What are children desiring these days besides a piece of technology? Time. Quality time spent with their parents. Like a doctor on call 24/7 we are reachable by our family, friends, and neighbors anytime, anywhere. Although there are many positives to having a revolving door of connection, there are also many negatives including connecting with our kids’ lives.
Even though living in such a multifaceted world seems to justify the lack of time spent with our children, the eyes of our little ones are taking notice, and as a result, they are sending up signals of distress.
Such cries for attention are shown through whining, complaining, nagging, talking back, bickering, and even anger, anxiety, and fits of depression. Why then would a child act out and get into trouble rather than behave and be good? Simply put, they are getting attention, even if mom and dad are going bonkers over their behaviors.
I once read an article on the life of Susan Wesley, the mother of the well-known pastor, John Wesley. One specific part of the article stood out to me and resonated with the mothering of my own four children.
Susan was the “mother of nineteen children, losing nine of them in infancy or childhood…Her husband left her for a two-year period while she bravely mothered her children with no support, spending one hour of each day of the week with each child! (TBLMinistries) One whole hour per child each day? I did a double take and reread the article since my first question was how is that even possible! My second thought was this. If Susan could spend quality time with her large family, then so could I, henceforth, the challenge was on.
If your home is like the average American homes, the evening is the worst time of the day, and if your home is similar to mine, your nighttime routine may be simply described in verbal snapshots: Hello!…What do you have for homework?…What’s for dinner?…Who is picking her up tonight after practice?…Thanks for the meal…Finish your homework…Shower up…Read a book…Night…Breath…Good morning…Repeat…Stressful.
The evening can become a never-ending cycle, and trying to squeeze in time with your precious children seems merely impossible without spinning in circles trying to decide which direction to launch into.
Although I have not mastered spending an hour a day with each child that Susan so graciously accomplished, I have made a conscious effort to spend one on one time with each of my children. However, this was not an overnight easy adjustment. I had to change my nightly routine in order to make every moment of time with my kids count.
Let me share with you a few of the changes that I challenge you to try yourself:
Map out your meals: I am no expert when it comes to cooking or meal planning in general. However, by writing out what the main meal for the evening is and even setting out the needed items ahead of time saves much of the mental energy it takes to answer the question- What’s for dinner? Even more so, the extra time can be used as quality time with your kiddos. An extra 15 minutes of mom/dad time is a gold mine to your child.
The dishes can wait: There is something about walking away from a clean kitchen and turning off the lights for the night that brings about a sense of closure to the evening. Yet, who says that the complete clean-up needs to happen right after dinner. Sure, the leftover food needs to be put away, and the kids can clear their own plates, and even the bigger kids can be assigned a simple role to help with clean-up (At our house we have three main roles: The sweeper, the clearer, and the cleaner that are rotated each night.), but if you have little ones at home who have an early bedtime, then the dishes can wait. Trust me, they do not do themselves, so they will still be there.
These first two adjustments became the biggest challenges to overcome since my personality tends to be more like Martha. Instead of resting at the feet of Jesus and slowing down to hear the life around me, I have a desire to get everything done at once in order to move on to the next step. Yet, being constantly busy is not always healthy for the family.
How does a limited schedule affect the quality of time you are able to share with your child?
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s article as I share what other changes took place for me to grow closer to my kiddos and to recognize the precious gift of quality time.