Books that Put Family First

By Kelly Quigley, REALTOR® Magazine

As the real estate market continues at a heated pace, it’s easy for work to consume all aspects of life. That’s why it’s more important than ever to set time aside for fun activities and quality time with family—after all, the strength of your family life is key to your professional success and personal happiness.

Al Mansell, 2005 president of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, chose “FamilyTime” as a central theme of his presidency to stress the importance for REALTORS® and those they serve to focus on the family. In keeping with that theme, here are three books that will help you make the most of every moment with your loved ones:

  • Catch a Fish, Throw a Ball, Fly a Kite: 21 Timeless Skills Every Child Should Know (and Any Parent Can Teach!)
  • The Organized Parent: 365 Simple Solutions to Managing Your Home, Your Time, and Your Family’s Life
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families

Catch a Fish, Throw a Ball, Fly a Kite: 21 Timeless Skills Every Child Should Know (and Any Parent Can Teach!) By Jeffrey Lee, M.D. (Three Rivers Press, 2005)

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Parenting is harder than it looks, especially when it comes to teaching kids those activities that you never learned or haven’t quite mastered. Things like building a sand castle, spinning a yo-yo, or throwing a Frisbee. They’re skills author Jeffrey Lee says every parent can and should teach their kids, and luckily he’s providing guidance to make that job a lot easier. This light-hearted instructional book focuses on one skill per chapter, and tells you everything you need to know—complete with illustrations, safety tips, and jokes—to turn you into a fun, effective teacher. Lee shares experiences as a parent of two daughters, bringing entertaining perspective and first-hand knowledge to each skill. “This book is an invitation for you to act like a kid again,” Lee writes. “That’s an offer you can’t refuse.”

Tips From the Book:

  • Know your kid. Hopes, dreams, and expectations can cloud your ability to see your kids for who they really are. To be a good teacher, you have to understand them without judging. Are they graceful or clumsy? Do they have a short attention span? How is their endurance? When you teach the kids in front of you—not the kids you wish they would be—you’ll save frustration and know when real progress is made.
  • Have fun. If kids aren’t having fun, it’s hard to keep them engaged. Learning new skills is hard work, so it’s up to you to keep things light and fun. The first rule to doing this is to have fun yourself. If your attitude is grim and single-minded, don’t expect your kids to have much fun either.
  • It’s not just about the end result. Adults sometimes focus too much on the end result. Kids, however, take pride in smaller achievements along the way. Remember that each step toward learning a new skill is a success in itself—as well as a chance to tell your kids how well they’re doing.

The Organized Parent: 365 Simple Solutions to Managing Your Home, Your Time, and Your Family’s Life By Christina Baglivi Tinglof (McGraw-Hill, 2002)

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After returning home from a tiresome day at work, who wants to wade through junk drawers looking for a child’s lost permission slip or spend the evening rounding up and washing the family’s laundry? This book is devoted to time savers and organizing tips to reduce stress at home and free up time that could be used for better things, like spending quality time with your family. From getting your closets and bathrooms in order to minimizing the chaos of the morning rush, you’ll find advice on making your daily tasks less work and your home life more peaceful. There are even tips to simplify vacation planning with kids, clothes shopping, and keeping track of bills.

Tips From the Book:

  • Streamline your mornings. Busy families everywhere complain of not being able to leave the house on time in the morning. Instead of waking up earlier, take 15 minutes before you go to bed to get everything in order for the morning ahead. Have your children set the table for breakfast, lay out their school clothes, and take a bath—your morning and theirs will be less rushed.
  • Create a laundry center. Set up a spot next to your washer and dryer where you can reach all of your cleaning supplies, treat stains, fold towels, and sort clothes. If you have the room, invest in a three-bin laundry sorter and have each family member deposit his or her laundry in the appropriate bin by a certain time, say 8 a.m., on designated laundry days.
  • Have kids help with dinner. Let children explore their interests in the kitchen rather than forcing them to do a certain job. If they’d rather make the salad dressing than wash the lettuce, let them. The most important thing is that children help out with food preparation in the kitchen—and with chores, like clearing the table. It will save you time, and teach them responsibility and meal-planning skills.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families By Stephen R. Covey (Golden Books Adult Publishing, 1998)

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No family is perfect. But perfection shouldn’t be what you’re after. Rather, your goal should be to communicate well with family members, overcome challenges effectively, and build trust by keeping promises. That’s the main premise of this book, which looks at how to create a strong family bond in a turbulent world by adopting the seven habits. The title and the book is modeled after Covey’s popular The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, featuring the same seven habits. Each lesson is illustrated with stories from families and practical insights from the author. “Good families—even great families—are off track 90 percent of the time,” Covey writes. “The key is that they have a sense of determination. They know what the ‘track’ looks like. And they keep coming back to it time and time again.”

Tips From the Book:

  • Understand your priorities. In the midst of work pressures, many people are blind to the real priority of family. But remember that your professional role is temporary; you will retire someday and be replaced, and the company will go on. Your role in your family will never end, nor will your influence. Family is perhaps the only permanent role in life.
  • Learn together. In today’s world, the pace of life and the growth of technology are incredible. That’s why it’s so important for there to be a family tradition and culture that focuses on continual learning. You can learn together by practicing a new sport, reading books together about a family member’s hobby, or even teaching and singing campfire songs and on a car ride.
  • Be forgiving. When you truly forgive, you can open the channels through which trust and unconditional love flow. You also remove a major obstacle that keeps others from changing. When you don’t forgive, you become a roadblock to change.