WHY YOU SHOULD PUSH YOUR KIDS OUT THE FRONT DOOR
Posted by Stephen Jones
When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do in the whole world was going with my grandpa to peddle watermelons.
Not selling. Peddling. Selling is often fast paced and intense. We peddled. It was slow and laid back.
We drove around town in his little white pickup and did more talking than anything else. I loved it!
Paw would also give me a few watermelons to sell myself, which I did in my front yard. I would sit outside and try to sell them for 25 cents each.
I literally just sat in the front yard. I don’t think I ever even made a sign.
I always sold them though…every single one. There was one man, we all called him OJ, who stopped and bought them all for about four or five quarters. I could always count on OJ!
It wasn’t about the money though.
No, it was about the experience. It was about hanging out with my grandpa. It was about getting out of the house. It was about doing something.
When I became a dad, I couldn’t wait to do the same types of things with my kids. Ride around town in the car singing and talking…you know, spend some good ole’ quality time.
To my surprise though, that sentiment is occasionally met with some resistance.
“Does anyone want to ride up to town with me?”
First of all, my kids have no concept of “going to town.” You can throw a rock to the grocery store from our house and hit a golf ball to the mall.
Plus, there are things to do at our house that I never had growing up.
My kids have 867 TV channels. I had four.
My kids have a DVD player, 50 DVDs, and 7 billion shows on demand. We had a VCR and no tapes.
My kids have access to two laptops, a Kindle, and countless toys. We didn’t have a computer until I was a little older and when we did, the internet was…dial up!
Don’t get me wrong, I had my fair share of screen time as a kid. I loved video games. And as I got older, that’s all I really wanted to do. I mean, I ruled Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt! And UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, B, A, SELECT, START still means something to me.
Looking back though, none of my favorite memories involve video games.
These are some of my favorite memories:
The day my dad and I caught over 100 fish
Driving two hours just to go to Chick-fil-A
Buying roasted peanuts from this sweet lady who sat outside of the hospital and local businesses,
Going to town every single Saturday
And peddling watermelons
With that in mind, recently my wife and I started taking our kids fishing. We don’t care about the fish though. In fact, most trips we don’t catch anything.
No, it’s about the experience. It’s about hanging out together. It’s about building memories.
If your kids would rather spend more time behind a screen than outside or if you consistently get a “No, thanks!” to your requests for company, push them out the front door!
Take them fishing, or to a park, or on a walk.
Take them to peddle watermelons.
Help your kids build the memories they don’t even know they want yet.
They’ll thank you later.
You know, I still love me some Super Mario Brothers. But, I would trade every second I ever played for one more watermelon run in a little white pickup truck.
About the Author:
Stephen Jones and his wife, Emily, are parents of two hilarious children, Kaylee and Colton. You hear things at his house like “I just hit myself in the face with the computer,” “No you can’t have an apple. We have donuts,” or “Dad, I have more hairs than you right?” He writes about faith, family, and fun on his blog. You can read more from Stephen at StephenJonesOnline.com.
RHYTHM SHAPING VALUES
Posted by Reggie Joiner
Rhythm in your home actually shapes your family values.
Think about it.
It establishes what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.
The rhythm in your home determines what gets talked about and what doesn’t get talked about.
What we are inviting you to do is to become more intentional about making the rhythm in your home more strategic. After you have evaluated the typical routines in your home, think of ways you could improve your rhythm. There are so many different possibilities:
What are some other ways to create a more effective rhythm in your home?
About the Author:
Reggie is founder and CEO of Orange (The reThink Group). He has co-written three parenting books, Don't Miss It, Playing for Keeps and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity as well as other leadership books including A New Kind of Leader and Think Orange. Reggie lives in Georgia with his wife, Debbie, and has four grown children, Reggie Paul, Hannah, Sarah, and Rebekah.
HOW PARENTING MAKES ME INSANE
Posted by Sarah Anderson
Sundays, in our family, are our home maintenance days. It’s the day we do piles of laundry that have accumulated over the week, pick up the stray Legos, put away a clean dishwasher, or load a dirty one, do the grocery shopping and assemble backpacks for the coming week. And by Sunday evening, when my husband and I finally sit on the couch it feels good that 80% of the socks were matched, there are no visible Legos in my line of sight—though my bare feet will certainly find them in the middle of the night—and the kitchen as close to “spotless” as it will ever be, it feels good. Really good. I can go into the week ready to take on the world.
And then Monday morning hits. And the shirt that wants to be worn is still, somehow, dirty— crumpled in a wrinkled heap in the back corner of a closet. And the Lego creations that I thought were meticulously picked up, were somehow left out, and stepped on by a very uncaring mother who should have known better than to actually walk directly in the room because this was the perfect place to keep said Lego creations. And the kitchen so nicely picked up only looked good for less than 12 hours, because then there were two different breakfasts to make—and lunches to be packed, and coffee to be inhaled, and when I finally get to closing the door behind the SLOWEST WALKERS ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET, I see the disaster that is my house, and I want to cry.
In one whirlwind of a morning, it was all undone.
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results. If that’s true, most parents I know are certifiably insane. Every week I have my routine, and I do it, fully aware that Monday is coming. I grit my teeth and clench my jaw and get. the. laundry. done. even if it kills me, even if I know the pile of unmatched socks is slowly growing larger than the pile of matched ones. And I unload the dishwasher in denial that as soon as I’m done the dishes in the sink will fill it right back up again to be run. Again. And I do what I do every Sunday in spite of knowing the window of happiness it brings is actually very small. And that the sense of settledness I have when I do it, doesn’t last nearly long enough. I do it.
Because I am insane.
In science, there is a thing called “the framework problem.” I’m not a scientist, but as best I understand, the framework problem basically means we, as humans, aren’t very good at recognizing boundaries—or frameworks. For example, when Henry Ford made the Model T, he thought he was inventing something that would improve transportation. And it did—but there was a framework problem. Because that wasn’t all it did. The boundaries people had in mind were too small. It revolutionized modern society. It changed the way cities were built. It changed the climate on the planet.
In the same way, when the television was invented it was seen as an additional form of entertainment. But there was a framework problem. People never expected it to change the dynamic of the family. People didn’t anticipate how central it would become to culture in the second half of the 20th century and into the 21st.
We’re bad at boundaries. We had a framework problem with the car. We had a framework problem with the TV. And I think, sometimes, we have a framework problem with parenting. We think the mindless, but demanding tasks that keep our house running and our children functioning have only an effect on the here and the now. We think the clean house matters only as long as it stays clean. The cleaned up Legos, are only about the cleaned up Legos.
But they’re not. And in fact, I think the happiest, healthiest, and most well-adjusted parents are the insane ones. Who do it over and over again knowing it won’t stay that way. But doing it anyway. Because they aren’t just insane. They are hopeful. They are resilient. They see much farther into the future than Monday morning.
Because here’s the thing. When you are in the throes of parenting, doing the painstaking labor to keep the house in livable conditions, you need to believe the framework problem is a real thing. That the work you know will be undone in a matter of hours was still worth it, because it’s pushing boundaries you can’t see. You need to hope that it matters, in some small way, in some yet undetected sense. You need to know that even if you can’t see it, even if you don’t understand it, even if it sounds crazy, you need to believe that the laundry is about more than the laundry. The dishes are about more than the dishes. The matched socks about more than just matched socks.
We need to believe that one day, when our kids grow up they will look back and they won’t remember the insanity of our routines and our rhythms, of our endless cleaning, and folding, washing and stacking. They will remember that in the ways they can’t quite pinpoint, in the tasks they didn’t ever really notice, in the—what seemed to them—intangible ways, we made a childhood for them. A life. An actual life.
We didn’t fold laundry. We communicated care.
We didn’t do dishes. We communicated attention.
We didn’t pick up Legos. We loved.
And we did it over and over and over again. And that may make us insane. Or that may make us the biggest believers, dreamers, and hope-ers around. In other words, that may make us exactly what our kids need us to be, but don’t even know to ask for.
And if that’s true, I’m okay. I’ll do it all over again, every Sunday. And watch it fall apart again every Monday. And repeat. Because there’s a framework problem. I’m counting on it. I’m hoping for it.
In fact, I’m sure of it. And if that makes me insane, so be it.
YOUR CUE: This week, every time you pick up the legos (or pry one out of your foot), remember the things you do over and over again matter more than you think.
About the Author:
Sarah Anderson is a writer and communicator who has been involved in ministry since 2003. She is a lead writer and content creator for Orange's XP3 High School curriculum. Sarah lives in Roswell, Georgia, and is a big fan of her husband, Rodney, her two boys, Asher and Pace, and, in her weaker moments, McDonald's French fries. Read more from Sarah on her blog,
THE BEST THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR KIDS IS LEAVE
Posted by Ted Lowe
If you’re married and raising children together, the best thing you can do for your kids is leave . . . for the night . . . and go on a date with your spouse.
We all love our kids and want what’s best for them.
We sign them up for activities and sports, which is good.
We want them to have time with friends, which is good.
We want them to make good grades, so they will get into a good college, so they will get a good job, so they ___________________________.
We all want to fill in that blank with good things.
But if we are not careful, we might forget to do the thing our child needs most: love our spouse.
The best thing you can do for your kids is leave for the night and go on a date with your spouse.
THE THING YOUR KIDS NEED MOST
Philip Cowan, Ph.D., a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has studied families for decades with his wife, psychologist Carolyn Pape Cowan, Ph.D. says, “Kids whose parents’ relationship has cooled are more likely to have behavioral or academic problems than kids of happy couples. Even if you can’t see yourself going out on a date for yourselves, do it for your kids.”1
My wife and I go on a date almost every week. We take a few hours each week just for us. We work out together, see movies, have a meal, we talk, and ask each other silly questions. We have uninterrupted time to re-connect. Dating lifts our heads from the chaos of kids and work and allows us to see each other.
It really matters, but not just for us, for our kids. Carol Ummel Lindquist, Ph.D. and author says, “The irony is that a strong relationship with your spouse is one of the best things you can do for your kids. You and your spouse are modeling a good relationship, which sets your children up for better marriages themselves when they grow up.” 2
But what if you don’t have a great relationship right now? Or what if you are navigating the complicated world of step parenting and blended families?
You now have an incredible opportunity to work through the messiness and model for your kids what it looks like to fight for your relationships.
Start by making fun and connection a priority in your marriage, even when it’s hard or it seems there’s not enough time or never enough money. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Just leave for a little while—without the kids—and go on a date with your spouse. It’s one of the best things you could do for your kids.
Free Resource: Spend Less Time Planning and More Time Dating (4 Free Date Ideas)
For more on creating a great marriage, check out the book Your Best Us by Ted Lowe at YourBestUs.com. Four easy to do, easy-to-understand habits for anyone who wants a better marriage. You can also read more marriage building articles at MarriedPeople.org.
1 Robinson, Holly. “Happy Parents, Happy Kids.” Parents, Jun 2009
2 Bettina, Teri. “How to save your marriage from your kids.” CNN, Jul 29, 2009.
About the Author:
Ted Lowe is a speaker and the director of MarriedPeople, the marriage division at Orange. He served for almost 10 years as the director of MarriedLife at North Point Community Church. He lives near Atlanta, Georgia, with his four favorite people: his wife, Nancie, and their three children.
COMPARISON IS THE THIEF OF CONTENTMENT
Posted by Liz Hansen
“Gracie gets super excited when her big brother comes into the room and calls out ‘bubba!’ Plus she says ‘doggy’ and ‘book’ and ‘ball’ and ‘milk.’ She’s just so bright and never stops chattering!”
My Facebook friend was enthusing about her 9-month-old.
My 15-month-old son was currently stuck on “dada” for everything. Even “mama,” which had shown up for awhile, had dropped out of the rotation.
I gritted my teeth and scrolled down past another friend’s professional family photo shoot in a sunset meadow.
We may have a gazillion photos of my son—but only a scant few iPhone snapshots of the three of us together. My husband, a filmmaker, hates being in front of the camera.
It didn’t help when yet another post in the feed showed actual modeling shots of an out-of-state friend’s toddler.
My kid is seriously cute. But his cry face (which rivals Claire Danes’ on Homeland) isn’t going to be selling overpriced fruit and quinoa puree pouches any time soon.
I finally did what I should have done ten minutes before. I closed Facebook, took a deep breath, and tried to assess the unsettled knot tumbling around inside me.
Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”
“Comparison is the thief of contentment,” is equally true.
Before becoming a parent, I was continually tempted to compare myself to others: My writing, my run times, my interior decorating (or lack thereof), my homemade pizza. I could always find a quick shortcut to discontentment.
Now, as a parent, I face a whole new set of temptations to engage in comparison.
MILESTONES: those stony, immovable pillars of speech and motor skills and pretend play. Stop eating those wood chips, kid. Don’t you see the other toddlers climbing the slide on their own? I mean, you’re deep-sixing a full-ride scholarship to college right now. And that’s bad news based on the state of your college fund.
If you’re going to be a musical prodigy, you should be able to pick out tunes on the piano by now. Your cousin was singing do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do at 18 months. And please, you have to sit at the piano, don’t stand on the keys!
This is the church toddler room, not Alcatraz. See all the fun toys? And look at the other babies. They’re all happy and smiling because they love Jesus. They want to play nicely until their mommas come back. They aren’t howling and clinging to anyone’s leg.
My son starts pre-school in a few months. (How is that even possible?) While I know it’s important for him to spend time learning to get along with other kids, I’m painfully aware it will open up many new avenues for comparison.
What if he doesn’t behave as well as the other kids?
What if my room snacks aren’t Pinterest enough? (Not to mention his lunches…)
What if I don’t look as good as all those moms in the drop-off line who are ten years younger than me?
Comparison is the moving sidewalk you wander onto, the one that whisks you 50 yards away to a bad place before you take a step. It’s always right there, just one tiny thought away, ready to slide you silently, deeply into a mire of discontent.
Contentment, simply speaking, is choosing to be happy with what you’ve got. It’s relying on God to give you the power to control your thoughts. To recognize comparison when it creeps in and to rip it up by the roots before it can grow. It’s learning to live in a state of gratitude for even the smallest things.
I still want my son to be an early and avid reader, a musical prodigy, an enthusiastic young hiker, an independent spirit. But aside from teaching him to love God and love others, the greatest gift I can give him is to model contentment. If he can learn to see and find joy in even the smallest, simplest things God has given him, he’s found something of far more value than performing a cello recital by age three.
And when I see him fully absorbed in a dandelion or mesmerized by a trail of ants… I think he may already be further along that path than I am.
About the Author:
Elizabeth Hansen has worked as a script writer and story developer for Orange since 2011. She holds an MFA in screenwriting from Regent University and writes for Feature Presentation, Get Reel, FX, and more. Elizabeth and her husband, David, write and produce films through their company, Arclight Studios. They have one son and live in Canton, Georgia.
ONE SIMPLE WAY TO DECREASE YOUR CHANCES OF RAISING A BRAT
Posted by Holly Crawshaw
My husband and I just got back from taking our girls to Hilton Head, South Carolina for a long weekend. There were bike-riding adventures, hot dogs on the beach, and early bedtimes (thank you, swimming, for exhausting my children like no other activity) – a great time was had by all.
It was not all sunshine and giggles.
All the whining.
ALL THE NEEDS EVER IN THE WORLD.
What is it about staying in close-quarters that brings out the neediness in people? The most impatience in people? The most downright SQUALORYLY nature in people?
I realized, on this vacation, that if I’m not very careful, my children (Lilah, 8 and Esmae, 4) could easily become entitled brats.
No, you may not have another 74-gram-of-sugar-laden snow cone.
No, we will not be renting this movie for $18.99. We didn’t pay that much to see it in the movie theater.
No, you may not go to the pool now. We’ve been at the beach for 15 seconds, and I’m sweating like I stole something.
No, you may not purchase this $45 boogie board that we can buy at home at 5 Below.
No, you may not pout at dinner when your grilled cheese has brown on the edges of the bread.
(FURTHERMORE, DO YOU KNOW WHAT I WOULD GIVE TO BE A 5-YEAR-OLD EATING A GUILT-FREE, GOOEY GRILLED CHEESE?!)
MY KIDS ARE ALWAYS WANTING SOMETHING.
Now, this isn’t the first time this obvious tidbit of knowledge has settled uneasily on my consciousness. But it is the first time that I looked in the mirror and saw a major contributing factor . . . ME.
Newsflash: One of the main reasons my kids can act bratty is that I, myself, have a fair amount of bratty tendencies.
Of course I “mask” my entitled behavior in a far more socially-acceptable way than pouting and yanking on my mother’s skirt, but it’s there.
It’s there when I grumble under my breath (or not-so-under) when the server walks by me for the third time without acknowledging me. (I keep insisting it’d be more efficient to simply give me an IV tap of Diet Coke, but the world has yet to acquiesce . . . )
It’s there when I needlessly shift my weight from foot to foot no fewer than thirty times when I’m waiting to check out at the hotel market.
It’s there when I complain about how long it takes for the valet to bring our car around. (I cringe to write that—I mean, in a world where I have the privilege to have a car BROUGHT AROUND FOR ME . . . I am genuinely ashamed.)
I am not openly selfish or entitled. But just subtly enough. In traffic, at the grocery store, around the house. I have an underlying attitude of ‘what’s-best-for-me’ that grosses me out.
Here I am, trying to zone out and enjoy the sun and sand, and life hands me an existential crisis.
Newsflash, self: If I want my kids to grow up to be generous, patient, joy-bringing people . . .
I’M GOING TO HAVE TO BE A GENEROUS, PATIENT, JOY-BRINGING PERSON.
I didn’t grow up with a lot. My parents divorced when I was in middle school. I’ve had a job since I was 14 years old. I used scholarship money and waited tables to put myself through college. I have bounced a check. I have counted change to pay for gas. I have eaten Ramen noodles more times than I can count.
And yet—I know, relatively speaking, that I still have had many, many advantages that others are not afforded. Why can’t I live—on the surface and beneath the surface—out of that truth?
My challenge to myself this summer is live like I need nothing more. To live patiently. To live generously. I want to bring joy, wherever I go, regardless of what’s happening around me.
I want to model the behavior I expect from my girls—giving them a front row seat to a summer of gratitude and thanksgiving.
(Which would genuinely be easier with that IV tap of Diet Coke . . . but . . . I’ll manage, otherwise.)
About the Author:
Holly Crawshaw is a wife, mother, and writer who eats sour candy and laughs at her own jokes. She served on staff with North Point Ministries for six years, the latter of which was spent as Preschool Director. She and her husband, Ben, are raising their two daughters, Lilah and Esmae, in their hometown of Cumming, GA.
TWO MYTHS ABOUT CREATIVITY
Posted by Cara Martens
Creativity is a hot topic these days, but the idea is sometimes misunderstood. Here are two myths that could actually squelch creativity if believed.
Myth #1 – You are born creative or you’re not.
Creativity is not a gene that’s passed on like red hair. It can be developed. We are all born natural problem solvers. And problems require us to get creative. We might create a new solution or even express how we feel about the problem as a way to process it.
I’m pretty confident that you as a parent are creative—a lot. It’s the nature of the job! Your child doesn’t want to eat dinner, so you pass out kid chopsticks or set up a picnic in the middle of the floor to change things up. Your teen doesn’t seem to want to hang out or talk anymore—so you plan a day full of his favorite or new things and surprise him by inviting close friends. We’re all creative—we’re just aren’t necessarily seeing or naming all that we do as using our “creativity”.
The next time there’s a problem, try inviting your kids or teens into the action. Say “I wonder what we should do…” and trail off. Their amazing minds will start to fill in the blank automatically. You can build on or bounce off their ideas.
Myth #2 – Creativity happens in an instant—out of nowhere.
Actually, creativity is rarely making something from nothing—that’s God’s job. Instead, creativity is more like making new connections or combining things in a different way.
One of my favorite movie examples of this was in Apollo 13 when something on the shuttle broke way out in space. An engineer walks into a crowded conference room and dumps a bag of stuff in the middle of the table and basically says, “This is what they’ve got up there—so we’ve got to find a way to fix the problem using just this—oh and they’re running out of air!”
Creativity is a process and it actually thrives on challenge, so constraints—like using only certain materials or having a time limit—are actually helpful.
Here are some quick tips to try to develop creativity in your kids (and yourself):
Create challenge scenarios by providing a few simple resources. Here’s a few ideas to start:
Embrace Real Challenges. More than anything, creativity is an attitude. We’ve got to positively model it—which basically means talking through the process out loud instead of just mentally brainstorming and solving things all by ourselves. This way our kids and teens can see it’s a natural and normal part of everyday life.
Try reframing negative problems or frustrations into an exciting challenge whenever possible—rub your hands together as you start to wonder about all the different things you could try– “What if…?” and “How about…?” Be loud and proud that your family is the type of people that like and thrive on challenges.
What other myths did I miss that prevent us from raising creative kids? What other things would you add to this list to develop more creativity in our kids? I’d love to continue the conversation, so add your comments below.
About the Author:
Cara Martens loves to write, research, and develop creative ideas. She and her husband, Kevin, have two kids and live in Texas. Read more from Cara on Twitter, @CaraMartens.
3 SIMPLE TIME HACKS FOR PARENTS
Posted by Carey Nieuwhof
So you probably think you would be a much better parent if you had more hours in the day, don’t you?
Bummer that life doesn’t work that way. When you have another child, it’s not like someone shows up and magically hands you another 4 hours a day. Nope, now you have to manage 100% more kids (or 50% or 25% more kids) with exactly zero extra time. No wonder parenting feels hard.
To complicate things, time feels like it’s speeding up as your kids get older. Although some days feel like an eternity, as Sandra Stanley has often said, the days are long but the years are short. The kids will be in college or the workplace before you know it.
So what do you do? How do you handle the time pressures of parenting and life in the stage you’re in?
I’ve discovered a few things that really help me. I hope they can help you.
1. ABANDON BALANCE
If you’re like most people, you’re hoping for some kind of balance in your life. A better balance of work and home, of time for yourself and time with your family or even a few hobbies.
But you ever notice this? Greatness and balance never seem go together.
In fact, most truly great people aren’t balanced people. They’re passionate people.
Passion gets you further than balance. Imagine approaching everything you did in life with passion.
Throwing your heart into all you do can really make a difference. Even when you rest…rest well. When you’re home, be home. Passionately pursue your top priorities.
I think passion creates a far more compelling story than balance does.
As John Wesley famously said, “Light yourself on fire with passion, and people will come from miles around to watch you burn.”
2. DECIDE AHEAD OF TIME HOW YOU’LL SPEND YOUR TIME
So you want to have a date night with your spouse, but life keeps crowding it out. Ditto with family night. Family night way too often becomes homework night or clean-up-dinner-because-we’re-running-late night. Same with your devotion time. etc etc etc.
A simple fix is this: Decide ahead of time how you will spend your week. I did this years ago when I moved to a fixed calendar. Leadership puts a lot of demands on my time, and I realized I could easily work non-stop and miss the most important things in life.
So I started booking appointments with myself, my family, and my priorities. Every Friday night became date night. Every Saturday was family day. Every Sunday afternoon was family time to rest and relax. Every Monday was a writing day—with zero meetings. Etc etc.
The value in plotting this out ahead of time is simple: When someone asks you what you’re doing Saturday, you look at your calendar and tell them as much as you’d love to join them, you already have a commitment. You don’t need to tell them it’s with your family.
3. STOP SAYING YOU DON’T HAVE THE TIME
Your best friend asks you when you’re going to get that bathroom finished, and you instinctively reply “I just haven’t had the time for that yet.”
Your boss wants you to take an another project at work and you say, “I really don’t have the time for that.”
Well, that’s actually not true. You have exactly the same amount of time as every other person on planet earth. You have the same amount of time today as someone running a multi-million dollar company, as the President of the United States and as a researcher who just won the Nobel Prize. We all get 24 hours a day.
A few years ago, I made myself stop saying I didn’t have the time. Because the truth is, I did. Instead, I started saying (to myself) “I’m not going to make the time.”
That’s a massive shift in mindset, and you have to be careful not to say it out loud or you’ll lose all your friends. But when you admit to yourself that you’re not going to make the time for date night, that you’re not going to make the time to read a story to your five-year-old, or that you’re not going to make the time to exercise . . . it changes things.
So stop saying you don’t have the time. Start admitting to yourself that you’re just not making the time. Things will change.
These three time hacks—abandoning balance, deciding ahead of time how I’ll spend my time, and refusing to say I don’t have the time—have helped me spend my time far better than I used to.
Imagine spending the time God gives on the things you really should do. Now, you’re a little closer to knowing how.
About the Author:
Carey Nieuwhof is the lead pastor of Connexus Church and author of several books, including Parenting Beyond Your Capacity (with Reggie Joiner) and his latest book, "Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow." Carey speaks to church leaders around the world about leadership and parenting. He writes one of the most widely read church leadership blogs at www.CareyNieuwhof.com and hosts the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast where he interviews top leaders each week.
MEANINGFUL VS. MANIC BEDTIME ROUTINES
Posted by Melissa Thorson
There are a few things I could learn from my husband:
It’s not that I don’t love those sweet bedtime stories and final snuggles with my kids that I see are numbered in a child’s life—it’s just that I allow my preoccupation with what awaits me after the bedtime circus to stress me out—the sink full of dishes, the lunches to pack, or the alluring uninterrupted time to chat with my husband, or watch a non-animated show.
My tone and my word choice follow a predictable pattern many nights, despite the fact that I dislike the tone that my hurriedness creates in our home. “Alright, it’s 7:24. We have 6 minutes until lights out.” “If you’re not in your bed by the time I count to 10, no books tonight!” Meanwhile, frantic children with one foot in their PJ’s and toothpaste foam dripping down their chins are taking frantic leaps from floor to bed as the timekeeper barks through the halls.
My husband, however, takes a different (and, arguably, a better) approach when he’s leading the bedtime routine. He often is so immersed in the pre-bed chase/tickling/wrestling that the pulse of the room is only fun (with no room for frantic). Once bedtime is imminent (or even past time), his calm connection with the boys carries over into the nighttime setting. Books are read expressively—with no skipped pages for the sake of hurry. Questions are asked and thoroughly answered. Prayers are said with meaning and intention. Snuggles are savored and stretched out even though the clock (and antsy mommy who clings to routine) say things are running behind.
But I’ve seen, more times than I can count, the fruit of lengthy bedtime conversations with the boys and their dad. Fruit that offers more lasting benefit than an extra restful night’s sleep. If I had been left to my own punctuality-obsessed devices, the following moments between dad and sons could have been missed:
These quiet moments, when left untainted by rushing and preoccupation, serve as reminders that home is the safe place—to ask harmless questions about how the world works and a place to cry out for help and comfort. A place to feel loved and heard no matter what.
Don’t get me wrong—I am still a firm believer that good sleep is important and that sleep deprivation can create a vicious change in kids that can carry over for days. I will always be a firm supporter of bedtime routine and predictability—but I’m learning that amidst routine, there needs to be space for spontaneity. Practically speaking, I’m seeing that if we plan for dinner and bath time to happen earlier, then the bedtime “rush” can become more leisurely. Or, if we divide and conquer putting the baby to sleep while beginning bedtime with the big kid, we can both end the night together in the room with the big kid who is old enough to want to chat with us at night.
What have you found works best for savoring the quiet moments during tucking-in? (Even though you know there are dishes, bills, or even your first 5 minutes of personal time waiting on the other side).
About the Author:
Melissa is a former high school English teacher turned stay-at-home mom who traded in the essay grading for diaper changing . . . both of which offer their fair share of crap. She has always loved teenagers and feared little kids until she had her own. 90% of the joy in her life comes from her husband, Steve; her sons, Crosby and Miller; and her amazing extended family and friends. The rest comes from cooking and taking online personality assessments.
CREATE A RHYTHM
Posted by Parent Cue
It’s moving fast.
We will never have more of it than we already have.
So the issue is not how do we get more, but how do we become more intentional about what we have?
How can we manage our time strategically to parent beyond our capacity?
How about taking a look at your family rhythm? Every family has one. Rhythm is how we arrange our time. As we go from day to day, we establish and shape a rhythm that in turn shapes our kids.
Rhythm establishes value. Things that become part of the daily rhythm are the things our families will come to believe are most important. Rhythm silently but significantly communicates value.
There are some things that may be conceptually very important to us as parents, but if we never include them in our families’ rhythms, our kids will perceive them as having little value. For example, exercise might be important to a parent in principle, but if no one ever plays baseball in the backyard, takes a trip to the park, throws a Frisbee, jumps on a treadmill, or heads to a soccer field, why would the kids come to value exercise? If it’s not part of their rhythm, it’s not part of their reality. The same is true for faith. If you want to instill an everyday faith in your kids lives, you have to incorporate faith in the daily rhythm.
Every family rhythm is different, but on a basic level, everyone wakes up, eats, travels, and sleeps. In Deuteronomy 6, Moses taps into this natural rhythm when he encourages his people to nurture lasting faith in their kids. “Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
He was essentially saying, if you are going to impress these truths in the hearts of your children, you will have to be more deliberate about creating a rhythm within your home.
So think your family’s weekly rhythm. What does it look like?
Which nights do you tend to eat together?
What do you do when you first get home from work?
What is your nighttime routine to get ready for bed?
What do you do every Saturday morning?
How do you spend Sundays?
What can you do this week to be more intentional in your interactions with your kids during those moments?
Parents have an advantage when it comes to the issue of time. At least until your children are old enough to drive, you have a window of opportunity to maximize a relationship with your children by the way you handle time. The time you spend together as a family should be both interactive and intentional. When both are true, you increase the capacity and influence of your time with your kids.