My husband James does an object lesson for kids we parents can learn from. He arranges ingredients on a table: sugar, sand, marbles, ping pong balls, a few big rocks, and an empty peanut butter jar. He asks the kids, “Do you think I can fit all these items into the peanut butter jar?”
He begins with the sugar, sand, and marbles. By the time the ping pong balls are added, there is no room in the jar for the rocks.
Then he pours everything out and this time, he begins with the big rocks first, followed by the ping pong balls. Then he pours in the marbles, sugar, and sand. Now it all fits! He explains to the kids when you put the big rocks in first – things like praying, reading the Bible, doing chores, finishing homework – then you have time for the extras in life like riding bikes or watching movies.
As parents, we too need to put the big rocks in first. We can live putting out fires and responding to texts which seem urgent at the time, while ignoring what’s truly important. As legendary coach John Wooden said,
“Don’t mistake activity with achievement.”
Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean your priorities are being lived out. We can place our children ahead of our spouses. We can let our health slip. We can slowly become complacent towards Bible reading.
What does every flight attendant instruct us to do? Put on your oxygen mask before assisting others. Don’t ignore that dangling oxygen mask in front of you. Take care of yourself so you can care for your family. Making healthy choices isn’t selfish.
Notice the motivation. You don’t take care of yourself to escape. You do it to serve others.
Putting the big rocks in first involves determining what’s really important as a parent.
Now, don’t try to become more patient, scream less, kiss more, cook more, finish projects you start, and begin a new Bible study all in one day. Start with one improvement at a time and then build on your success.
Make time for your family priorities. Say no to other good events to make sure your family’s core values are lived out.
What’s one family priority that took a backseat in 2015?
This is the year to put it in the front seat where you can’t ignore it any longer. Whether it’s a monthly date night or paying down debt, you must make time for it. Put in the big rocks first.