I recently had a conversation with my Grandma and she mentioned that she wanted to spend more time together. She only lives 15 minutes from me, but I travel for work, so it is often hard to find the time to spend with her when I’m busy.
As I got to thinking about what she said, I realized I must stop making excuses and make her a priority.
The following Sunday after our conversation, I was in church the and someone made an announcement asking people to make quilts for foster kids. Although, I didn’t know how to make a quilt on my own, I immediately thought of my Grandma and what a perfect project that would be for us to do together and a reason for us to spend time together. I signed up to make two quilts right then and I called my Grandma to tell her the news. We set up times for me to come over and work on them together.
Over the next two months, I visited my grandma several times and we worked on the quilts together. We spent time talking, not rushing or being distracted by electronic devices, and focused on completing our quilts that are sure to benefit foster children. It was so much fun!
It might be your parents, grandparents, kids, or friends that you want to spend more time with, but it just doesn’t seem to happen for one reason or another.
One reason people avoid creating connection opportunities is the fear of what you will fill your time together doing. Or maybe it’s because you (or the other person) isn’t so good at small talk and the fear of sitting there in silence is real.
Finding a project or activity you can do together can be an easy way to take these interactions out of the awkward zone and allow you to connect with each other, especially through service to others.
If you’ve never embarked on a project with someone, it can be daunting to pick an activity that will be fun for you both.
When you’re at a loss for what to do, try one of these activities next time:
Take a hike or go for a walk
Volunteer at the local food bank
Make a quilt or blankets for the hospital or local nursing home
Do some gardening
Bake treats and bring them to your local hospital or firehouse staff
Serve a meal at the local homeless shelter
Go fishing or hunting
Visit the local park and play (or watch the children play)
Interview each other as if you knew nothing about one another
Cook a meal
The opportunities are endless and all it takes is a little creativity to find something you both will enjoy.
Scheduling time with those who mean the most to you will ensure you take the time. Completing a project together that has a deadline will add just enough ‘pressure’ to make it a priority.
Spending time with loved ones has obvious benefits, but there may be a benefit that you haven’t considered. I recently watched a very interesting Ted Talk by psychologist Susan Pinker; she shared the story of an island called Sardinia where there are six times as many centenarians (people living over 100 years) as the mainland and ten times as many as North America. According to her, it’s not a sunny disposition or a low-fat, gluten-free diet that keeps the Islanders healthy and living over 100 years — it’s their emphasis on close personal relationships and face-to-face interactions.
If that isn’t enough of a reason, I know from personal experience, that spending quality time with people you love not only fills your heart, it also gives you even more energy to do the things that may have been your excuses to begin with.
Why wait? Schedule time in your calendar this week to spend with the people you love! Make connections a priority.