Life in the 21st century can get pretty hectic. Most people fill their days to the overflowing with jobs, commuting, kids’ activities, fitness goals, food preparation, home and garden maintenance, house chores, and more. Sometimes it almost feels like there is barely any time left to enjoy our families, and that can feel like a real loss.
If you are like me, you might wish you could just take a deep breath and slow things down a little. I am often inspired by the kind of life depicted in books and movies set in days gone by, and by stories told aloud about generations past – our grandparents and great-grandparents.
It seems that family life simply was different in the days of our ancestors, and that they even were less stressed. There are plenty of things they did back then that we do not do anymore, but maybe we should.
Let’s take a look:
1. Families ate meals together. Today’s helter-skelter schedules often make family mealtimes difficult to achieve, but just imagine the benefits of doing so. Spending time together, practicing social and conversational skills, and learning about one another’s passions and challenges might strengthen family bonds and help members grow as individuals.
2. Reading was a common pastime. Consider the benefits of reading — literature, pulp fiction, how-tos, classics, non-fiction, newspapers, westerns, mysteries, romances, memoirs and biographies — as an alternative to other forms of entertainment. Reading almost anything is useful for developing and maintaining language and critical thinking skills.
3. Neighbors got to know neighbors. The people next door, down the block, the next farm over, and around the corner all have distinct personalities, strengths and quirks. We might become lifelong friends or we might keep them at arm’s length. They could turn out to be courteous and neighborly, or thorns in our side. But whatever they are like, we will never know if we do not give them more consideration than a cursory nod while we’re setting trash out by the curb once a week.
4. Families and friends played games together. A game of Monopoly, chess or crazy eights is a rewarding way to spend time with a loved one. Children learn about strategy, good sportsmanship and decision-making. Adults of all ages keep their wits sharp and their focusing abilities strong. And games are just plain fun!