Making Time For Family

We spend a lot of time together as a family unit in the summer. Whether it's vacation or just a walk around the block, we find time to be together. Sometimes it can even seem like we spend too much time together.

But then the school year rolls around and it can seem like we barely see one another. This week, we won't all be home together in the evening any night. Between deacon's meeting, soccer practice, youth worker training and a conference that I'm speaking at, finding any family time has been tough. This is an atypical week for us, but I've noticed that the older my kids get the more weeks like this we tend to have.

Family time is important. When we hang out together as a family, whether it's and evening of watching America's Got Talent or a weeklong vacation, it creates memories and strengthens the bonds between family members. And that's why we have to be intentional in making time for our families to spend time together.

When we have family times that are fun and memorable, we foster the sense that we are available to our kids. We also create bonds between siblings. Romans 12:10 says "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." Now, devoted is not generally the word that comes to mind when I think of how my girls view each other. But when we make time to create memories as a family, we come closer to that goal.

So, on a week when no one is home together, when homework takes two hours out of the afternoon, when your calendar squares are full enough to burst, how do you make time for your family? How do you create memories that are lasting?

Schedule family time. We put everything else on our calendars from the school lunch menu to our haircut appointments, but if you're like me, you rarely schedule in family time. The only way spending time together is going to happen is if we intentionally make it happen. Find an open block of time on your calendar and schedule some family time -- whether it's a trip to the lake or a game of basketball on the driveway.

Make a list. Sit down with your entire family and make a list of things you'd like to do as a family. Start with things that are free and that you can do in an evening. Work your way up to things like vacations. When you're stumped for an activity, check out the list.

Protect your time. Make sure everyone understands that family time is just that, for family. Friends are great. I love my kids' friends, but the dynamic changes when we add in extra kids. It's no longer about our family. It's about our kids and their friends. Don't schedule over the top of family time. If you don't make it a priority, no one else in your family will either.

Start small. Have a family game night or a night where everyone watches a favorite TV show together. Let each family member have a turn picking the activity.

Be realistic. Family time does strengthen the bonds between you and your kids. It won't, however, always look like the Brady Bunch. Have realistic expectations about what your family time will look like. Your kids will probably argue every now and then. Someone is sure not to like the activity on some nights. There will be days when you've simply had enough of your family. Do your planned activity anyway. You might be surprised to find yourself laughing by the end of the night.

Do what works for you. Some families I know have a family game night every week. Other families will only be able to make intentional family time fit in their schedules once a month. There's no right or wrong way to do this. You may have a family of early risers so an early morning walk might be the best choice for your family. Do what works for you, and don't compare yourself to others.

Carving time out of our schedules to simply be together as a family is the best way to strengthen our family unit. It creates memories and helps relieve the stress of the new school year. Make it a point to sit down with your calendar and schedule some family time today.

 Linking up today with Denise in Bloom.