3. Prune your life
Doing less is definitely one way to free up time for meaningful moments. But it’s hard to scale back when we’re always gearing up for the next day or season. Looking back on a project with a critical eye is a common business practice for a reason: It helps you move forward better and smarter.
Every January, I spend a few evenings before bed journaling about the previous year—what worked, what didn’t. I literally list activities, big and little, and circle the ones that brought me and my family a lot of joy and those that seemed to suck the joy out. Then we talk as a family about what to cut and what to grow for the current year. Sometimes we don’t all agree, but it can be surprising how much we do! —Diana
4. Bring back Sunday “dinner”
Establishing a routine for extended family gatherings means no one has to burden their overly burdened brain about the “when, where, who” details...details that sometimes cause us not to see one another. It can be Sunday or every other Friday or the first Monday of the month, pretzels and beer or doughnuts and coffee or board games and water. You can even Facetime out-of-towners. And if some weeks it’s a skeleton crew, well, that just might lead to some of the best talks of all.
We do Sunday lunch with our grown-up kids, grandkids, their great-grandmother, and a nephew, a niece, and her partner. Each person gets to choose the meal on their birthday week, but otherwise it’s usually something pretty simple and stretch-able like chili or pizza or just subs from a nearby place. All told, up to 12 people, sometimes as few as six, but we do it every week and it’s a high point for us. And, we like to think, for them. —Dan
5. Get off the sidelines
Not everyone is cut out to be the soccer coach. But marrying something you enjoy with a need at your child or grandchild’s school, church, troop or sports team can be triply rewarding: You’re doing something you enjoy, helping out, and spending time with a loved one. It may take a little experimenting to find the right fit, but we guarantee there’s a spot for you.
I recommend volunteering at one of your kids’—or grandkids’—events/sports/groups. Then you are spending time with them during a time you may just be sitting on the sidelines. —Elizabeth
6. Track your screen time
Nothing illustrates the first part of Newton’s first law of motion—an object at rest stays at rest—more clearly than a person on a couch. Sit down to look at your tablet, phone, or TV and it’s awfully hard to get up, even though we know these passive forms of entertainment are rarely soul filling. So turn off your TV and ringer and write a note, plan a gathering, interact with your family...you get the idea.
Pull, tear, or dynamite yourself away from the Internet. It’s tough! Nowadays many phones send you a screen-time report at the end of the week. Try to beat your previous week’s screen time each week—and by “beat,” I mean spend less time staring at your screen and more time starting pillow, water pistol, and snowball fights—or whatever your idea of “fun” is. —Ellen
7. Just say “yes”
Sometimes we automatically say “no” to invitations when we’re busy or stressed. Try responding with an enthusiastic “yes” instead of “maybe” or “we’ll see.” If that makes you a little anxious, make yourself a deal: Plan to stop by for a bit, knowing you can leave after 15 minutes or one beverage.
Start saying “yes" to more invitations, which could lead to more quality time with friends and family. I did this and it got me out of my rut! —Bonnie