The Secret to a Strong Family Even When Work is Demanding

Three steps you can use to prioritize family so you can have thriving relationships with your partner, children, and grandchildren.

Have you ever been so focused on your company or career that you let family time slip? It can be a struggle to balance the needs of work and home. But strong relationships need to be built and cared for.

So how do you fit it all in?

In this post, I’ll share the three steps I use to prioritize my family – you can use these to invest in your own relationships. Let me start by telling you about one of my favorite ways to connect with my loved ones – a tradition called “Papa Days.”

Kids Call the Shots

Each year, I schedule one dedicated day for each of my adult children, their spouses, and my six (soon to be seven) grandchildren. I want to create memories, and I want to be an important part of their life forever. These days are often planned months in advance.

On your Papa Day, I’m at your service. We start with breakfast, enjoy activities together, and end with dinner. It’s all tailored to your interests and desires. You get to call the shots for the entire day.

My phone only comes out to take photos and videos. I compile those into a short video and send them to the parents of my grandchildren, ensuring that these memories are captured forever.

Papa Days are different for each person. Here are a few examples:

  • One grandchild started with a special breakfast and trip to Build-A-Bear.
  • Another grandson wanted to ride a “real” train, so we planned a day trip through upstate New York on Amtrak.
  • My six-year-old grandson requested indoor skydiving. Can you imagine our wide-eyed wonder as we experienced that thrill together?
  • With my adult children and their spouses, we’ve done horseback riding, Hamilton, movies, Home Depot trips, and a winery tour in the Finger Lakes.
  • We’ve even explored our own city – walking by the Niagara River and visiting the old train terminal that was very active in the early to mid 1900’s.
  • One Papa Day, my son-in-law shared his passions of cooking and woodworking with me. After brunch at a microbrewery, we shopped for supplies. We returned to his house to turn handmade wooden pens on his lathe and cook dinner. I served as sous chef.
  • We’ll often keep the grandkids for a few days each year and I’ll have Papa Day with one, while my wife Jean has Mimi Days with their siblings.

I cherish the memories we create and I know my children and grandchildren will too.

Sending a Clear Message

“Papa Days” are more than just dates reserved on my calendar. They let me live my values and demonstrate my commitment. I am showing my family what I believe:

You are important.

You are valued.

You are loved.

Our relationship deserves this dedicated time and space.

Create Your Own Tradition

It’s the perfect time of year to create or strengthen your own special ways of investing in your family, whether that’s a partner, children, nieces and nephews, or parents and siblings.

  1. Plan a Specific Date and Time. Just as you’d schedule an important business meeting or conference, set aside dedicated time for the individual. The frequency will vary based on your family’s size and your season of life and business.
  2. Personalize the Experience. Start by learning about their interests and passions so you can suggest things based on their preferences. Plan the day or outing together. It’s also helpful to understand how the person expresses and receives love. (The 5 Love Languages is a helpful framework.)
  3. Be Present. Disconnect to connect – silence your phone and put away screens. Be fully engaged to show the individual that they are your priority. One exception to the “No Phones” rule: Taking photos and videos to capture the memories!

Beyond Papa Days

I’m intentional to plan dedicated time, personalize, and be present outside of Papa Days as well.

For example, Jean and I facilitate an annual Couples Retreat at Red Horse Mountain Ranch in Idaho. The two of us reconnect and grow alongside the incredible couples who join us to invest in their relationships.

When I travel for work, I like to bring Jean or one of my adult children with me. They may be working alongside me or it’s sometimes just a chance for us to spend time together as they see the world.

But it doesn’t take an international trip or a full day of adventure. You can be intentional about connecting with loved ones through small actions. It can be as simple as taking a moment each day to send an encouraging note that you’re thinking of them.

How Do You Prioritize Family?

I’d love to hear how you build and nurture your own relationships. What traditions and activities have been a meaningful way for you and your loved ones to connect? Join our conversation on LinkedIn and let’s share ideas and experiences.

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