God did a marvelous thing when He designed family. He did so with such care, carefully constructing each aspect so when functioning as designed, it is a sight to behold. Even in this sinful, fallen world I see first hand His glorious design being carried out beautifully, but also (as a blended family mom of 5) His miraculous restoring and building up of the once broken.
I have to confess; I am a homebody. My family is my favorite, and home is my favorite place to be together. The phrase “let’s stay home” hangs loud and proud on our living room wall, and it is one of the key considerations in planning our family’s schedule. As a blended family mom of five, with kids who are constantly going every which way, I have learned we desperately need time together at home to connect, create traditions and memories together, and to just rest and enjoy each other.
I think of all the things we have going on in our lives, and in the lives of our kids: meetings, church events, school, after school activities, extracurriculars, sports, music practice, etc. Raise your hand if your family is involved in more than three of these. Guilty here. These can all play a part in robbing families of time to connect.
Especially in families with multiple children and multiple individual commitments, the scheduling becomes insane. I have always had a strong conviction to be home and to have home time together as a family, but finding a way to juggle and navigate the issue of busyness biblically and with balance can really be a challenge.
The answer should always begin and end with the Bible. I think it’s helpful to frequently step back and view our lives through the lens of scripture to make sure we are living to please God and not man, and with eternity in mind, instead of focusing on the passing things of this world.
The Bible says:
1 John 2: 15-17 “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[c]—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.”
This passage has been helpful to us in navigating the waters of commitments. We absolutely do not have it all figured out, but here are some things we have found helpful to consider regarding scheduling and home life:
- What are our priorities? We do consider family to be a pretty high priority, not just because we really love our people, but because God made family. He carefully designed it: male and female, in marriage, a command to produce children, and careful instructions in how to do raise them. Our upmost priority is that each individual member of our family would grow to love and honor God. Things that foster a love of God in our families would be training in God’s Word, working through life application of God’s Word, worshipping together, and much, much prayer. All these things require a decent amount of time together. Family is where discipleship happens.
- When choosing between things, consider which are of eternal value, and which are passing away with the world. – As of late we have missed several soccer practices and games either because we needed a home night together, or because we had a family event. Sports are passing, family and relationships have eternal significance. Also, it never hurt a child to have to sacrifice on the behalf of others. Kids often don’t want to miss their events, they also would love to eat large amounts of candy every day, but it’s not good for them. Parents need to set boundaries for their kids, not for their happiness, but for their welfare (both spiritual and physical).
- What are some realistic guidelines for having home nights together? Our family tries for at least about 2-3 nights a week that we are home together. ALL of us: Mom, Dad, and kids. As the mom, I try to be in tune with what the family needs. I can usually sense when we need a home night, or when the schedule needs thinned out. I have even had to back-off on some church commitments or volunteering because my family needed me home.
- How long does this last? Rethink or push through? We have one week in April when one girl has soccer and one girl has a play. That week is nuts. My husband and I will do our best to make the running around as smooth as possible. Home nights might be scarce that week, but it’s only a week. If it were longer, we would rethink the commitments.
I find that when I clear out spaces in our schedule for our family to rest and be together, beautiful things happen. Relationships thrive when the stress of running from one thing to the next is absent and bedtime is on time. As a mom, I love watching my girls have the freedom and time to get lost in their favorite things together.
Family is God’s good design. Discipleship happens through families in the home, whether it’s through sorting out disagreements together, “playing animals” for hours, watching episodes of Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman together, or through more intentional means like family devotions or a catechism.
The Bible says it best:
Matthew 6:19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Our family has yet to get it right, and never will completely, but we can continue to bring our lives and schedules under the authority of God and seek to treasure what is lasting.