We live in such a fast-paced world.
No matter how many items we check off of our to-do list each day, there is always more to do and we never feel like we’ve accomplished enough. We spend time each day comparing ourselves to the rest of the world on social media (which, by the way, is most likely a false account of the accomplishments that all of your friends have made each day). We feel like we’ve fallen short… so we do more.
Can I get an Amen from the peanut gallery?
Instead of sitting down to play blocks with my 5 year old, I do the dishes… because, well, the dishes need to be done.
Instead of taking a minute to paint my daughter’s nails, I work 10 more minutes on my computer.
Instead of talking with my husband, I scroll Pinterest for tomorrow night’s supper.
You know what I’ve realized?
Even if I do those dishes now, there will be more dirty dishes. People will keep eating and therefore, the dirty dishes are continuous.
Even if I save that 10 minutes of work until after bedtime, not only will it still be there waiting for me, I will probably be more productive once I can focus solely on my task.
Even if I wait until tomorrow to decide what’s for supper, we will still eat (even if it’s just an egg sandwich!).
My son will only be 5 for a year and may not even want to play with blocks anymore next week. My daughter will only want me to paint her nails for so long… soon she’ll want to go to the salon with friends. My husband needs my attention now; my marriage needs my attention now, lest it fall apart as I neglect it for one more “perfect” recipe that I’m sure to mess up anyways.
So, how do we combat this need to complete one more task and keep our families in tact? Here are a few easy ways that take almost no time or effort.
Start each day with a smile.
When your spouse or kid wakes up, make sure the first thing they see is your smiling face. They need to know that you are happy to see them, that they are important and that you love them. Spend just a few minutes snuggling that 5 year old with a story, or talking through the upcoming events of the day with your older children or spouse.
Make your family a priority. Don’t turn on the news, ignore them while you all get ready to leave and simply say “Bye, love you, have a good day.” Don’t scroll social media for 5 more minutes instead of talking about something interesting during breakfast. Don’t waste the precious time we have on fleeting pleasures.
You can’t avoid cooking. Each day, your family expects food. Yes, every day, at least 3-5 times per day (plus the thousands of snacks they want in between!). There is no getting around it. And with each meal comes grocery shopping, meal preparation, cooking, cleaning and…. Exhaustion.
So, why not make this a time of togetherness? Let the kids help wash the veggies, measure the ingredients and set the table. Have one kid load the dishwasher and another unload it. Have your spouse put away the food afterwards.
In our home, I find myself often saying “Teamwork makes the dreamwork.” I’m not sure who said that originally, but it’s so true. Implementing this in my home has cut my “set up, cook, clean up” time in half, at least.
Now, I have time to do the third thing, which is…
Read together as a family.
Ya’ll, this is life changing.
I’ve always read to my kids. Sometimes, I read in their bedrooms separately. Sometimes, we would all read together on my bed. But I wasn’t consistent. And we were reading different books every night. We are a reading family. We all love books (my favorite smell is the book store…).
But this is how we do it now.
Recently, my husband expressed to me that he loved to listen to me read. We’ve been doing a nightly bible study called “Night Light” that has really been transforming the way we communicate with one another.
So, each night, we all gather up on the couch and I read a chapter aloud. Currently, we are reading the third book in the series “Chronicles of Narnia”by C.S. Lewis. I nurse the baby while my 5 year old plays with Legos or flips through a picture book. The 7 year old often colors or draws something related to the book. My husband sits with us too, when he is home.
At first, I had this false idea of what this would look like. Children gathered up staring with yearning eyes at me while their mouths watered at the next word that I would read.
Y’all. That is not reality. Most nights two of them are arguing over who sits closer to me or bicker about who is touching who. But, they are listening to the story. They get excited to read it every night and can actually recount to me what they are hearing, whether it seems like they are listening or not.
Well, there you have it. It’s not perfect. It’s messy. It’s not going to happen overnight and it probably won’t look like the Instagram picture or hallmark movie that you have in mind. But it will, over time, begin to build better relationships and draw you closer as a family.
So, here is my challenge to you. For the next week, put aside your to-do list, smile at your family, cook together and read together. See if you don’t feel the difference.
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