One of the first Blogs posted on FamilyNavigation.com was Balanced Family Life – Our View . This was written 3 months prior to quitting my job and moving the family to a smaller town. We were looking for improvements in our family life and while we are far from completing our journey, I thought I would take the year end to review our successes and to point out things we still need to work on. When looking back on what we had hoped to accomplish we were a little naive on the length of time it would take to succeed. The first list looks at what has been successful so far (let’s start with the positive). The second list looks at the goals we have not been able to achieve as of yet and what we will do to improve on this. We understood that our vision of a balanced lifestyle was going to evolve over a long period of time and the third list includes new challenges that we wish to at least start this year. All of our goals are long term changes we need to maintain once we accomplish them.
- Time spent together: We have arranged our working schedules so one of us can be with the kids at all times plus a few outings a week where the whole family is together. Instead of one parent spending the majority of each day with the kids, we have equal parenting, working, and some quiet time to ourselves daily. A side goal is for Lisa and I to get out of the house alone together more often but we can work on that. As for spending time as a family; this has been a great success.
- Sharing Responsibilities: On the same note, Lisa and I share most of the responsibilities around the home. We both do our share of cooking, cleaning, and most other tasks. We will help each other when one of us needs a break from chores and family responsibilities. Working together breaks some of the monotony we would have if each of us had set tasks. Neither of us particularly enjoys these chores (cooking we find somewhat enjoyable) but they have to get done.
- Location: We are very happy in the environment to which we now find ourselves. Nothing against the city but it is just not for us. We identified what town would be best for our family and we have chosen very wisely.
- Keeping on budget: I think we knew that we would be able to keep on budget as we have always been able to so in the past. The key to our success is that we take time to establish what the budget is and in this case we know what our limits are to get through this period of low income. It is not always easy to live on such a modest budget but we enjoy the benefits of doing so.
- Keeping to our original plan and schedule: We left our old lifestyle with a 2 year plan and we are exactly where we thought we would be at this point. We have a lot of work ahead of us but we are confident that if our plan continues to go so well we will be successful.
- Reduction of environmental stress: By moving to a smaller town and managing our schedule wisely we have reduced a lot of the environmental stress that was creeping into our lives. We are sleeping much better than we used to and we do not seem to be irritated as often. While we still have some work to do in this area (see below) I think that we are on the right track.
What we still need to work on
- Health: I was pretty naive thinking that the move and improved attitudes would result in instant improvement of health. I guess I thought that being surrounded with activities I love, and being happier with our lifestyle would automatically result in healthier habits. Getting time to exercise has been tough, periods of improved eating habits has been followed by old habits creeping back in, and in result the weight has not come off. This is my number one goal this year as my overall health has to improve for the rest of the balanced family life plan to succeed.
- Exercise: A list of my top 10 favourite ways to exercise would only include outdoor activities. When we moved in the summer the time I had allocated for exercise was first thing in the morning and in the evening (when the kids are sleeping) plus energetic activities with the kids throughout the day. When Autumn came and it was dark in the morning and evening the outdoor activities stopped and I failed to replace them with indoor activities. This has to improve and I have a plan in place to make this happen.
- Eating better: I know what it takes to eat better I just really struggle with it long term. I am getting more help this year as going alone has not worked for me. My determination is at an all time high and this should with help my long term goal.
- Weight loss: I just want to feel more alive. If I eat better and exercise more I should lose the weight and have more energy to do all the family activities that I have wanted to do for so long.
- Positive Outlook: This has improved a lot but there are still times where we let some of the everyday adversity affect us. I think we are on the right track with this one but again I think I was a bit naive with the speed that this would be fixed. We have 3 very young kids that demand a lot of our attention and it is near impossible to be at our best all the time. We still want to feel happy and positive more often but we must realize that this lifestyle, as great as it is, is still challenging and often overwhelming.
Increase our environmental conscience: We are ‘greenies’ at heart and we are probably above average when it comes to our ‘footprint’ on this earth, but it could be a lot better. I feel that the environmental movement is disorganized and it is really unclear to what steps should be made for real change. We want to research this and change some of our habits that will have some real effect. Once we clarify our thoughts on the environment I can see getting involved with these causes.
Reduce clutter: We live a modest lifestyle and yet we have still collected so much stuff (mostly for free or very cheap). We have been pretty good of passing on this stuff but we have never focussed on getting rid of most of the unnecessary clutter hanging around our house. We would like to make it a priority and see how much stuff we can really do without.
Increase our social calendar: It is easy to feel isolated with this type of family lifestyle. We are working at home and spending a lot of time as a family. While this is something we really want it means very little time with other adults. I am a social misfit who quite often avoids groups of people but Lisa suffers without a social life away from home. In all honesty while I may not be confortable all the time in a social setting, I need to do more with the non kid folk.
Get involved in the community: Our new community is much tighter nit than the one we left and that is great. There is a lot of opportunity to be involved and we want to start the process this year. With the age of our kids we realize we cannot do too much and fit everything else into our schedule but we can at least start.
I think a review of goals is a very good procedure to do periodically and we will review this list in time to make sure we are on the right track towards our balanced family life.