Are you longing for more connection in your home? Today I would like to share with you a little tip with big returns for you and your family. Trust me when I say that it can take you a very long way in keeping the soul of your family alive and well. Applying this mind-body tip wins wars!
“Get off your phone” is a phrase commonly heard in our home. Most often that statement is directed from my mouth to the ears of my kids. But let’s be honest, we adults are guilty of the same addictive behavior. We, adults, have to fight to keep away from the technology struggle bus just as much.
The neuroscience is conclusive; our brains are addicted to our phones. Each notification we receive, or email we send, anything we comment on, like or share, releases a hit of dopamine (a feel-good hormone for the brain) just like a basket of fries, a slice of chocolate cake or a good glass of wine has the power to do. After a long day at work or school, it’s no wonder our little family of four can easily separate into corners of the house, sitting in our silos with the comforting blue glow of a screen on our face.
Yet, as image-bearers of God, we were created to connect and to create. Technology has made both connecting and creating a little easier for us to do, but at what cost? Although we can’t deny the creativity we see in the realm of technology, it appears to be coming at the cost of real connection.
Here’s my tip to winning the battle for connection in your home.
Two words: Family time.
Family time is something we now take seriously in our home. It’s time we set aside to connect on purpose. Don’t confuse family time with bedtime or dinnertime. Bedtime is a different and beautiful practice we can talk about another day. Dinnertime has a lot to do with talking and connecting while metabolizing food. Metabolizing food makes our brains calm down so we can feel safe. But family time is more for metabolizing the wounds and wins of the day. But here’s the thing, family time requires….(brace yourself)….some sort of light activity.
Oh man. I think I just lost some of you. Hang in there a moment and breathe. Stay with me.
I know at the end of a long, hard work and school day the last thing anyone is thinking of is applying more time or energy to anything. Again, this is why the pull of our phones is so appealing. But we mustn’t forget we are the people of God, called to follow The Holy Spirit into healing those who hurt, binding up those who bleed and setting captives free. The harder our assignment, the greater the grace we will be given. What greater thing is there to fight for than our families?
And before you roll your eyes and say “Yeah. We’ve tried that. It didn’t work” or “We don’t have time for that,” Let me invite you to do it a new way– a kind and simple, brain-body kind of way.
What if I told you ten minutes is all it takes?
WHAT YOU DO:
1.Turn off all phones. (Leave in another room is best)
2. Grab a soft indoor play ball (my family loves these Koosh balls. We have many of them all around our house). Make sure it’s a ball that is easy to catch.
3. Sit apart from each other in couches, chairs or on the floor.
4. Begin to toss the ball back and forth
5. OPTIONAL: If this is too easy, you can try throwing and catching with your weaker hand, or just one hand, or even trying it with your eyes closed. The point is to activate and challenge your brain just a bit.
Yup. That’s it. Just toss the ball. You will spend the first few moments probably in quiet as your brain just gets used to the task of catching and throwing the ball. As the left side of your brain becomes occupied with the task of throwing and catching you can begin to ask some of those basic connecting questions like:
-What was the best part of your day?
-What was the hardest part of your day?
-Did anything make you laugh really hard today?
-How are things with your friend _______?
You get the point.
What’s happening in your brain and body is almost magical. The steady rhythm of tossing the ball back and forth becomes a rocking chair for your brain – it subdues our stress hormones (cortisol, adrenaline) and while accessing our PFMC (Prefrontal Medial Cortex), the place in our brain where high reasoning, love, and empathy occurs. When tossing a ball, you have easier access to the heart scares or wins your loved one is carrying around. The listener also receives brain love in a really cool way too! It comes in the form of empathy. As your brain is busy connecting with the task at hand, you are less likely to overreact to the information you hear.
Always keep IN MIND and on your mind that the battle belongs to the Lord. The first and longest running battle in history has always been against the design of the family. Just ask Adam and Eve. Satan may have won that battle, but we know Jesus wins all of our wars; present, past or future.
If you are a single mom or a single dad reading this, don’t give up on the battle for health and wholeness in your home. God’s grace is bigger and sufficient for you. His love will fill all the gaps. God loves you and your family, big or small.
When our family gets the win because we kept “playing ball,” God gets the credit, and we get a Godly family legacy – a testimony for generations to come!
I’m sad to say that we started family time later than we should’ve in our home, but at least we started. Although in the beginning, it felt a little awkward and perhaps even silly for four people over the age of eight to be doing, it has now become something our family craves, enjoys, and keeps us connected.
Give it a try and let us know how it goes by leaving a comment below. I think we are all going to be pleasantly surprised at the power of play.