enjoy.  (This can also help you to steer them away from material you might find objectionable, but don’t yet realize they listen to.)  What’s more, you can even expose them to your favorite music in return.  They might make fun of you for liking “old people music,” but, of course, you’ll know they’re doing it out of love.

And, besides, isn’t the sound of their laughter reward enough in itself?

About the author:  Philip J Reed works in association with the Daybreak community in Utah.  Daybreak is a community committed to providing sustainable housing, healthy living, and a strong sense of family values.  Information can be found at the Daybreak website.