Being intentional is all the rage. Everyone is talking about it, and we’re all seeking it.
As parents, we want to be intentional with our kids, in our marriages, toward our friends, and in our own personal growth, but are we? Can we be?
Generally speaking, busyness rules our schedules, distractions interrupt our plans, and often times, our lives feel more chaotic than calm, more haphazard than intentional.
In a culture intent on speeding us up and in living lives that won’t slow down on their own, how do we parent with intentionality and purpose? Is there a magic formula that will calm our chaos and refocus our energy?
Of course there is no magic formula for parenting. Every child, every parent, every family, and everyone’s circumstances are different. However, training our kids in the ways they should go (Proverbs 22:6) will not happen by accident.
We need to make better choices as a family – to evaluate what really matters and pair down on what doesn’t. But there is a way to build intentionality into your daily lives without feeling more overwhelmed, and I’ve found three activities to be practical and easy to implement on a daily basis — pray, play, and practice.
These three daily practices are helping me be intentional in parenting my kids even in the hectic pace of life.
Training our kids in the ways they should go (Proverbs 22:6) will not happen by accident, and who better to know the “way in which they should go” than God? He created my kids and knows their personalities, strengths, struggles, and dreams better than anyone. He, in fact, is the only One who knows their futures! One of the most effective ways to parent intentionally is to be daily in prayer for and with my children!
Pray for —
One of the greatest influences a parent can have on their child is through prayer. Whether it’s praying for the salvation of our kids, lifting them up in prayer as they head back to school, or praying for their heart and growth, we need to be praying for our kids! When we pray for our kids, we are standing in the gap for them!
The battle for our children’s lives is waged on our knees. When we don’t pray, it’s like sitting on the sidelines watching our children in a war zone getting shot at from every angle. When we do pray, we’re in the battle alongside them, appropriating God’s power on their behalf. If we also declare the Word of God in our prayers, then we wield a powerful weapon against which no enemy can prevail. (Stormie Omartian)
I strongly encourage every parent to start praying regularly and specifically for your kids and watch how God begins to transform your family! Grab one of these resources or order my newest book which helps you pray Scripture every day for your kids.
Pray with —
I try to pray with my kids many times throughout the day. Mealtimes and bedtime give us a hard stop to pray, but all of the moments in between help us cultivate a lifestyle of prayer.
All throughout the day, I hear prayer slipping off our lips — thank you prayers and “Lord, help us!” prayers and prayers of confession and restoration and protection and safety and healing. We are cultivating a dependence on God and keeping our eyes open to the ways in which He is at work all around us! What an honor to lead my kids in their relationship with Jesus as I am growing, too!
Though independent play is strongly encouraged in our home, I often forget how crucial play time with me is.
As I mentioned in my “how to connect with your kids” post, I set a daily play goal to help me be intentional about playing with my kids. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I am so easily distracted by my to-do list. I find myself busy with household tasks, work projects, or teaching/disciplining my kids rather than simply enjoying time with them.
Relationally, play with parents is essential. Maybe it’s as short as 10 minutes or as long as an hour or more, but set aside time in your day for uninterrupted play with your kids.
If you have a hard time enjoying playtime with your kids, brainstorm some of your kids’ favorite activities that you might enjoy too. For example, I have a really hard time playing make believe, but I can sit for hours building tracks and playing trains. Of course, we don’t always get to pick what we want to play — we are the grown ups after all 😉 — but play is always easier when both parties enjoy the activity.
Click here for some of our favorite play ideas and a free printable to help you keep track of play ideas for each of your kids.
As human beings, we all have room for growth in our character, maturity, and skills, and the learning curve is huge for kids. We can usually recognize the areas in which our kids need to grow, but knowing how to address all of the opportunities and focusing on each can feel overwhelming.
We have found that focusing on a specific character trait and a developmental goal per month (or two week period of time), helps us as parents be consistent, isn’t overwhelming for the child, and gives an opportunity to celebrate growth.
To be intentional about your child’s growth, try picking one area in which your child needs to mature or develop and focus on that specific goal throughout the month. Brainstorm ways to help your child grow, and how to teach, train, and encourage them toward that growth.
Keeping the goal front and center is hugely helpful for me, so I created a free printable to help us as parents take character and developmental training one step at a time. Click here to grab it!
There you go. Pray, play, & practice — three things we can all do every day to be intentional about how we train, nurture, and parent our kids! Which of these can you begin implementing in your home today?
In this together,
Erika // erikadawson.com