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Real Parents On: Family Time

Does your life move so fast you feel like if you blink you'll miss it? Or maybe your family is moving in a million different directions and it feels impossible to slow them down and just spend time together? Well you're not alone. Check out how our fantastic panel of parents handle spending time with their families. Maybe you'll get some ideas...or at least will realize that we're all in this together.

Elizabeth says: Family of Six Divides & Conquers...But Only Until Dinner Time

"Even as a stay-at-home mother, there just never seems to be enough of time. It is so elusive. Time is needed for working, shopping, eating, sleeping, praying . . . even the most mundane tasks take away chunks of the precious commodity. I often find that either my husband is spending time with the kids or I am, because of the ages of our children and to-do lists. Because of our two-year old son, true family time is often hard to come by, since his abilities, attention span, and personality do not allow for it. We usually have to divide and conquer at this stage. My husband is the One-Man Wonder Gym, so when the kids spend time with him it is often physical—climbing, wrestling, tickle fights, etc. Each person in our family has a “food” name and is chosen into the fray by identifying what someone is “hungry” for. For example, we have Daddy-donuts, Mommy-muffins, Catey-Cakes, and Matts-potatoes—even our youngest gets in on the names and tousling. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I’m the cuddler. I like calm moments where I can either curl-up with one, two, or even three of my kiddos and watch TV, read books, or put together puzzles. My idea of crazy time involves turning on music and dancing around the living room with the kids. The one true place where we spend time together as a complete family is around the dinner table. We sit around the table, take turns praying to God, and then we share events from our day—it’s a treasured time of my day, and each day it reminds me of how blessed I truly am."

Jennifer T. says: Family Fun Night

"It’s funny how certain people impact your life, and at the time, you may not even know it.  When I was practicing law, I worked for a fellow that was very close to his kids, they were teens.  I asked his secretary if she knew his secret.  She said he is very “intentional” about spending time with them.  I filed that in the back of my mind, where it stewed for a couple of years.

When my youngest child turned four, my husband and I realized that we needed to inject a little intentionality into our own lives.  My husband works long hours and many nights gets home at bed time.  In response, we decreed weekly “Family Fun Night”.  Every Friday is FFN.  Each week a different member of the family gets to be the person of honor.  I try to make a fun and simple meal; last week it was make your own tortilla shell pizza.  Dessert is a must.  We play dinner cards at the table.  Afterward, the family member of the week gets to pick an activity for the whole family to do together.  My personal fave is when my daughter chooses the Angelina Ballerina game.  I just get a hoot out of watching my husband plie, arabesque and grand jete around the kitchen.  He’s a good sport."

Kelly W. says: Reclaiming the Sabbath

"Our family loves time together, but Roger's long hours and everyone's mid-week events make it almost impossible during the week to hang out together.  So we focus on Sundays.  About a year ago we were experiencing big burn-out as a fam. We realized that every single day was so busy, that we didn't actually have a REAL Sabbath.  So we switched to attending the Saturday night service at church and made Sundays pretty much off-limits to everything.  The change has been WONDERFUL. It's a gift to have one whole day a week to spend with each other and we all love it.  We sleep in late, read the newspaper in our jammies, make waffles, play in our yard, go biking, geocaching, shopping, or whatever strikes our fancy, then cook dinner on the grill and maybe wrap the day up with a family movie.  It's our favorite day of the week :-)"

Madison says Busy Single Mom Seeks Family Time Balance

"So, when I look at family time, for me, I find it ridiculously complicated. I really do value family time and want Ashton to be able to grow up close with all of his family, whether it's his father and me, his aunts and uncles, or his grandparents. With the situation between me and his father, I find it a bit complicated getting actual family time in and not making it too confusing for him. The current status of his father and I are that we get along, so I really do love being able to go out to the zoo or something as the three of us so he can see us all getting along. It's really important to me that as Ashton grows up with me and his dad not together to still know that we are both there, both loving him, and both want to be able to communicate how things are happening and what is going on in his life. I also really want Ashton to be able to be close to his aunts, uncles, grandparents and future cousins. Coming from the family of 8, my cousins always had a lot of cousins while we did not. I really wish things could have been different from that but all I can do now is try hard for Ashton to have a different relationship with his more "extended" family. So basically, when I look at family time, i think it really is important; not only with our close small sort of family of three, but also with my whole family and his father's family as well."

Kelly H. says: Quality vs. Quantity

"Family time is probably the most difficult thing for our family to create...or I guess I should say “quality” family time.  As a ministry family, we have many things that take us away from the home every week.  Church services, bibles studies, youth group, events, meetings...you name it!  So we frequently spend time together “doing” those things, but when it comes to uninterrupted time at home it can be a challenge sometimes.  So we have to just do the best we can on a weekly basis and try to make the most of the time we do have together.

Each week, my husband takes our oldest daughter (almost 5 yrs. old) to breakfast every Saturday morning, unless he has an early meeting.  She looks forward to those times with Daddy every week.  (My youngest and I are usually still sleeping while they’re eating breakfast!)  She really enjoys having Daddy all to herself since he regularly has meetings during the week that keep him late at church.  I think she gets bored hanging out with Mommy all week! Also, as a minister, he gets one day off during the week because Sundays are considered a working day for us.  So we try to spend at least that morning together and usually get to go out for lunch before the rest of the day gets busy.  During the weeks that we don’t have many events, we either try to do something fun at home or go out for ice cream  or to the park when it’s warm.  The girls LOVE it when we put on some music and let them dance and go wild in the living room!  The oldest dances around while the youngest tries to copy her big sister!  No matter how tired we are that day, we can sit and watch our girls and laugh.  And the best part of our week this time of year, is after the girls have gone to bed and hubby and I sit on the deck with the fire pit going.   Sometimes we talk, sometimes we just sit there and enjoy the silence and each other’s company.  It may not always be HOW MUCH time you have as a family, but it’s how you spend that time together."

Jen M. (that's me!), mom of a deliciously cute munchkin baby, and wife of 4 1/2 years. Read my bio below. Contractual Agreement...Well Not Quite, But Close

"As a full-time working mom, married to a man who does shift work and is frequently required to put in lots of overtime during the spring and summer seasons, family time is absolutely impossible to schedule. While my schedule is fairly consistent, Sean may work one day at 4 a.m. until 2 or 3 p.m. and the next at 3 p.m. until midnight, be off for a day or two and then work 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. The schedules never repeat themselves from week to week either. So you can imagine the challenges of not only being in the same place at the same time, but being awake and conscious for that time.

Early on in our marriage, Sean and I set up a rule: whenever we were both going to be home together, especially during his busy work season, we never plan to do something with others or separately. So if I know he's going to be home on a Friday night and I'm invited to a ladies Pampered Chef party or something, I will decline the invitation. The only exception to that rule is my women's prayer group and his men's Bible study breakfast. Other than that, it's a strict rule and we don't break it unless there's an event that we'd both like to do more than hang out alone as a family. And that very rarely happens. As far as what we do together, it usually involves grabbing dinner to give us both a break and just be able to enjoy time together with each other and the baby. When it was just the two of us, we enjoyed kayaking, a night at the driving range, fairs and festivals, and just hanging out at home, curled up watching a movie (well, HE watched a movie and I fell asleep during the opening credits."

Life, Interrupted

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