Making family time, what does it mean to you? Why is it so difficult to get everyone under the same roof, to sit around the table and simply share a meal together anymore? Do we make time to breathe or to sleep? We just do it right? It’s natural, the way things are. So why do we have to actually make or schedule time for family? Shouldn’t it be just as important? I know we’re as guilty of this as anybody at times. Through the years we’ve had our share of grab dinner and go, let’s schedule a night next week and let me just finish this or that kind of moments. It happens, especially in the digital, go, go, go, always connected but not connecting society we all live in. Life is just busy, constantly moving and asking more and more of us. We sleep less, but we sleep, right? However many times family just gets pushed to the back burner and left there. No flame, no simmering, just left and forgotten. But what does that say to those we love? How do our children feel when we say I HAVE to make time for you? Why can’t it simply be I have time for you?
Honestly, it’s not intentional, life is just moving at such a fast pace we can’t keep up. We get in too deep, our priorities get scrambled. Suddenly we’re scheduling a family night marking it on the calendar and setting reminders so we don’t forget. What does that tell us? It says we’re way too busy, too caught in in trying to live. Truthfully, we’re really not living at all are we? We’ve all been there; none of us can claim perfection unless we're claiming to be Jesus that is. I think the question comes down to how we break free from the chains of pre-occupation? How we choose to spend our time, and with whom we spend it with. The truth is, “Time is more valuable than money. You can always get more money but you cannot always get more time.” I’d say Jim Rohn is a very wise man indeed. Yes, the ways we spend time together is very different and should be. Each family has their own way of communicating, sharing and simply connecting with each other. For us, it’s a few big things, like dinner around the family table every night, and trips to Disney World together. And then there are the many, many smaller moments such as a game night, watching TV as a family, fishing after dinner, hockey games, and anything else we can spontaneously come up with in the moment. Is it always easy with our schedules? Oh no, and double no. We all have our own schedules, things like work, school, fitness, sports and friends. But we also have each other, our family. While everything else in life needs to be penciled in on the calendar, family is not one of them. This is the thing, and Dave Willis says it perfectly, “If you are too busy to enjoy your family, then you need to re-evaluate your priorities.”
For our little family, life is spent together in the moment’s in-between the chaos. We all have busy lives, there’s no doubt and we’re all exhausted by the end of the day. But every one of us knows when we walk through the door the dinner table is waiting, each and every night. We laugh, tell the stories about our day, sometimes we even fuss a bit but when we clear the table and join each other on the couches; we’re no longer connected to the chaos outside the door. Sure we plan our Disney trips together, everyone adding a personal piece to our adventures .We certainly love our Disney time, laughing, riding the rides, meeting characters, and experiencing silly, goofy moments while making memories together. But we also love our day trips to the beach and weekend road trips anywhere the map leads us just as much. Why, well because we’re together, making family time and leaving life’s demands behind us in those moments. We plan together, again around the table. We save together and we play together. That’s the one thing Johnny and I learned early on as parents, you can’t just observe, you have to get down on the floor and play with your kids. We never just sat on the sidelines watching our boys live life, we intentionally lived life beside them, You’ve got to put the hats on, hold the pet snakes, ride the roller coasters, coach the sports teams, cheer and comfort and participate in everything with your children. Till this day, at almost 18 and 20 years old, we still do. Yep even the 11:45 pm midweek hockey games or the late night smash melee tournaments. Yes, family is everything, but it’s also a way of life, not just a cute hash tag.
My parents tell a story going back to when I was about 3, maybe 4 about learning this very lesson. We were living in Germany. My dad was stationed there at the time. They had a very large home ministry in our quarters. I’m talking sometimes over 50 G.I.’s every night. No matter what night it was in our home there was a Bible study, food with many of those same GI's staying over. It was nothing to have 15 of them on the floors, couches or anywhere they could find to sleep once the night was over. I loved having everyone there; in fact we are still in contact with many till this day. To say my parents were busy is an understatement. The reality is for a period of time I was lost in the hustle and bustle. Finally one night, I had had enough. I guess I was tired of trying to get my parents attention and I was feeling somewhat resentful. I had tried talking to them several times this particular evening but with all the goings on in the house, they were too absorbed and had lost track of me. I was bascially becoming background noise. So I grabbed their faces, pulled their heads toward mine and said, “Mommy, daddy I’m talking to you!” My parents being who they are saw their wrongdoing, even though it wasn’t on purpose and corrected it. From that point on family time was not optional, it was a priority. I love what Colossians 3:21 says about this.“Fathers, don't make your children resentful, or they will become discouraged.” My parents didn’t want me to resent them for ministry and they surely didn’t want me to become discouraged with them either. They found balance, both teaching me to give of myself, offering my time to others and to be unselfish in my wants. On the flip side they gave me their time; I never had to ask for it again. See life is a balancing act. It's not just being in the room but being actually present in the moment with your kids no matter how old they are. Till this day my parents say they learned one of the biggest lessons of their lives through their little girl that day. They understood in that moment to gain the world and forfeit their child was to lose everything. I had reached a point where I felt neglected, overlooked and not a priority. Why, well because family time had been forgotten and being a child I felt overlooked too. One of the worst things you can lose is your child because you’re too busy, occupied, engaged or distracted.
Life Lesson #85 ~ making time for family is a priority. Making time to listen, to put yourself aside and just being there with your kids, for your kids is what makes family time so memorable. It doesn’t have to big moments, and it doesn’t always have to be small things either. As vital as breathing and as valuable as sleeping is to our minds and bodies family time should simply be as essential to our hearts. What is family time? Well simply put it’s time spent loving your family, your children and leaving no room for regrets. The reality is, no matter how old your kids get, “To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.” It’s taking the time to have a conversation, not just sending a text message. Or sitting down as a family around the table to eat, even it comes out of a bag or a microwave. See it’s not about the quality of the food, but the quality of the moments you share. It’s really not all that complicated, it’s just about slowing down, taking the time to focus on what matters most, your family. As a mom, even a working mom, I look forward to sitting around the table with my family. I have learned a great deal about who my children are at our family table. Family time should just be a natural part of our lives shouldn’t it? A wise person once said, “A mother discovers with great delight that one does not love one’s children just because they are one’s children but because of the friendship formed while raising them.” I’d say Gabriel Garcia Marquez had it down pretty good. And we never truly stop raising them do we? So breathe, get some sleep, cherish the time you have and simply enjoy your family.