We were both in “ministry” when we got married, and well, God decided to give us a family right away. Within 3 years of saying “I DO,” we were caring for 3 kiddos. So here we were, staying in ministry outside the home, while at the same time attempting to be a good steward of what God had blessed us with.
From the start our intentions were always to have family practices that were “ours” but, it was easy to allow those to be pushed aside when “life” took over.
Instead of “investing” in our kids, we were dragging them with us.
As a couple we had to sit down and come up with a plan so that our children would always know that no other youth were ever more important. There are everyday practices and traditions that needed to be put into place (and quickly) for our kids.
What did we do?
Learned our kids:
Purposeful time set aside for each child is important. How this looks is also unique for each child. We need to begin by learning who our kids are, what they enjoy and how they like to be with us. One of mine wants to sit and talk about life, while another wants to be “doing” something. Take the time to meet them for who they are.
“Sacred” Family Time Once A Week:
This is an evening or a day when phones are off, and put away. One weekend evening is pizza and a movie night. Once a month, on Saturday, we do a “paid” outing. This is the zoo or a museum or something fun (that costs money). Every year we go apple picking. The point is that the “rest of the world” is shut out and your purpose is just to spend time together.
At least ONE meal a day together.
Honestly, this can be the hardest one to stick to. However, the importance of a time where you are all sitting together as a family once a day is vital. It might need to be breakfast, it could be an afternoon snack. We have a “no electronics” and no answering the ringing phone rule during this time.
Open lines of communication:
Deuteronomy 6 tells us to be talking about the Lord and his Word to our kids all the time. Have deep conversations every moment they present themselves: in the car, as they get ready for school, making dinner… you get the point. Start this young, and when adolescence hits, talking as a family is already a habit.
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 either in or on the cusp of the teen years, we see they need and want us more than ever. They still want John and I individually to “put them to bed.” It no longer entails rocking them to sleep, or a night time story. However, they treasure that few moments each day they get us to themselves. We pray and chat. Often this is the time we get the most information from them about their true feelings in life.
Vacations and Holidays:
This has been said by everyone, but I just have to. 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, we find something that is “ours.” We have a red-velvet cake on Christmas day for Jesus.
The list could go on and on. Pick some things that work for your family and stick to them. They may need to change from time to time. You will need to readjust as your kids hit different ages and seasons in life. Just remember to not let your ministry outside of the home overtake the one that inside it.
What are your family traditions? Share them in the comments below!