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Busy Balancing Life

November 4, 2012, 10:06 PM by Peggy Moyer

Busy Balancing Life

If you run into someone at the grocery store or on the sidewalk and you ask how they're doing, you're likely going to hear the word "busy".

More people seem to say they are busier now than ever before. And yet, we all still have the same 168 hours in a week we did years ago. So what's changed?

Brian and Jennifer Tolk live just outside of Sioux Falls. Family game night doesn't happen too often because their three kids - ages 15, 12 and seven - attend three different schools and they're all involved with activities.

"There's very few times that we have a night completely free. Maybe a Friday night or a Saturday night here and there," Brian Tolk said.

And it's not just the kids' schedules that keep them hopping. Brian and Jennifer both work full time jobs that occasionally exceed the 40 hour work week.

"Work-wise, sometimes we get busy where we have to work additional hours and that makes me feel guilty because it's taking away from family time sometimes," Jennifer Tolk said.

But the Tolks work to maintain a balance between all of the activities for the kids and time as a family.

"We try to have dinners together and most nights we're able to accomplish that with most of us here," Jennifer Tolk said.

Sitting around the dinner table is one of the most important activities a family can do, according to family therapist Kristiana Benson. She says children who eat dinner with their families have better grades, better self-esteem and are less likely to get into trouble.

"If a kid knows, he belongs or she belongs, then they don't need to find that elsewhere," Benson said.

Benson says the Internet is one of the reasons people are busier these days. However, the Tolks use it to their advantage.

"Definitely communication is key. We do have our online calendar. He can see it from work and I can see it from work," Jennifer Tolk said.

But like most people, they occasionally double book. Benson says that's when revisiting your priorities and having the discussion in front of your kids can be valuable.

"Why do I feel the need to do that? What's the motivation? Is it benefiting me? Is it benefiting my family? It is okay to say no. And it also demonstrates to your children that you don't over commit yourself, but that you commit yourself to what you do need to follow through with," Benson said.

The Tolks say life is good and as long as their kids keep up their grades and enjoy the activities they're in, they won't make any changes. But they are fully prepared to re-prioritize should the "busy" schedule take its toll.

Benson recommends parents give each child at least 45 minutes of their time a week to insure a child's sense of belonging and importance within their lives and families.

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