My husband and I got pregnant with our first baby almost immediately after getting married. It was a quick move from single, to married, to having a family in ministry. Within just 3 years after marriage, there were five of us. From the start we have understood that taking care of our marriage and our family is vital. It can be easy to be “off doing ministry” for others while forgetting to be a good steward of those at home.
We have found that if we do not make the time to take care of those at home ministry is lost. All that our talk about “family focus” becomes null if our own family doesn’t know their importance. I have friends who have one parent who “stays at home,” are able to create their own schedules or home school. My observation has been that they can make space during the day for kids especially, that we just don’t have. Financial needs have dictated two paychecks in our home. I wish I were called to homeschool. It lasted for my kiddos and me less than 24 hours. It can be especially difficult when one of you are in “paid ministry” while the other is working a “secular job.”
So what ARE some practical things you can do to create family time?
Jesus and then Marriage:
Find time with Jesus just because you love Him. Focus on your spouse BEFORE you focus on your kids. Make sure your marriage is healthy with Christ at the center. If it is not, then having a conversation about family is wasted.
Learn our kids:
You may have heard of the “Love Languages” or personality tests. These are great tools to help understand how your children best feel loved and cared for. Different kids have different needs, ways of communicating and methods they feel cared for.
“Sacred” Family Time Once A Week:
This is time set aside where your only focus is on being together as a family, more than a meal, several hours where you have fun and just get to know each other as a family.
Sitting Down Time:
It might be impossible to have a full meal together with the schedules in your family. We tried breakfast for a while and none of us were awake. The point is to take at least 30 min a day when you are openly communicating with each other as a family.
Start young and keep it up.
I used to think that there “would come a day when my kids would be too old for…” Now that my children are mostly teens we see they need and want us more than ever. Start habits when they are babies that open lines of communication and keep it up. We “tuck our kids” in to bed. It’s different than the toddler years, but this is now often the time of day our kids know they will get our full attention.
Vacations and Holidays:
It’s important to say it again: Taking an extended time with my family once a year is essential. It’s when we remember we like each other It doesn’t have to be something huge or expensive. Just take time. During holidays when ministry seems to want all of our time, create spaces that let your kids know they are more important than your “responsibilities.”
Is there a time of day when everyone is “docked” and you are all disconnected from technology? This one takes more discipline for some of us than others. All of us need to stop multitasking and connect with those we live with for a few moments each day.
The point simply is to FIND time as a family. Those we live with need to know they are more important than any of the other people we “minister” to.