Recently I wrote a post titled, 5 Priorities for Families in the New Year. One priority I mentioned was the importance of creating quantity and quality family time. The challenge for most families is trying to find quantity and quality family times in our increasingly busy lives. Before we know it, we have no time for ourselves or our families, we are worn out, and our relationships are strained.
In this post we will look at how we can effectively schedule family time, as well as focus in on 4 essential times for families that will help us to be healthier and relationally richer.
Scheduling Family Times
The biggest schedule lesson I have learned is this: Schedule the most important family commitments before anything else. Now, obviously days like Sunday and maybe a Wednesday midweek program are always on our schedules, but apart from those kind of regular activities, there is a lot of flexibility in our scheduling. Therefore, before everything else gets added in, I ensure that the following priorities get added into my schedule.
4 Essential Family Times
1) Family Meal Times: Believe it or not, it’s easy to miss these simple family times. It’s also very easy to be late to dinner regularly if we are not careful. Constant lateness home for dinner is a big deal since it communicates the wrong message to our spouse and kids. Therefore, I actually write dinner and lunches into my schedule, otherwise they can get overlooked. It also helps my wife know what to plan on a weekly basis if she knows I am going to be home for certain meals.
2) Date Nights: *Myself and my wife used to be able to have a weekly date night before we had kids! Now we are lucky if it’s once a month. We usually plan these nights out 1-2 months in advance. When I take time to make these date nights a priority, it communicates that my spouse is more important than anything else. It also ensures that we always have something to look forward to when life is busy and challenging.
*Date nights aren’t just for married people. If you are a single parent, I encourage you to start a date night tradition with you kids. Have them choose what to do, (within reason), and make sure you plan it in advance.
3) Family Nights: Now that we have two kids, we have an intentional family night where we do something “out of the normal”. It could be a family bike ride and picnic on a summer evening, or a family game / movie night on a cold winter evening. Again, we do these family nights every two weeks and schedule them in 1-2 months in advance.
4) Traditions: For us family traditions are so important! Throughout the year we have these small events / getaways planned that we all look forward to. These range from overnight getaways to a hotel with water-park, to our yearly trip to the apple orchard. As adults it’s easy to lose the excitement and anticipation of these simple events and trips. But I know how important these memory makers are for my kids! If you were to talk to my kids, they would tell you that the yearly trip to a German style town called Frankenmuth in Michigan is there highlight! Most importantly, it’s one of many yearly traditions we have established that always give us something positive to look forward to and memories to look back on…
What are your essential times as a family? What traditions have made a difference to your family?