We are busy people.
Busy at work, busy at school, busy doing 'God's work.' Ministry, sports, jobs, extra curricular activities, oh, I could list and list and list. But I will spare you the list of things we are busy doing.
We are busy being busy. We are busy being important.
Creating time and space for family won't happen organically, it is created. In our busy lives it is genetically modified and unnaturally engineered if you will.
It's created! Be so intentional about this time that you even write it in your day planner and send yourself reminders. Creating space for the important things won't 'just happen.'
I'm about to get all up in someones junk, but I am willing to do it at the risk of families being fuller, richer and healthier. So here goes.......
*Carve out time for one meal a day together. Whatever the obstacle in the way... FIGURE IT OUT.
If it's your spouses meal time reactions, talk with him/her alone. Communicate the value you see in meal time together. If your spouse tends to use the time around the table as an opportunity to belittle, bash or condemn those gathered, you can't run from it... Talk in private.
In love, express your heart and apprehension for not enjoying meal time together. If they get pissed... DON'T GIVE UP!!! Revisit the topic when they cool down. Don't blame, condemn or insult. Lovingly remind them you are on the same team and want to do this with them.
Guess what?!?! Old habits die hard. If your spouse is used to being 'Grumpy Guss' at the table, it is just as much an opportunity for you to grow in your communication skills and support of your spouse.
If you are 'Grumpy Guss' reading this... pull your head out of the clouds and realize your family needs you. Your constant badgering about manners, rules, 'sit up straight,' 'Don't chomp,' 'chew with your mouth closed,' Why did you do that?!?!' 'Why did you do that?!?!' Can be met with love, compassion and wisdom from someone seeing your behavior. Don't worry about being so defensive and just listen. Tell your family you are sorry and ask for a second chance. Tell them you won't be perfect but you are willing to change and try for them. If you make it a priority they will too.
Jesus showed us the value of breaking bread together. Serious conversation took place at the Last Supper. People were called out. Ouch!!! But it didn't happen every time. Emotional intimacy on the deepest level also took place around a meal like setting. Look at when Jesus turned the loaf of bread and fish into enough to feed 5,000 people in Matthew 15. What a celebration. Time after time, Jesus modeled the importance of coming together for a meal. It creates community, invites open communication and says, "This is our time and no one else's."
If it's your schedule... it's time to get real honest with what's important. If you need help with this I would love to help. We have been in a season of medical school and now residency for quite some time and my husbands schedule is ALL OVER THE PLACE. He often works 300+ hours/month but meal time happens! If it's important, you'll make the time. If you need ideas, input, whatever, I can help! If I don't have the answer I will ask people and help you come up with a solid plan.
You may need a time out right about now because you are about to delete me, punch me in the face and say "How dare you!" I'm just asking you to evaluate. Privately ask your family members how they feel and really listen. Approach God before you approach them. Ask Him to soften your heart and to receive whatever they have to say.
*Carve out time to listen... plan on NOT speaking and just listening.
This is usually the time you hear the 'real' needs and burdens your family is carrying. This is a time to listen and hear what things you need to be talking to God about. This isn't an opportunity to not solve things rather a time to investigate, collect information and take your case before God.
*Carve out time to have difficult conversations. Dating your spouse and your kids creates the perfect opportunity for this. Your kids and even your spouse (but that is an entirely different subject) want to know you are totally invested in them. Sometimes as parents we trick ourselves into believing if we take them here and run them there or provide for them, their emotional needs are being met... Wrong!!!
Oh, and by the way they may even act totally bored and uninterested in dates with mom or dad but secretly in the depths of their heart they are screaming "Finally!!"
Keep it up. Your labor will produce a beautiful harvest.
*Carve out time for all members of the family to be equal contributors in the home. Chores are good! Again I say, CHORES ARE GOOD!!! Your child will learn life skills at home, with you, by watching you and by you intentionally teaching and directing them.
You are not a mean parent, in fact you are doing them and yourself a HUGE disservice by only being Mrs. or Mr. Fun Bags but not expecting full involvement from EVERY eating, drinking, sleeping, mess making, trash throwing, laundry wearing, phone and cable using, diaper wearing member of your household.
(Oh yes, even that little toddler can contribute)
Disclaimer: No children were ever harmed in the participation or involvement in being an active, self-sufficient, partner in this family.
*Carve out time to invest in your families relational portfolio.
When a person wants to save for retirement they don't just start the day they retire. They start by taking steps years, sometimes decades in advance.
If you don't approach your relationships with the future in mind, you will be devastated to find out you put all of your time and energy into the wrong investments.
*Be spontaneous. Surprise the family late at night with a ice cream run. Do the unexpected to capture your families attention. Often this is as simple as an attitude adjustment towards a certain activity, topic or event. Meet your kids where they are, not where you want them to be.
Carve out time now or little by little time will carve out chunks from your relationships.
Don't read this and think that I know how to do this perfectly, because I don't. My family still has melt downs, explosions, fights, fits and freak-outs, but when the basics are in order it creates a solid foundation to respond to the messes we face. It gives credit to our words when discipline needs to happen and trust me it happens... a lot! When we play, laugh, work, love and do life as a unit rather than individuals our house doesn't easily crumble. These are ideas that promote open communication and freedom to be an invested member of a God honoring team.
Be blessed friends! Be intentional and be ready to shake up some things so that when the big life shaking events happen your house doesn't crumble.
Remember, God is for you. He wants to give you a hope and a future! And it starts today.
Totally dumb saying but totally true... "Sharing is caring." If you can benefit from anything you read, chances are someone else will too.
Email me, comment and ask questions... We need one another.