John and Sara have been married almost 11 years now. With three kids, two jobs, and a nice size home there is enough work to keep them both busy and running. Now that warmer weather is approaching that only means one thing. Things are about to go from busy to swamped. Jenny the oldest of the 3 kids just turned nine and is in her third year of softball. Jenny loves every minute of it. Josh, the middle child is seven and pretty sure he will make it to the big leagues one day, while Jeremiah the five year old has joined his first T-Ball team, The Bronx Bombers. John’s business is doing well and looks like this could be the best year he’s had in a while. Sara enjoys her job as a teachers aid at the elementary school and helps teach 3rd grade Sunday School at church. Things look great from the outside looking in but behind closed doors the scene looks very different. You see, John and Sara put out a lot of energy to make everything work. John works about 50 hours per week so make sure everything is going as it should at the office. After all, its the main source of income for the family, then there is running kids to practices and ballgames. While Sara is running to the grocery store and makeing sure things are taken care of at home John is busy making sure he doesn’t forget Josh at the ball field. By the time everyone makes it home in the evenings, its time for a quick bite to eat, usually in front of the TV, then homework, baths and bedtime. John and Sara are exhausted. As their heads hit the pillow they wonder why they struggle in their marriage and wonder how much more they can take.
The above story is purely fictional but is a replica of 75% of the families in our culture today. In trying to provide the best life for our children and our families we often get things so out of whack that its hard to get things to a healthy medium. Families, are often passing each other on the roadway going from one place to another. What time they do have left for one another is time spent just trying to catch their breath. So how do we protect our families from the cycle that usually ends up in broken marriages and dysfunctional families.
1. Learn the Importance of Family Time
- Kids spend about thirty-eight minutes in meaningful conversations with their parents a week and an average of three and a half hours a day watching TV.- (Marriage and Family Counseling) Take time to set aside designated family times each week. Learn how important these times are. Determine that they will take precedence over other appointments, work, dates, and obligations. And be prepared to stick to your guns. It never fails, once you have a scheduled time someone will call and need you to do something else. Guard this time!! Your kids value time with you even if they don’t act like it. I have never been to a funeral and hear a person say “I wish Dad had put more time in the office” Nor have I ever head a father say “I wish I had spent less time with my kids while they were young”
2. Plan your Family Time.
- Family time can be 20 minutes a day with Mom and Dad. Often times you can schedule to do NOTHING. Sometimes just turning off the tv, internet, phones etc and just hanging on the front porch can be enough to connect to one another. On other occasions, plan to do something special. This can be a picnic or even going to your favorite ice cream place and eating in as opposed to getting it to go. But take time to put it on the calender and make it a priority. You will be able to see the benefits that will follow when you make a plan to build or maintain strong relationships with our family. The old proverb is true that families who pray together, and play together, stay together. Build and protect your time together as a family. Commit to living this truth even though it sounds like an old cliche.
3. Protect Family Time.
- Make a calender each month and mark on it the family fun and devotion times, so the family can plan for and look forward to them. Involve everyone in the planning process, so the family has a sense of ownership of the activities.
- Choose at least a couple times for family activities each week. One a week is not enough. Also several planned times help create a buffer if a real emergency interferes with a scheduled time.
- Don’t allow work, friends or eve church events interfere with the family plans.
Prayer Starter: We live hectic, chaotic lives. And sometimes in all the fuss, we don’t spend enough quality time with the most important of our relationships- family. God, help this family as they strive to set aside ample time to eat meals together, support each other, enjoy fun activities, and spend time in family devotions or Bible study…