I recently wrote about connecting in a Crazy Busy world and overs-scheduled lives. We all know that we have too much going on and too little time to get everything done. Something, or someone, gets cheated. Knowing the problem, however is not a solution. Add to that the simple fact that being available to our coworkers, friends, family and having time for our hobbies and enthusiasms seems like the right thing to do and it’s no wonder that so many families are stressed to new heights. No matter how you shake it, all our busyness and our frenetic paces are keeping us from connecting with the people who are closest to us.
Throughout the years our family has had a number of conversations about maintaining our connectedness. Here’s what we try to do. Give the ideas you like a try.
- Unanswered Phones: Rochelle and I do not answer our cell phones from numbers we don’t know. I realize that sounds harsh, but if I don’t know you personally, why should I allow you to interrupt me, my family and what I’m doing? If it’s business related, you can call me at the office, during business hours. If it’s important, leave a message and we’ll get back to you. If it’s an emergency, call 911! We check our messages routinely, but don’t think, if I’m playing with or reading to my kids that I’m going to stop to talk to you. Just because someone else has a minute to talk doesn’t mean I do.
- Off at 8! At 8:00 pm each night we get off Facebook, Twitter, e-mail and other electronics. The kids are in bed and this is our time. As Dr. Hallowell points out, the number one intimacy problem in America is not ED, it’s couples who don’t have time for each other. After 8, we’re talking, watching a DVR’d show, playing Wii or just taking care of home business. In a busy world, if you don’t systematize time it won’t happen.
- Protected Time. As a minister, I work on Sundays. I’m up at 5:00 am and exhausted by 2:00 pm. That means Sunday is not really a day for family. Therefore, our family protects Saturday with force. That’s our ONE day a week to be together. It’s rare for us not to be together all day every Saturday. Some people who think they need me don’t like this. I don’t care! This is our protected time.
- Friday Breakfast. Each Friday morning I take my oldest daughter to breakfast (the younger will go when she begins 5-day school). Many Fridays are uneventful, but this time exist for her to talk to me about things that concern her. We don’t have to schedule a big “sit down and talk,” when something happens in the family or at school. The time is built in, the agenda is her’s and it works. At least twice a month my daughter shares with me what’s going on inside her; often these are things she hadn’t talked about before. This is a time for greasy food and connection; to let her know that she will have special and specific time with her dad each week.
These are just a few ideas. And, of course, life being what it is, things adjust and change, but Rochelle and I are trying to be intentional about our family life and remembering that our first call to leadership and ministry is in our home.
What works for you? What are you doing to stay connected to your family and keep first things first?