It is true. Life is busy when you’re raising children. The struggle for balance and the emotional pull to make the most of every moment is constant. We moms have to be practical and creative as we work our way through our days tending to our many different responsibilities, AND the developing souls of our little charges. What we do needs to be efficient. It also needs to be significant. Because at the end of the day, what we want most of all, practically speaking, is to keep our children alive and help them know Jesus better.
To this end, here are two practical things we’ve come up with to make our lives a little more neat and tidy so we have time to be a lot more purposeful.
Good morning! Good night!
We all say it…every single day.
When we see each other for the first time in the morning, we are training our children to smile and say “Good morning! I’m glad to see you!” It doesn’t have to be anything grand, just sweet and simple, with eye contact. It sets a good tone when we all begin our interactions for that day with a dose of intentional kindness.
Then at the end of the day, when we see each other for the last time before sleep, we are training our children to make eye contact, smile, and say, “Good night! God bless you all night long!” Again, it’s nothing fancy, just a sweet and simple acknowledgement of each other. There’s something very peaceful and helpful about ending our day with that little bit of kindness
Family is on purpose. God’s design for family is meant to represent Him to the next generation. The blessing of family is that you always belong. You fit together. You complete each other. To help develop this attitude in our children, we take time to teach them to take time for each other.
Each child has one…right by the back door.
This idea came to us when our children were all still in diapers. The reality we were dealing with at the time was that our little ones were ages 3, 2, & new and were so busy and so easily distracted, rolling, crawling, and waddling off in all directions at once. That’s not a bad thing at all, because that’s exactly how God made them to be at that adorable age. But when Mommy is trying to get everybody out the door for something, such adorableness is just not helpful. After I’d worked so carefully to get all of that adorableness “just so,” it literally took less than a second for them to end up somewhere else in the house with some part of them untied, undressed, unhappy, and undone. Ugh! And then Mommy would come undone. Bless all our hearts!
To contain our curious little herd and remedy the potential stress, we gave each child their very own special “spot” on the floor near the back door. We assigned the spots all in a row, close enough to keep everyone corralled but far enough apart to prevent space invasion. We set out books or small bins of toys to keep each child busy while he or she waited for the others. One by one, the children would arrive at their ready spots and go to reading or building blocks. In just a few neat and tidy minutes, we were all lined up and heading out the door! The difference was like night and day. It was awesome! Turns out all we needed was a little structure.
For those of you needing to know, here’s the breakdown…
I’d get the baby ready to go, strap her into her infant carrier, and set the carrier right down on her ready spot. Then I’d get the crawler ready to go and buckle her into the exersaucer, which I already had sitting on her ready spot. Then I’d get the waddling wanderer ready to go and buckle him into the portable highchair, which I already had sitting on his ready spot. Each child stayed put and looked at books and played with toys while I finished up with the others, unplugged the iron and such, turned off lights, got my purse, etc. After just a few minutes, with everything said and done, I’d unbuckle my older two, pick up the baby carrier, and shuffle my little troop out the door. Nobody was lost and mom hadn’t lost it! Ready spots were a huge win!
Our children are older now, 10, 9, & 7, and we still use those wonderful ready spots! The books and toys have changed, but the spots and the routine are still same. It’s a beautiful thing.
Ok, so, for those of you wanting to know, here are the ready spot rules:
1. Prior to time of departure, “Whatever you need for when we leave or where we’re going, go put it on your ready spot.” This could be backpacks and lunches, soccer stuff and water bottles, bibles and offerings…you get the idea.
2. “No ballgames or rough housing on the ready spots.” Just no. It would completely defeat the purpose.
3. “Non-messy activities only!” Obviously!
4. For nonessential items, “Get it before you get to your ready spot. Period.” Being on your ready spot means you are ready to go. No running off to get one more thing that you just thought of that really, you could live without. Again, it defeats the purpose.
5. “Enjoy each other!” Visit, play with toys together, talk about the books you’re reading, make a memory.
The ready spots also help our children see how God wants us to be “always ready” to follow Him wherever He leads us. He wants us to appreciate the time of preparation, enjoy the time of waiting, and then move quickly when He says “Go!”
Practically speaking, holiness is taught in the home.
The most random moments of parenting become the most real moments of purpose when we teach our children to see the extraordinary in the ordinary.
*How are you creating purpose in the midst of the “ordinary”? Please share your thoughts and comments below!