Have you ever ridden an ocean wave? You get on the top of the wave and it propels you forward with the massive energy of the ocean. You make efforts at strokes that provide minimal impact or direction.
Sometimes the craziness of life feels like you are riding the wave. Work, school, sports, dance, music, church and other demands dictate the hours of our day. And, what if there is illness or aging parents or other unexpected events? The busyness of life propels you forward, and you feel as if you have limited power to change the course of a day.
You do have a choice in what goes into the “wave” that you ride. Yes, there are daily demands of work and school, but you can and should be intentional in how to invest your time for your marriage and your children.
Each year my husband and I took time to evaluate the best way to invest in our marriage and our family. Here are 5 ways that we worked to limit the power of the wave and optimize influence and direction in our lives and the lives of our children.
- Pray together.
Before each school year my husband and I would pull aside as a couple and pray for wisdom and guidance for the year ahead. (James 1:5) We’d ask questions like: What character qualities need to be strengthened? What is our family focus this year? How do we expand our vision? How do we train our children spiritually? The answers to these questions instructed us as to how to invest our time.
- Marriage before kids.
Our society has become kid-centric. We knew that one of the greatest gifts we could give our children was to have a vibrant, fun and healthy relationship. Date nights, daily phone conversations, and one-on-one time each evening were a few of the regular habits that we put into place to keep our marriage strong.
- Limit activities.
At the start of each season, we would carefully choose and limit the number of activities to two per child. There are so many great opportunities for our children that we must be intentional about where they invest their time for their good and the good of the family.
- Create family adventures
Each year we would pick one new family activity to engage in on a regular basis. It might be family game night, season tickets to the symphony or a local sports team, golf lessons, volunteering at the homeless shelter, or cooking dinner together once a week. The activity changed, but the tradition of a new family adventure each year established a fun tradition, and traditions anchor families together.
- Enjoy regular family dinners.
As our children get older this can become tricky, but there is huge value in a regular gathering around the dinner table. We’d ask questions like: What was the highlight of your day? How did you encourage someone today? What did you learn today? If dinner is impossible for your schedule, establish a gathering around Sunday lunch or morning breakfast. Meal time connection is one of the rich gifts of family.
Andy Stanley says, “My time is limited so I have to limit what I do with my time.” It may be high tide for your family, but you still have choices to optimize impact and leave a lasting legacy for your family.
Catherine loves adventure and variety in life. Her “jobs” have included: wife, sales, entrepreneur, friend, and mom. She has also engaged in sideline “businesses” of: founding First Friday Friends, storytelling, home schooling, exercising, orchestrating international learning excursions, gardening in the spring and pulling up dead plants by July, and playing hostess to large and small groups. Her latest adventure has been to write the materials for First Friday Friends. The first books (Leader and Girl Guide) are entitled, Heart to Heart: Growing Lifelong Relationships Between Mothers and Daughters. She believes following God is one of the greatest adventures in life . . . there is always variety and it is never, ever boring.