Be Intentional in 2021 – 5 tips for intentional family-time.

Plan your Annual Calendar around those who are most important to you.   

How often do you prioritize the needs of others over yourself?  How many times have you cancelled that afternoon walk or gym session because a work colleague needed your assistance at the last minute?  Perhaps the commitment you made was to your daughter (or son for that matter) to spend time with them afterschool because you planned that into the schedule last week already only to break that promise (again) because something urgent came up.  I often joke that I am married to my work and Caryn is my mistress. I love what I do and could work all day every day and not be bored. This is not an excuse to prioritize work time over family time though. 

I remember some years back when I told Caryn I would be home early enough to cook dinner.  Teniel was barely walking and Chloë was only just reaching her early growth milestones that parents track. Caryn’s response shook me to my core. “Neville” she said “don’t make promises you can’t keepRather be home early and surprise us than make plans to be home early only to disappoint us with a last-minute call saying you’re running late.”  I knew she was right, and I knew that I had developed a habit of being inconsistent with my family commitments.  If I can make time for golf, hunting trips with the boys and cycling weekends away, then there is no excuse as to why I cannot make time to be home when I commit to being home.

Caryn, being the strong woman she is, has no difficulty sharing her concerns and having open, robust conversations about what is upsetting her. These conversations allow me to reflect and become a better husband and father. It was a conversation like that which resulted in us planning our family time annually in advance. Yes, plan family time annually in advance and get agreement within the home.

Over the month of December take a moment and look at the holidays and vacations that are happening over the 2021 year. The best time to plan 2021 events is now, as we are spending more time with family and loved ones.  If this last year has taught us anything, it is to value quality time and be appreciative of what we have. Let’s be intentional and make the most of the holidays and long weekends we have coming up.

Here is what I would recommend you do over this festive season to ensure more intentional family time throughout the whole of 2021.

  1. Look at the calendar and identify where the holidays fall so that you can plan long weekends away. There a six of them in 2021 if you include Thanksgiving and Christmas Weekends.  Planning early means you could secure a better rate and you have something to look forward to.
  2. When are important birthdays? Mark those off too and plan to be with the loved ones.  They may not remember the event, but they will remember you were there.  There is nothing worse than planning a weekend cycling trip only to find out after you have paid the non-refundable deposit that it’s over your daughter’s birthday weekend.  On the other hand, there is nothing better than planning your afternoon and fetching your child from school as a surprise on her birthday because you were able to be intentional about it.
  3.  Now plan your annual leave to coincide with your spouses (or significant other), close friends and around children sporting events.  Block the time out of your calendar and if you need to submit your leave to human resources, then submit it in January.  They will be impressed, and chances are they will approve it as no one else had put in leave as yet. 😀
  4. Now block me time.  What are your personal goals and aspirations, block time for that!
  5. The rest of the open spaces in your calendar is for building your career and mastering your work.

By planning your calendar around family and personal goals you will have prioritized activities around what is important to you.  This will keep you motivated and aligned to your objectives.  You will also find that by communicating this to your immediate family they will be more supportive when you are at work because they know in two weeks’ time there is a long weekend and the whole family is on a road trip together.

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