It’s amazing how busy a stay-at-home mom can be, and how much time a Homeschooler can be away from home! I’ve talked with a number of young parents recently, and a theme has recurred over and over.
“We’re really busy! But, it’s going to get better soon.”
“I’m trying to figure out what I can cut out.”
“We’re involved in so many good things, but I’m not sure we can keep it up–I’m so overwhelmed!”
God’s way is for fathers to teach their children and their children’s children His ways. (Psalm 78:1-4) That takes strong families spending time together.
Here are just a few guidelines that we’ve used in our family to determine which, and how many, activities our family should be involved in:
1. Pray about what the Lord wants your family to be doing. Ask God, “What do You want us to do?” Have the courage to say, “No”! Don’t believe the lie that, “If I don’t do it, no one else will.” Maybe it’s ok for nobody to do it! And maybe God wants to cause someone else to do it, but you’re in the way. Remember: God has a plan for your family, and a unique message He desires to communicate through you. Don’t try to copy others.
2. Never say yes to a job or commitment without praying about it first, and preferably, sleeping on it overnight. Wives, always ask your husbands first. Put a note by the phone & computer that reminds you to respond, “I need to talk to my husband first. I’ll get back to you.” With his permission, let your husband be “the bad guy” and just say, “My husband doesn’t want me to do that (right now).” His shoulders are broader than yours, and most people will not question you further if your husband has made the decision for you or your family.
3. Determine ahead how many nights your family can have something going on per week, and stick to it. In our family, that number was no more than two nights a week with activities on the calendar. Stay home and get to know one another!
4. Concentrate on family, not individual, ministry and family activities. Each family member going in a different direction or trying to get different children to their separate events splits up the family, and quickly becomes overwhelming. When your children are little, make the decision not to get involved in organized sports or join activities that will be lifelong commitments, unless you feel very strongly led of the Lord to do so! My reason for saying that is that once you start, you establish a pattern, and then practice improves their skill, and they like it because they’re good at it, and it then is very hard to quit, even if you feel you should or want to. It’s more difficult to quit later with every year of involvement, and the longer you’re involved, the more time and energy commitment will be required of you.
5. Let Dad decide the direction of the family, and let your husband lead.
6. Cause the hearts of the children to turn to the fathers. Plan for Dad to have time with his children. And do quiet activities. Time spent together where conversation can happen will result in Dad and Mom being able to disciple and train the children, and to talk about important things. When you’re at home, you’ll see the character issues in your children which need your attention, and be able to more consistently deal with them.
7. When you are at home, do activities that draw you all together and Power Off. Close the laptops, take the earbuds out, get off Facebook, turn off the TV, etc. When we were raising our family, one day our TV went *ploof!* and didn’t work, and we chose not to fix or replace it. We didn’t allow our children to have a phone, computer, TV, or other electronics in their bedrooms. (Parents: Intentionally delay your child having electronics, cell phones, etc., in their lives. It will come, but you choose when. You have been given authority by God and it is your job. Please don’t let your 2 year old play games on your phone to keep her quiet.) We spent time together, and limited the screen time for our children. Slow down the pace, and create more peace and togetherness in your home.
Some ideas of Activities families can do together:
- Read aloud together as a family. (e.g. As our children grew into the upper elementary and teen years especially, we read many true life missionary stories, which greatly impacted their faith. All through our homeschooling years, in the evenings we would read “living books” and historical fiction that related to what we were studying in school, and it was a way to involve Dad.)
- Play a game together: include the little ones when possible.
- Do creative activities together, explore nature, visit historic sites.
- Do work projects around the house.
- Make gifts for others.
- Teach your children how to work with their hands; how to cook, organize, sew.
- Learn a skill together: learn handwork such as cross stitch, needlepoint or hardanger, whittling and woodworking, toymaking for small children, beadwork, crocheting and knitting, an instrument, sewing, auto repair, art (drawing, experimenting using pastels, chalks, watercolor, or oils), puppetry. *Many of these are “lost arts” and that is so sad! You will have more mature, more creative children who will be in high demand as they grow older, for they will have confidence and patience and know how to work hard, plus have valuable skills.
9. If your time is spent with others, make absolutely certain your companions are wise. (“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.” Proverbs 13:20) If you’re with non-believers, do activities that will allow you to share the Lord with them and for you to be able to still glorify the Lord–don’t even have the appearance of evil! (“Abstain from all appearance of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:22 “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” Colossians 3:17)
If spending time with less mature believers, do things that will help all of you grow and mature spiritually. Talk about how you came to know the Lord, share your testimony, talk about things that matter. Watch a family-friendly video or one that will challenge your spiritual life.
10. Be intentional: Think of your long-term goals for your family. Will this activity help you achieve them? If others were to follow your example, would it be good and glorify the Lord? Do what is important, not just the urgent. (Read the little booklet, “The Tyranny of the Urgent,” by Charles Hummel.) Choose those things which are best, not just good.
The old saying, “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy,” still holds true.
Most importantly, pray over your activities and involvements, and commit your way to the Lord, and He will direct your path. He wants to show you the way that you should go.
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