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Happy Friday! 

Friday’s are going to be fun.  The Weekly Round-up Newsletter for the Blog goes out today (and if you haven’t subscribed to it yet, do so here!), so you can catch up on anything you missed. **Don’t want to miss out on anything? Click “RSS” above to add my blog to you RSS reader for daily updates.**

The other fun thing about Fridays?  The Weekend Challenge! 

(Um, Sarah, this blog has only been live since Tuesday…what the heck is the weekend challenge, and how do I possibly get out of it?  Cause my doctor can send a note.)

Have no fear; this shouldn’t hurt too much.

The In Your Corner Weekend Challenge is an opportunity to try something new, or to do more of that maybe gets neglected, within your relationship and/or family.  It’s about setting a positive mentality for the weekend ahead, encouraging connectedness, support, and fun.

So what is your first Weekend Challenge?

Quality Time!

Yes, Quality Time.  I think we often view quality time in one of two ways: Either it’s this elusive thing that we like in theory but do not have the energy or time for in actuality, or it’s something we feel we get too much of as it is.  If you’re the former, enter The Weekend Challenge.  If you’re the latter, I argue that maybe your quality time is more of a quantity time, and I’ve got some easy fixes below.

Quality time is often a soapbox issue for me.  I think it is highly underrated, and research agrees.  Quality time, done in the right way with a few helpful guidelines, can have a huge impact on your relationship and family.  It helps to reduce conflict between couples and to protect intimacy over the long-term.  Children who experience one-on-on quality time with their parent(s) on a regular basis exhibit less negative attention seeking behavior (see: trantrums, general mischief, and everything else they do that makes you scream, “No!”).  Family members report a greater sense of support and connectedness within their family unit.  Yes, even the teenagers.  While they may have to roll their eyes whilst doing so, teens actually report wanting to spend just as much time with their parents and families as younger children.  And as I mentioned Tuesday, these teens reap the positive benefits well through young adulthood, exhibiting less negative and more adaptive behaviors.

But Sarah, we don’t have the time.  Or the energy.  And we could never agree on an activity.  Thanks, but no thanks.  (While this blog template may appear limited and basic, it can read your minds.  All mindreading capabilities supported by Wix.com).

That is why this is the Weekend “Challenge.”  It is intended to challenge you.  Quality time requires just as much coordination and creativity as date night or a long shower, and it’s equally worth the effort.

This Is How We Do It

Yes, this is me, and yes, this is shameless self promotion of how cute I once was.But no, this does not count as quality time.  You do get extra points for incorporating onesies, though.

Yes, this is me, and yes, this is shameless self promotion of how cute I once was.
But no, this does not count as quality time. You do get extra points for incorporating onesies, though.

So what does this all-mighty Quality Time look like? It follows some of the basic tenants of a Family Meeting: a time for you and your partner or family to get together with no distractions (no cell phones, iPads, video games, etc.). (Video games chosen as the quality time activity are, of course, allowed, as is the TV for movie night; try to balance electronics based quality time with other unplugged activities).  There is no judging, criticism, or fighting.  Emphasize listening to what others have to say, using kind words, and being positive and encouraging. **Download a Free Family Meeting Guide here!**

For Couples: This is a great opportunity to practice an often neglected skill-set: listening.  Focus on what your partner is saying instead of what your response is going to be.

For Families: There is no teaching.  Play in and of itself is valuable for children, and removing the quizzing element (What color is this?  How many is that?) from some instances of play teaches children that you’re interested in them, not just what they know.  With older children, allow this to be an opportunity to focus on what they think and feel, not the accuracy of what they know.

You can introduce quality time formally to your partner or family.  Acknowledging “special family/play time” with children can be especially impactful, as this helps them differentiate it as something unique and exciting.  Use this as an opportunity to review rules and answer any questions.  If you’ve opted for one-on-one parent-child Quality Time, explain how each/every other weekend you will switch so that each child and parent has their time together.

If this formality isn’t necessarily for you, than just skip ahead to the planning stage and model the types of behaviors you want to see.  Praise listening and waiting your turn to speak, regard everyone’s suggestions positively, and discourage judging or criticism.

So What Are We Going To Do?

For families, let your kids choose the activity.  Within a Family Meeting, encourage them to suggest a few things they would like to do with you.  Offer some parameters or suggestions to help them choose an activity you can actually do, like a 3-hour activity within 20 miles of the house that costs under $25. As the parent, you have the final say and can select the option best suited for this weekend and save the other activities for subsequent weekends.

For couples, the same rules may apply.  Seeing as couples report fighting over what to watch on TV more than anything else, choosing an activity you’re both excited about may be challenging. Each partner can suggest 3 activities, and then flip a coin to assign weekends.  If it’s heads, you get to pick one of your activities for this weekend and your partner will elect next weekend’s activities.  Bonus: this idea is also an excellent way to set up date nights.

And That’s It! 

Now you can go, do, and revel in the fun and unique personalities that make your relationship and family what it is!  Over time, you’ll reap all of those protective benefits in a way that just feels like good ol’ fashioned family fun.

Have questions about how to maximize on quality time?  Fitting it in as co-parents, single parents, and military couples or families with extended time away from each other can be challenging.  Call, text, or email me with your questions or concerns.