So What the Heck Is “Quality” Family Time?

School is about to start. As a kid, that meant waking up way too early, not getting to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it, and way too much school work. As a parent, it means that finally I can go to the bathroom in peace, I get to do what I want to do when I want to do it, and I’ll finally get some work done. I say this all (half) joking. I love my family. More than anything I want my daughters to know Jesus as their Savior and raise them to be true Believers in Jesus Christ. I know that this, more than anything, means I need to spend time with my family. I actually don’t think there is such a thing as “quality” time. I think busy parents invented that term so they didn’t feel guilty about not spending much time with their kids. I think “time” is what our kids need. It almost doesn’t matter what we are doing with that “time” as long as we do it as a family together.

One would think that with all our technological advances that families would be able to spend more time together than ever. No more going down to the river for laundry. No more running back to work because you left an important file in your office. So all the hours we save every week with these “conveniences,” why does it feel like we are spending less and less time with our families? Even statistics reveal that we are more stressed than any generation before us; and our kids are experiencing that stress as well. Everything in our society is built on immediacy. All the accessibility that technology brought us, didn’t really bring us closer together. More and more has crept into “family time.” Reversing this trend in your home will not be easy, but, here are 5 ways to do it. Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

1) Fight to get home from work on time

This includes those that work out of the home. When family time is to begin, the laptop closes. We get fired if we keep showing up to work late, but we don’t treat being late to home as having the same consequences. The fact is, the consequences are far more severe. Spouses and children will at least subconsciously believe that your job is more important than them. Leaving work on-time, is never easy or everyone would do it. It doesn’t matter if you’re the boss or work on the cash register; you will either fight for your family or be willing to work to stay away from them. That sounds harsh, but it’s not usually the “jobs” fault, it’s your fault for not setting up proper boundaries. Mending those boundaries won’t be easy, so start prioritizing today.

2) Schedules are a busy family’s best friend

Scheduling fun sounds horribly boring; but scheduled fun, is a million times better than no fun at all. Families want to do activities together, but they’re tired when they come home from work and school to really think what they want to do. Even 5 minutes of planning on a Sunday afternoon can reap huge benefits. Look at your week and all the events that are going to creep up on you. Find the one day you’re all free and schedule something for the whole family. It can be as elaborate as going to Busch Gardens or as simple as inviting another family over for game night. Suddenly you just helped another home de-stress too – bonus points.

3) Limit your children’s after school activities

Now that you are going to be engaging your children more often, there is less need for your kids to be out of the house every night of the week. Your children have taken cues from you that more time away from home is better. Sports, music, tutoring, church, boy scouts, dance, and who knows what else have all been dumped on top of school and homework (which seems more prolific these days. Seriously, teachers have 8 hours to teach these kids, you’re doing something wrong if you can’t fit it all in.) Something has to give, and you are the parent so help your children make the right decision. At any given time, pick a sport to play and an extra-curricular activity. That’s it. Let a kid explore this diverse world we live in. You might have a musician, an athlete, a NASCAR driver, or an artist on your hands. No one needs to practice something 5 nights a week year round. Interesting stat, 75% of NFL players participated in more than 3 sports in high school. Thus, year round sports are crazy and weird. The key is to keep sports or other activities fun, and see what interests them, but limit it to 2-3 nights a week out of the house – max.

4) Go to Church together.

We all know that “do as I say and not as I do” doesn’t really work. A living, breathing example is what truly instills teaching. We can’t say that our faith in Jesus is important if they don’t see it in our lives. Going to church together as a family reveals aspects of our faith that we can’t quite see only at home. We all are a small piece in something bigger. Helping children see how they fit into that larger picture of God’s Kingdom will help them grow as a Christian. Church is a place where you meet with other like-minded people to accomplish something greater together. Friendships are built. A community is formed. Our society thinks the more friends they have on social media, the less lonely they will be. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Those relationships are informative but lack any emotional depth, and thus there’s more depression than ever. We need real, human relationships. Church can bring various relationships for the whole family. Beyond that, there is less and less in our society that actually reflects biblical principles, and thus being truly committed to a church is more important than ever in America.

5) Find what works for your family

Who am I to tell you how to make your family work? I’m trying to figure out how to make my family work. The key is to make sure circumstances, problems, activities, and work DO NOT dictate how your family is going to operate. That’s what “priorities” actually mean. Your family needs to be a calling and a mission that Christ himself has called you to. It puts the rest of life into perspective. So what have you done to help instill faith into your family? Please, let me know in the comments below so I can take notes.

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