There’s no place like home. As the provider for our family, I’ve always looked forward to returning home at the end of the work day. My retreat. My haven. My safe zone. No matter what happens during the day, I know I have a loving and supportive family waiting for me on the homefront.
But I haven’t always protected that retreat. There have been many times I’ve allowed my negative emotions and preoccupations from the day to taint my home.
For the most part, I’m good about being home when not working. Gail helped me establish good habits to balance work and home early on in our marriage. I made time for her, the kids, Family Nights, etc. Yet I have to admit I haven’t always been mentally or emotionally present even though I was physically present.
My family needs me. Long before I was Pastor Kirby, I was Gail’s husband. I was Dad. They deserve the best version of me as well as my undivided attention. And your family needs you fully engaged as well.
But it’s tough at times to lay aside the cares and the hassles of the day when we come home. I have to work deliberately to do so and it starts before I walk through the door.
Here are some practices I’ve developed over the years to help me be present for those who mean the most to me:
- Leave your troubles outside. I once heard of a man who had a strange practice when arriving home at the end of the work day. Before entering his house, he’d put his briefcase down and hang imaginary items on the ornamental tree outside his door. When a neighbor finally asked him about his daily ritual, the man said, “Oh, that’s my Trouble Tree. I make it a habit each day to figuratively hang up the troubles of the day on that tree before going inside.” The point is to make a conscious effort before getting home to mentally and emotionally shift gears.
Change uniforms. It’s helpful to change clothes and freshen up when you first get home. Kiss your wife, hug the kids, then change into your comfy clothes. Wash your face. As simple as this sounds, this is hard for me. My wife still has to remind me to do this because I tend to just plop down. But it makes a huge difference in changing your frame of mind from the work day.
Screens down, eyes up. I discuss this in my ebook, 7 Ways To Supercharge Your Family This Week. It simply means that if you’re watching TV, working on your computer, or reading your tablet or smartphone (all preferably Apple devices) and a family member wants to talk with you, put the screen down and look at the person talking to you. And no phones at the table during mealtime!
Use that pause button! One of the best things that happened in our marriage was getting our first DVR. I could be deeply engrossed in a show, but when Gail wanted to interrupt, I simply hit the pause button on the remote. I didn’t miss a thing and she got top priority. Pure gold! That functionality is available now in just about all devices and formats. Use it. It shows you truly value the person talking to you.
Admit when you’ve drifted. Nobody does this stuff perfect. I often have every intention of giving Gail or one of my kids my full attention when they’re speaking. Then a thought sideswipes me and I’m mentally gone. As soon as I’m aware that I’ve missed those last few words or sentences, I interrupt whomever is talking to me. I apologize, admit I got distracted, and ask them to please repeat the part I just missed. Better to own it than to get busted when your spouse says, “Are you listening? What did I just say?!” The worst.
I genuinely want to be fully engaged and attentive to my family. You do, too. It shows honor, respect, courtesy, and love when we give them our all. Develop your own rituals and reminders to do a better job of this starting today.
Question: What hints do you have that have helped you to give your family your full attention when you're home? Share your answer in the comments below.