Days at the beach, playing in the sand and sunshine. Picnics at the park with friends, everyone talking and laughing after chasing each other until breathless. Late-night campfires with smores and sparklers. Playing soccer after supper until the shadows grow long and the sky turns pink. We are having a wonderful summer!
I must confess that my heart is heavy. Heavy because I see notebooks and pencils on display in every store. Kids sporting new shoes and backpacks holding “first day of school” signs fill my Instagram feed. I don’t want this fun time to end. I don’t want the wonderful quality time with family to become lost in the craziness of school and activities.
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Making Quality Time with Family a Priority with a Busy School Schedule
Nothing fills my bucket more than spending quality time with my family. Yes, the kids try my patience sometimes (ok, a lot!). No, my husband and I don’t always agree on how we should do things. But those are petty annoyances. We are a safe place where we are all loved and cared for. We all accept and look out for each other because that is what family is supposed to do.
I Was Scared I Couldn’t do it All
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them.” (Psalm 127:3-5 NKJV)
This is the verse that went through my head the day I found out I was pregnant with baby number 5. This and about 200 fears! The fear that shouted the loudest was how could I give them the attention they need when there is 5 of them and 1 of me?
My husband was more practical. The first thing out of his mouth was, “we need a bigger vehicle”. LOL
5 beautiful babies in 9 years. Some would call me crazy. Others would call me blessed. I called me worn out!
Of course, as with every new baby added to the family, you adjust your routine, everyone learns to love the latest addition and pitch in where needed. This is how it went with my kids and my heart overflowed with joy.
But let’s be honest. My biggest fear has come true. There is one of me and five of them. How is it even possible to spend enough quality time with them? Oh sure, I discipline, cook, clean, wash clothes, and repeat-every day. But taking care of their needs and taking care of their hearts are two very different responsibilities.
Throw in the normal busyness of school, sports and other activities, friends, games and screen time, and I feel as if my face to face time with them has gone.
Even as homeschoolers, I spend more time explaining verbs and Latin roots than I do listening to their thoughts and ambitions. Just because I see them all day, does not constitute good quality family time.
Why Quality Time with Family is Important to God
First, the importance of taking care of your child’s heart and not just their needs.
Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6 ESV)
Quality time with your child is the only way to do this properly. Disciplining is important, but training your child up in the Lord is more about being an example than setting down a list of rules. It is explaining through daily conversation and actions how God wants us to behave.
Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:2-3 NKJV)
Peter is talking to the leaders of the church in these verses, but I believe it applies to raising children as well. When your children see your good deeds, they will attempt them. When you show them how to love their neighbor or share with them your spiritual journey they will also find these things important. If they see you putting God first in your life, they will understand how and why this is necessary for them as well.
And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 NKJV)
Part of teaching God’s commandments diligently is putting them into casual conversation. Anyone can memorize the Ten Commandments, but unless you are applying them to your life and showing your kids how to do the same, they are pretty much pointless to know.
When your children are in school all day, they are learning their habits from their peers and other adults. Sometimes this is good and sometimes it is not. Teaching the commandments diligently means teaching them often. If your children are away from you all day then you need to make the most of the time you have together to teach them God’s word.
A Family that Prays Together, Stays Together
“A family that prays together stays together” is not just a cute quote. It has a lot of truth to it.
When it is God that binds your relationship, it is impossible to break. It means that you will always have a common bond. A bond so strong that it lasts beyond this temporal world. It means that you will be working toward a similar goal- obedience to Christ.
Of course, you cannot control the decisions your child makes as he matures and simply praying with your child does not guarantee that he will choose to follow Christ all of his days, but it does give your family a good, solid foundation!
Now that we have covered why quality time with family is important in raising our kids and why we need to make it a priority, let’s figure out how to add it to the busyness of our daily lives.
8 Ways to Squeeze Quality Family Time into Your Busy Schedule
- Driving to and from school/activities
- Designated family days/nights
- Plan fun family activities to do at home
- Family game night
- Family outdoor activities
- Chore time
Designate a Family Meal Time
I am a real stickler for family mealtime. It becomes challenging with sports and after school activities, but with a little creative planning, you can insist that everyone comes together for at least one meal a day.
If most evenings are out because of sports, try breakfast. A family breakfast does not have to be pancakes and bacon. You can just as easily connect with your child over a bowl of cheerios in the morning before school. Sitting down with your child and discussing their day or sharing a Bible verse that you read that morning goes a long way.
As homeschoolers, we have the opportunity to sit down to lunch with our kids. Truthfully, I never do because I’m usually cleaning up the morning’s messes. If your child goes to public school, lunch box notes can help you connect with your child from a distance. A verse, quote, or a simple “I hope you have a nice day” can make your child feel loved and important.
Dinner is my favorite family meal. We have a “no kid activities on Sunday” rule which provides us with the opportunity to have a nice meal together after church. Sports make it difficult for us to have family dinners together every day and often we will eat early or late so that we can all be together. My crockpot is my best friend on days like this.
Good Discussion Can Take Place in the Car
This is one of my favorites and is a less obvious one. It hadn’t really occurred to me until my oldest son had reached the requirements to sit in the front seat. He was thrilled. I wasn’t so much because up until that time I had complete control over the radio and often used this time to get my bearings after our the chaotic rush to get everyone out of the door.
He thought it was great to have me all to himself for a bit and after a few days, I realized what a wonderful opportunity this was. He chatters on and on about everything that is important to him. If I were to be honest, I’d have to admit that when he’s talking about the games he plays on the iPad, I kinda zone out, but we have had some great heart discussions. One day, he even brought up the subject of porn and we had a very open talk about it.
Fun Driving Games
Discussions while driving are great but fun driving games can be great too! The interaction can get loud so be prepared!
One of our favorite driving games is “I’m thinking of a ______ that starts with _________” Yes/no questions are asked until the item is identified.
I enjoy a memory alphabet game. One person says an animal that begins with A and then the next person repeats the A animal and adds a B animal. This continues until Z and that lucky person will then list 26 animals. We are generous and help each other out. We have also done this with cities.
We also do a lot of goofy made up jokes and rhymes. As a mom of four boys, this often turns into potty talk, which is promptly shut down, but usually, we have a good time until that point. Starting with a nursery rhyme and then changing the words is the most fun.
“The itsy-bitsy cockroach ran across the floor, Mom saw the cockroach and ran out the door” Ok, so this is not one of my better ones, but you get the idea LOL
Icebreaker Ideas has a great post on fun driving games for both younger and older kids.
Designate Times and Days for Quality Family Time
You have to be deliberate. Quality family time does not just happen. You have to plan for it.
I mentioned earlier that we have a no kid activity rule for Sundays. In our family, Sundays are for church, visiting friends and neighbors, and spending time together.
As you are planning your activities for this school year, keep this in mind. Try to have a family day once or twice a week. You can plan an outdoor activity or a game night. You can hang out at home and have a movie night. The goal is to have the whole family together enjoying each other’s company.
Plan Fun Activities to Do at Home
This one really depends on the ages of your children. Here is a list of some of the things we’ve enjoyed as a family that you might also like.
- Play games
- Dinner and a movie
- Put music on and color/paint together
- Cook something new or unusual together
- 30 minutes and switch- each person chooses something they want to do for 30 minutes. Everyone in the family participates and after 30 minutes the activity switches to the next person. 20 minutes is better for younger kids.
- Build something together
- Read books aloud
- Hide and seek in the dark
Ang at Home has a huge list of fun activities to do at home.
Family Game Night
I love to play games! Family game night is a great way to interact as a family. Again, this will look different for everyone depending on the ages of your kids and the range you have. Sometimes it is better to split up and play two different games. Some games do well across a range of ages and others do not.
Some of our favorites to play with all the kids are:
- Go Fish
- Sequence for Kids
- Connect Four (this is a two-person game so we just go in a circle, the winner playing the next person)
Games we enjoy with the older kids:
- Ticket to Ride
- Dutch Blitz
Family Outdoor Activities
We live in a cold climate and I am not the winter girl many of my neighbors are so I take full advantage of the warmer weather. Family outdoor activities can make for great quality time. Of course, this will depend on what your climate is like and the ages of your kids, but perhaps this list will help you plan some of your own fun days.
- Play ball- whether your sport is soccer, baseball, basketball, football, or golf, don the appropriate shoes and play together as a family.
- Bike ride
- Go to the lake or pool
- Take a walk around the neighborhood
- Go to the zoo
- Pick wildflowers
- Garden together
- Catch Caterpillars and watch them turn into butterflies
Chore-Time and Bed Time
Chores and bedtime are the last two places we can deliberately fit quality family time into our day.
Chores can be overlooked as a way to connect because I want to get the dishes washed, floor swept, and laundry folded as quickly as possible. However, chatting with your child while you are washing dishes and they are clearing the table can not only teach them important life skills but gives you an opportunity to keep communication open with them.
Pausing to make eye contact, asking questions, or adding comments lets them know that what they say is important. Every child should know that they are important.
Bedtime is the last point in your day to spend quality time together as a family. I am the worst at this one. By the time we get through the dinner rush, clean up, baths, etc. I am exhausted!
However, cuddling up on the couch with a child on each side of me and one on my lap, clean and smelling good and warm in their pajamas, I can feel myself relaxing. We read books and talk about our day. We pray together as a family before bed and then under their blankets they go.
After the younger kids are in bed, I try to spend a little bit of time with the older kids. Lately, they want to watch goofy Youtube videos – not my favorite past time, but it helps us connect so I’ve been going with it. Sometimes we talk about their day and others they are content to snuggle up next to me on the couch and watch me work. They look forward to this time and tend to get moody when we skip it several days in a row.
Making Quality Time with Family a Priority During a Busy School Schedule
As you plan your school year keep these tips in mind. Quality time with family does not have to come in week-long vacations. It does not have to be big trips to important places. Your kids simply want your attention. They want to know that you are listening to them and that they have a safe place to learn, grow, and express themselves.
Small pockets of time, full of activities or snuggling on the couch, will bring you closer together, give you the opportunity to teach Biblical truths, and bind you together as a family.
Be sure to also read:
- 13 Powerful Back to School Verses to Pray Over Your Kids
- What Does The Bible Say About Time Management