We were intentional about moving back home to be by our family and raise our kids...we described it as choosing a location over a vocation (we literally moved back with no job...we were young-ish and had a dream). We've tried to be intentional as well about how we raise our kids. After 20 years of being involved in youth ministry having countless conversations with yutes and parents, we know that kids won't accidentally grow up with healthy habits in their lives and we also know that we live in a broken world that is doing everything it can to create unhealthy habits in them (i.e...media that tells my daughters they aren't right unless they look a certain way, or little league sports that tell my sons they aren't valuable unless they perform well...or peer pressure, selfish desires and more...) so even if we create the healthiest environment we can in our home, there is still a chance one day that they won't grow up to "follow the yellow brick road." (sorry to get that song stuck in your head). :D
Because of our life stage, we interact with a ton of peeps who are navigating the same rat maze we are in; parents (married and single) who are working hard, who literally have minutes to go from work to shuttling their kids to practice/activities (if they don't have carpool to help), only to rush home and make dinner (and by "make" I mean, pick up Subway), scarf down said "made dinner" only to go back and pick up kids and their friends from previous drop-offs, get home, make lunches for the next day (lunches are made typically in September...Oct-June is mostly hot lunch), do bedtime routines (and by routine I mean...ensuing kid madness of a scene that is equivalent to herding cats in an open field with no fences) and now it's 9:24pm...and parents are asked to "connect".
I have been having so many conversations lately with parents who are becoming increasingly disconnected with their spouses and rising tensions with their kids...and we wonder why.
I guess I'm writing this to say...What if there was another way?! What if in the midst of the crazy, we figure out ways to stay connected with our spouses and/or kids...because here's the deal, the two things our kids really want from us might be shocking!!
Last summer I read an interview of Ellen Galinsky, President of Families and Work Institute and author of "Ask the Children." who was reporting on interviews she had with over 1000 children (ages 8-18)...when kids were asked what they wanted most from their parents, the kids said (drum-roll please)...For parents to be;
1. Less Stressed
2. Less Tired
Wow...kids want their parents to be less stressed and less tired. Is there space in your life to become less stressed and less tired? How can you create that space?
Maybe instead of living a life we hoped never to create, we could take a collective deep breath, talk with our kids and/or spouses, have a family game night, go for a walk together, play at the park, laugh together...and maybe learn to start saying "No." Because as the saying goes, the more you say yes to things (activities, sports, committees, etc...) the more you are actually saying no to the things that matter most (family time, dinners around a table, etc...).
Do you have a date with your spouse on the calendar this week? This month? When is your next family vacation planned? (I don't mean tropical vacation...maybe just a drive in the car with your family to the beach?) or maybe even tonight...SKIP PRACTICE, and take a walk or bike ride and get some ice cream together. Don't worry, missing one practice or rehearsal isn't going to take away the full-ride scholarship you so long for your child to receive nor will it lead to her rejection of entrance to Julliard.
Slow down and stop the crazy!