As a mom of a 14, 11 and 7 year old, I can appreciate the busy schedules of most families. Things like school, sports and other extracurricular activities can quickly fill a weekly schedule. As school is in full swing, conversations with my husband can be consumed with determining where each child needs to go and when.
I’m keenly aware that busy schedules such as these can rapidly encroach on family relationships. Weeks can pass and interactions between siblings can be reduced to arguments over who gets the bathroom first or who gets to use the computer. Conversations between parent and child are sparked by the note that came home from the teacher, the failing test score or a questionable text conversation.
I don’t know about you, but I desire meaningful conversations with my kids. Conversations that give each of us insight into how the other thinks and feels about life. Conversations that help to embed a relevant faith in my child leading them further down a path toward Christ.
In all transparency, there are seasons I would give myself a passing grade in the area of investing a relevant faith in my kids. Then there are seasons I would flunk my tail right out of Parenting University.
In the whirlwind of everyday life, how do we practically invest faith in our kids through the busy rhythms of life? In my experience, there are 3 things every parent can do to leverage the opportunities we have within the whirlwind.
Define Time Parameters
Sit down and define your time boundaries now. How much time apart is too much? The older our kids get, the more stuff fills their schedule. From sports to party invitations, chances are good you have something on the agenda multiple evenings a week. How much is too much? Several years ago we determined that our family will have a minimum of 3 meals around the table a week. That meal could be breakfast, lunch or dinner. But it had to be a meal where everyone sat down & no cell phones/toys. This time boundary has helped us to know when we can say ‘Yes’ and when we say ‘Not this time’. There are seasons we’ve stayed within this boundary, and seasons we’ve not. Our family is better when we do.
This is a discipline where I’ve had to grow. By nature I’m not a highly disciplined person. I’m no fan of finely tuned agendas outside of work. But in this season of our family, finely tuned agendas are a matter of survival. My best response is to make the most of the time we have. That means I’ve got to look ahead. Chances are good you already think through where your kids need to be and when. But what if you also looked at the schedule through a different lens? What if you also looked for opportunities for time together? What if you planned something for this time so it isn’t consumed by the insignificant? In this season, our family is better when we protect Friday night. It’s the one consistent night of the week where everyone is home together. When we make it a “no football-game, no-sleepover, no-friends-come-over-to-hang” kind of night and plan activities for the family, we intentionally invest that time as a family.
No matter how busy a schedule can get, there are two times in every day where most families are together. Morning and night. As the family is up and getting ready for the day, there is a prime opportunity to encourage and build up your kids. No matter how the previous night ended, today is a new day. And it can be great. When we’re intentional with this time and leverage the opportunity to lift our kids’ spirits, their day is off to a great start.
Bedtime is another common time where the whole family is together. Your kids need to know that no matter how crazy the day was, things always look better in the morning. Bedtimes are a great time to make yourself available for counseling your kids. When we truck our tired selves upstairs and are part of the bedtime routine with our kids, we are present and ready for these moments. When we gather them together, sit them down in the hall and pray over needs, we close the day on a united front. And somewhere deep within our hearts are knit together a little more.
These 3 simple actions can help parents to protect, create and leverage time to be present and available to invest a relevant faith in our kids within the busy whirlwind called life.