Families today face growing pressures and competing interests demanding their time. Parents share that they feel stressed, tired, rushed, and short on quality time with their children, friends, spouses, or hobbies. There are seasons in which a family might realize that there’ s a discrepancy between what they say is important and what they’re living out. Perhaps they realize their schedule no longer reflects their priorities as a family.
Our family has a strict policy that each child may do one activity each season. Last year at this time, I broke that policy . . . and regretted it until spring brought us to a merciful end of the season. My son wanted to play soccer, but I really thought baseball was going to be a better experience. So we agreed to let him do both.
“It will keep him active,” we said.
“The schedules don’t conflict,” we justified.
We suffered the consequence. There were no family dinners. We found ourselves doing homework late at night. And going separate directions meant no margin for unexpected time with friends, silly family conversations, or being available to help a friend in need. Our schedules no longer reflected our priorities as a family.
Thankfully, when things get our priorities off track, there are natural moments when a family can set a new pattern of priorities. The new year is a chance to help families re-examine and re-adjust their priorities.
Prioritize family time: The everyday demands and requests will steal away minutes each day from the things that matter most. We know that intentional time as a family is important to health and connection.
Make room for discipleship opportunities: Second Timothy 4:2 says to: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage with great patience and careful instruction (NIV).
Just say “no”: That pre-decision to say no to a few things removes the pain of agonizing over each invite and opportunity.
Rest and retreat: Jesus modeled this for us and He constantly withdrew from crowds and activities. He taught the same to His followers. In one instance, after returning from a busy time of ministry, He said to them: “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile” (Mark 6:31 NLT).
Set New Habits
Before the start of each new year, my husband and I take a day away to review the prior year and make a plan for the season ahead. We celebrate goals achieved and dreams realized and take note of goals not yet met. We then take a look ahead and make a plan and a strategy for how we want to spend the year. We talk about our kids’ schooling and interests and how we’re spending time as a family. We figure out what to let go of and talk about where to spend time and tithes.
A new season is a great opportunity to set some new habits that reflect and reinforce family priorities. Here are some ideas and tools to help set new habits.
Study Scripture: Do a family devotional, scripture memorization challenges with your kids, choose a theme, verse, or even just a word for the year that inspires your family, commit to pray together daily for something specific,
Be sure to attend church, invest in your church community: Trends are changing and families are facing more things that demand their time on Sunday mornings. Even committed church attenders are attending church less often.
Consider counseling: More and more families today are navigating real crisis. Coming out of the holidays, many families are reeling from family hurt, financial burden, or other weighty challenges.
Take some time to re-evaluate your rhythms and put some new habits in place for your family this new year.