At the end of a recent post ("Time in a Bottle"---read here http://charactertrainingfromtheheart.blogspot.com/2013/01/time-in-bottle.html ), I promised a Timely Tip article, so here it is!
After thirty years of parenting (and twenty-nine years of homeschooling, beginning with homeschooling my younger sister), we have learned a ton abut time management. Some of it we use every day. Other tips were used during certain seasons. And still others we use just occasionally. Here are "Five Timely Tips" (in no certain order) that I hope will help parents find more time to train their children, love their children, play with their children, and just be WITH their children.
1. Attach things to things already in your schedule
Twenty years ago we were blessed to learn from an amazing family teacher, Gregg Harris. One of the things that he taught us that we began implementing immediately--and continue to use to this day--is the concept of attaching important things to things already in your schedule.
Mr. Harris said that our children (and we!) already eat three times a day; they already get up in the morning and go to bed at night. If we want to make something stick in our routines with them, attach that important activity (reading to them, devotions, talking together, etc.) to one of these "already-in-the-schedule-no-matter-what" activities).
We came home and started attaching things to our meals, rising times, and bed times--and before we knew it, we were attaching attachments to our attachments! It really worked!
We started out simple--just keeping a family devotional by the dinner table for one of us to read while the rest cleaned up the meal, moving the kids' breakfast to the little table where I planted myself on the end and read as they ate, etc. But before we knew it, a little bit at a time, we were doing many wonderful things that we thought only really disciplined and perfect families did.
2. Watch out for time robbers
In "Time in a Bottle," I described how we would respond if someone were to break into our car and steal our wallet--and $100. We would be outraged! It would serve us well in our families to be a little bit more outraged by time robbers in our lives--those things that steal our time (or that we allow to steal our time).
The statistics on television viewing, "screen time," and more are alarming when you consider the number of hours we spend on entertainment vs with our children. I like movies and entertainment as much as the next person, but, thankfully, we were taught by intentional parents many years ago that we cannot let entertainment overtake our lives--and pull us away from the important things in life--God, spouse, children, and others.
Rather than tell you to get rid of this or that, let me leave you with this thought about time robbers: If the latest stats about average weekly "screen time" of thirty-three hours per week per person are really true, can you imagine what would happen if any of us who are logging that kind of "recreational" screen time simply took half of that time to be with those we love, to truly raise our children, and to serve others and the Lord?
3. Understand Seasons of Life
The aforementioned Gregg Harris also taught us about an important concept concerning time and priorities: the seasons of life. At the time that we heard his teaching about doing things that are in "your season," we were a young couple with four small children trying to do what "elders" should do--and wondering why there wasn't time for everything.
Once we understood that our season was "babies and business" at that time, we were free--free to raise our children (and work really hard at that!) and free for Ray to work to earn a living, but not necessarily do everything else that men without four small kids were doing.
Guess what? We started to get good at what we were doing! We started being successful in our parenting--simply because we had the time to do what we really needed to do.
If you have trouble saying no to things that are obviously out of your season, I recommend that you get this teaching (ebay?) and take it to heart. Even if you don't get the entire teaching, consider these few paragraphs here. Are you continually trying to "fit it all in"? Maybe some things you are trying to do aren't really for you right now.
4. Skip the good to do the best
This sort of goes along with Tip #3, but this, too, was a "great awakening" for our family. Everything looks "good"--all of the dozens of activities for our kids, many programs and hobbies for parents, even Bible studies and Christian groups. And now with the internet, we are bombarded with good things to do all the time--ways to make our home more beautiful, our food more healthful, our children more cleverly-dressed, and more.
And there is nothing wrong with any of those. But I would appeal to you that some of those things are good. But just good. That's all. Good, but not best.
Each family has to determine what is their family's "best." Nobody but you and your spouse can do that. However, when we went through our family's schedule and rated things as simply "good" and "yes, best," it was another eye opener for us that allowed us to streamline our lives and make the most of our time.
Hint: The "bests" for all of us will include at least some time with our kids--and probably less running! Smile....
5. Show your kids their value to you by giving them the greatest gift of all--time
Okay, so you are tired of hearing me say this. But if you had unearthed the most amazing tool for raising children ever to be discovered, would you be able to keep quiet about it? Smile.... (Okay, maybe the Reishes didn't "unearth" it, but we are still shouting it from the mountaintops anyway!)
In our parenting seminar ("Character Training From the Heart"), my husband loves to tell the story of Absalom in II Samuel. In summary, the people who came to the king for help kept stopping outside the gates and getting advice from Absolam. The verse says, "And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel" (Ii Sam. 15:6).
As Ray likes to tell it: What did Absalom do that allowed him to "steal the hearts" of the Israelites? He was available.
There is nothing that shows people their value to us like the giving of ourselves, the giving up of our time for them. This is true in the marriage relationship--and it is also true for our children. Our children will "give their hearts" (as in the Absalom story) to those who are available to them.
I am persuaded that one of the strongest factors in the relationships that we have with our teens and young adults (seven kids, ages fourteen through thirty) is our availability. They know that we will give up anything of our own to spend time with them. We show them their value to us by giving them the greatest gift--the gift of time.
I pray that this article helps families. If you are being helped by "Character Training From the Heart," tell your friends about us. (We are still Positive Parenting on FaceBook.) Or host a parenting seminar in your church or community. And whatever you do, do the next right thing. Smile....