It was one of those rare weekday mornings when I had had worked late the night before and found myself with nowhere to rush off to early. The big kids were already up and out the door, and my husband had dropped them off at school on his way to Bible Study. All of a sudden, my youngest child cannon-balled into my bed, and we curled up for a spoon full of snuggles.
Cherishing Special Moments
Normally, I’m up and moving the minute the alarm goes off, but today I stopped and lingered. My daughter’s summer vacation was almost over, and I wanted to hold on tight to her littleness, play with her golden tresses and enjoy these precious few minutes before first grade interrupted. Both of us sensed it was a special moment, and we clung to it.
We chatted and giggled, and I told her stories about visiting my grandma’s farm as a child and the abandoned school house across the street. I described the summer my cousin and I finally worked up the nerve to kick open the door of the old outhouse that we were sure was haunted. Kolby oohed and awed and wiggled with anticipation. Of course, she didn’t know what an outhouse was, so that opened up a new conversation about old-school sanitation. Somehow, the outhouse morphed into us watching crazy cat videos and laughing hysterically.
An hour later, we ended up downstairs eating waffles and feeling deeply refreshed in our stolen moments to connect. I still had to go to work, and there were many things to cross off the to-do list for that day, but I was positive I had checked the box off the most important one: cherishing a moment with my child.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of work and activities that we miss out on the little moments that mean the most. Even good activities like sports and church can steal time if we aren’t careful about moderating our schedules. Add in television and social media, and it only exacerbates a loss of connection with our kids. Becoming intentional with our time is crucial if we don’t want to miss out on the details of our children’s days. The following are a few ways to intentionally make space to connect with your family and seize the smallest moments.
1. Schedule Downtime
When you make your weekly calendar, add in appointments to do absolutely nothing. That’s right, I said, “Schedule in zilch.” Then, use that time to relax and be with your kids and spouse. Maybe it’s taking a leisurely walk and talking, cooking together, building a Lego fort, grabbing a cup of coffee, watching a special family movie or playing a card game. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as there is no agenda other than to be with the people you love the most. Use this time to talk over things that are bothering you, encourage one another and create a safe and relaxed space for the people you love.
The very first day your kids start school, you will be bombarded by sign-up sheets to volunteer, coach a team or organize the bake sale. Your kid will be invited to three birthday parties on the same weekend, and you will have to maneuver your spots on the calendar to even make room for a church service. There are family obligations, too, and that’s before you add in your enormous workload.
Life gets crazy fast if we don’t pull in the reigns and slow down. A wise mentor once told me that for everything you add in to your life, make sure to drop something. You only have so much time, energy and self to give, so don’t waste it on the things that leave you sucked dry and with nothing beautiful left to offer to your family. Pick what’s best for you and your family and let go of the rest. Then, do it again the next week and the week after that. Be picky about friends that bring life and joy and stick with those relationships. Find your sweet spot by doing less, not more, and your family will benefit from having a better you.
3. Do Mundane Tasks Together
Some of my best memories with my kids and husband are doing simple and mundane things together that became extraordinary when done with the people I love. It doesn’t have to be an awesome outing or excursion to gently probe into your kid’s head and discern what’s in their heart.
My teenage son generally opens up more if we are doing something together where the focus isn’t on him. Raking leaves or working on the garden is perfect for a conversation where he can relax and share without pressure. Maybe it’s getting frozen yogurt after a Costco run, cleaning the house as a family with the music booming or driving carpool and listening to the ins and outs of my kids’ lives. The mundane chores are simply another opportunity to connect if you watch out for the right moments.
4. Eat Together
A meal with the family is always the best part of my day. It’s a chance to sit and talk to my husband and kids without interruptions. We laugh, we cry and we get honest as we break bread and invite God to work in our family and hearts. As a clan of five, we often eat late because of sports, but we always prioritize being together. This ritual prepares our kids for a lifetime of memories and prioritizing one another.
I believe relationships matter. Moments matter. People matter. These are the things that will last, so invest in them. Make the most of your days by celebrating the small joys in life, and open yourself up to the unexpected beauty of the moments that take our breath away.
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