Remember seeing a rainbow as a kid and trying to find the end with the pot of gold? Ever since my wife and I had kids, that's what sleep is like - always hoping, never satisfied. We recently added baby number 3 to our family, and sleep has never seemed so necessary yet so unattainable. When my two oldest kids decided to wake up before 6am for the third day in a row, I wasn’t thrilled. However, I sensed God telling me to take advantage of this early morning time. Instead of letting them run wild while I attempted to make a cup of coffee (like usual), all three of us played with Legos for the first fifteen minutes of the day. It was an unexpected joy.
Far too often we tend to miss those opportunities to actively engage our kids. We would probably all agree that it's important to spend quality time with our family, but it seems so difficult to make that time happen between busy schedules, schoolwork, jobs, sports, hobbies, and Netflix.
HOW DO WE MAKE QUALITY TIME?
"You cannot schedule quality time." At least not according to author and speaker Jenn Wilkins. Instead, she believes that quality time comes out of the quantity of time that you spend together as a family. We can say, “Tonight we will have a game night together as a family” and give our family a couple hours together. But we can’t truly say, “Tonight we will all laugh and enjoy being with each other.”
She noted that Deuteronomy 6:7 says we should instruct and disciple our children “When you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.” We should actively spend time in community as a family. The best way to have quality time together is by spending as much time together as possible (for more on this, listen Jenn Wilkin's workshop from the 2016 Gospel Coalition Women’s Conference, "How to Raise an Alien Child").
WHAT ABOUT ALL THE EXTRA THINGS OUR KIDS ARE INVOLVED IN?
There’s no doubt kids and teenagers are BUSY. Author and youth director Cameron Cole outlines a practical decision-making process to help parents think through these opportunities in his article, “Four Questions Parents Should Ask of Extra-Curricular Activities.” I appreciated that Cole doesn’t demonize extracurricular activities, but instead he tries to help us view them in light of the Gospel. It was good for me to think through an activity as a part of the family’s calling and ministry in the world.
When Can We find time together?
My family's early morning Lego party helped me to realize how sacred our time together can be. Where can we find more time like this together? Here's two things I’ve been personally challenged with recently:
- Say "no" in order to say "yes." Make a habit of saying “no” to things that distract or undermine our family time (even if they’re fun or good things!). Say "no" to the list of everything that takes "just one more minute!" Say "no" to checking email for the 10th time today. Say "no" to the unimportant to say "yes!" to what matters.
- Be 100% present wherever we are. Put down the iPhone and turn off the TV (or unplug it and move it into the closet!). Build a pillow fort with the kids, go on a walk, explore your neighborhood, ask questions, and then let them respond.
Time is the one resource we can't make more of. How will you spend yours?