My innermost deepest algorithm confirms that I'm no fan of flying, after a fair share of crazy flights to last a lifetime. But a twelve-hour coast to coast tour took Yirong and me thru connecting flights in Minneapolis and Salt Lake City, plus the mandatory six hours in the air, and the time change was all worth it to be with family.
As I get older, I realize that only two things matter to be happy, family and health. As our time gets squeezed by the demands of work, school and technological distractions, carving out space to spend quality time together is essential. We learned this first hand while visiting the kids and grandchildren for the holidays. We think that leisure time is an essential human right, and we learned that family vacations play vital roles in bonding and with shared memories.
This year-end holidays and festivities were a wake-up call for after taking off to be with our family. We confirmed that children and grandkids who spend time with parents and grandparents build a positive sense of self-worth. When children see that they are valued, they feel more positive about themselves. Activities don't have to be expensive or luxurious, and gifts do not need to be expensive to have an impact.
A family that eats together stays together, and quality time during the holidays allow us to get to know each other up close and personal, to strengthen our relationships. The image of the happy family is holiday togetherness, where we sat with over thirty friends and relatives to enjoy our feast, and everyone was temporarily detached from their devices. Later, we took time to play chess and participate in physical activities, rather than watching TV or playing video games.
The age-old desire to achieve work-life balance features strongly by taking a break from the daily hustle and bustle. Outings and gatherings also represented a rare opportunity to have time to share with them away from work and school commitments that often encroach into workday evenings and weekends.
The Internet and mobile devices allow individuals to work remotely, the borders between family and work have become increasingly closer. People are not only staying later at work but have also invited it into their private spaces. Never take up work-related messages before breakfast with the kids yesterday, or pause while building blocks with a 2-year-old wizard for a smartphone glance with an urgent message because it grows moments into hours. The job must never offer more stimulation, guidance, and a sense of belonging, over our home, so never allow our homes to have too much work and too little time to play.
The kid’s schedules are increasingly filled with enrichment classes and for better or for worse, many families spend their weekends running from one class or event to another. While big businesses trying to convince us that we have to pay for the quality time. Everyday household chores, meals, and running errands are special moments, unplanned, unstructured social interactions that serve the important relationship-building functions that parents seek as quality time.
All kids are interested in jumping into puddles and getting dirty, plain and simple. Some of the best family bonding time we enjoyed was staying in a forest without TV, Radio or the news. It's not about expensive destinations or activities. It's about time spent doing mundane, irrelevant and unexciting things together as a real family.
We hung out in the pool, enjoyed delicious homemade dumplings and other treats, with the with the family together. That is is what quality time is really made of. Until we create a society where family time is valued and honored with other needs, the home away from home during our travels seems to remain unfortunately as one of the few occasions we can have protected time to be just a family.
In fact, if we learn to say no and resist the urge of work or sending the kids to class, or if employers would only stop expecting work to be done beyond office hours, perhaps you don’t even need to go on vacations. Carving out 20 minutes where mobile phones are muted to listen to each other’s day could go a long way. What a wonderful world this would be.
Anytime there is an opportunity to consider radical change, I try to put myself in the shoes of the others. It’s better and easier to understand it that way. We enjoyed it so much, it was difficult to break away.