Time To Perform A Family Audit – More Family Time

Time To Perform A Family Audit - More Family TimeIt’s seven weeks into the school year and you’ve already lost control.  This is not the way you saw the family schedule going.  Every man for himself, everyone going in different directions and there is no family time whatsoever.  It’s like the whole family fell down a steep hill and everyone is rolling faster and faster … in different directions.

Once the family activity year gets rolling, putting on the breaks is difficult.  Most parents just give up and let it roll.  Mom is the one who usually realizes that this just isn’t the best plan for the children. Before you slow the calendar down you have to know why and believe in it.

There are only so many hours in a day.  Time isn’t like money. You can’t spend more time than you have.  We each have a strict time budget of twenty-four hours a day that we are responsible to spend so it will give us the best return-on-investment.  When you spend your time on one thing that means you can’t spend it on another.  The area that almost always gets short changed is family time.  Is time spent as a family really so unimportant?

This is October.  What’s making direct withdrawals from your child’s time account?  It might be good but is it really the best?  Just because the child wanted to do it, is it the best for your child?  When he was a toddler he wanted all cookies but we knew his choice wasn’t the best.  When our son Robey was an early teen he played in a city soccer league. Toward the end of a season he got invited to take it up a notch and lengthen his season by playing on a travel soccer team. Robey was very excited by the privilege and we talked about it.

“Robey,” I began, “this is an honor and I’m excited you got invited.  The challenge I have with this decision I have to make is that it will cost you more time.  Time is like money. When you spend it on travel soccer you’ll have to take it from somewhere else.  Where do you think you will take it from- family time or involvement in youth group at church?  You can’t do it all.”

This was the beginning of helping him set priorities; the beginning of helping him realize that family time is extremely important – that your family is not just the group of people you live with and the adults are your chauffeurs from activity to activity.

Any activity that takes a child away from family had better be well thought out and worth it.

The real why: Is family time that important in the life of the child?  If I can’t answer that question to my own satisfaction, I certainly will not make the necessary effort to re-budget my child’s time allowance and our family’s calendar.  Instead my child will be signed up for more and more activities away from home.

Family time is extremely important because family is the place where a child feels comfortable without having to be socially cool.  Family is where a child can ask questions and a place where a child’s questions are answered even when the child doesn’t know he should be asking the question. Family is where it’s safe to laugh at healthy things. Family is where a child is taught to apply his faith to real life circumstances.  Family is or needs to be fun.

Yes! Family time … well thought out family time is extremely needed in the development of the child and teen.  It’s worth budgeting it in. How? Look at what you’ve already allowed your children and your family to get drawn into spending your time on.  Is it really worth the time, as far as your child’s future development is concerned?  Is it worth time away from your family?  Not what your family is now, but what your family can and will be in the future.

Take the leadership role and start cutting back. Before you cut back, as a couple aggressively agree on what you will put in the time slots to replace the activity you are removing.  Time spent home watching television doesn’t develop the family relationship.  Thursday evenings spent playing games or putting together a model with Dad does.

This is October.  It’s not too late to audit the way your family spends its time.  Don’t get to Christmas and say you wish you had. Do it now, so that you can say you’re glad you did.  Your child won’t thank you now; but mine thanked us later.

Dr. Robert Barnes is the president of Sheridan House Family Ministries. He and his wife, Rosemary, are authors and speakers on marriage and family issues.  To learn more about Pastor Bob Barnes, go to www.sheridanhouse.org.

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