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Three Ways To Steal Back Family Time

The Rolling Stones may be under the impression that time is on our side, but let’s be honest, do ANY of us believe that? 

Perhaps we’ve come a long way since that song was written. In the new millennium, we lament the ethereal ghosts of our unfinished to-do-lists by speaking in terms of “having no margin” and struggling with our “lack of bandwidth.” We seem to always be looking for ways to steal back time. 

Most of us grew up loving Back to the Future and Groundhog Day, movies which focused on manipulating the past, present and future. In this year’s blockbuster movie Avengers: Endgame, the only way to save the planet ~spoiler alert for the 1% who haven’t seen it ~ was to travel through time to undo evil.

Sadly, none of us have a DeLorean time machine or infinity stones, but there are a few things we can do to give us a better sense of control over our daily lives and the precious minutes that slip through our fingers.

Do you feel like time is slipping away? Do you crave more meaningful moment with your family and struggle to find room in your schedule to make them a reality? Make a plan for how to make the minutes count so you don’t miss what is most important!

1. Consolidate the most time-consuming tasks. 

When we wanted more family time in the evenings, one of our tried-and-true methods involved preparing meals the night before or cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same time. I realize how overwhelming that may sound, but meal multi-tasking actually saved time and exhaustion in the long run. 

While I was frying the breakfast bacon and eggs (or handing out breakfast bars, depending on the day), we made ham sandwiches for lunch and loaded up the crockpot for that night’s dinner. And no, I didn’t have superpowers or super energy. I did employ little hands to help, and it made more sense to cook, clean and put away everything once a day versus three separate times.  This “consolidation method” meant the 5:00 p.m. panic of “what are we going to eat, and how long is that going to take?” didn’t plague us every day. We could actually focus on homework and sitting down together. 

2. Create non-negotiables. 

For our family, having meals together continues to be non-negotiable. When our children were younger, establishing consistent bedtime reading and prayers fostered moments of intimacy. We’d recite the same stories, reinforce daily lessons with scripture and listen to their hearts through their requests to God. Each night, we spoke blessings over them – all in an attempt to take back seconds the world and our busy lives might otherwise have robbed from us. If we make the ritual of listening and blessing a priority, we have the power to slow down the runaway train called childhood.

3. Boycott comparison. 

Nearly every nano-second, we are bombarded with snapshots and sound bites of other people’s lives on social media. Why do we allow this seemingly innocent distraction to consume hours of our lives, especially when it often leaves us feeling less than? And are we modeling this time-waster to our children? What if we put our devices down for an hour a day and go retro. Take a walk as a family around the block. Go really old school and play cards or cook a meal together. And the true test – resist the urge to post those private moments. Let’s allow something special to just take root. It’s amazing how many minutes get added to our day when we stay fully present. 

In Ecclesiastes, it says that each day is God’s gift. We may not be able to literally turn back time, but with a little intentionality, we can be good stewards of the time we are granted.   

Stealing back time with you,

Denise C. McDowell

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