Last week I kicked off a series on creating space in our homes for deep connection and meaningful conversations. Laid a little foundation by looking at the way in which Jesus did life with others and how that can translate to our own families. Next we covered two components that can make positive contributions to our gathering. Food and family practices. Including, a great resource for feeding our people while keeping our sanity afloat. Go read about it here if you’re just checking in.
Today we’re tackling two more critical components for meaningful connection in our homes. Time and technology. I come to you, not with all the answers, but with some support and aid. Think of me as your college suite mate, who shows up during finals week, with homemade snacks and some dry shampoo. I’m not able to make your final exams disappear however, I can bring some helpful study tools, pull up a chair, and offer the occasional back rub… and maybe even a new playlist.
First, in order to enjoy meaningful connections in our home, we will need to make actual space in our hectic lives to gather together. This likely will require opting out of other things, letting go of laundry piles, and giving Netflix the night off. Lord help us! If you feel as if you’re getting sucked into the vortex of overachieving at dad gum all-the-things, PLEASE read this post. I wrote it to offer us some help and freedom from the mania.
Also worthy of mentioning, last year I read The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer. It confirmed what I felt bubbling beneath the surface of my own frazzled life. That hurry is killing so much of what we hold dear. It’s robbing us of the things we value most. If you are struggling to reign in the hurry monster, I highly recommend this book.
Hurry is a sociopathic predator loose in our society.John Mark Comer The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry
Step off the crazy train
Friends, stepping out of the parenting rat race will cost us. It will bring LESS stress, exhaustion and worry. Our children may miss out on placing first in whatever, and as a result have an actual free Sunday afternoon to be a kid. But, we will gain some bandwidth along with, family connection, deeper relationships, and a window into our child’s heart that will outlast any awards or medals.
I remember when my kids were little and I had a conversation with a friend who happen to be a specialist in child development. She taught me how the dinner table played a vital role in our child’s development. She explained how family gathering is where kids learn how to communicate, dialogue, treat others, practice self-control, and the list goes on. I had never thought of family mealtime in that way. That conversation forever changed the way I approached our gathering as a family.
God has created us for intimacy and talking with one another provides an avenue for that connection. But, we have to make space for it to happen. Reorienting our schedules for the sake of quality time together. This becomes more and more challenging as our family grows up. Jobs, schedules, sports, friends, and a slew of other good and necessary things begin bossing us around. Mamas, we will need to be strategic, and steadfast. Block out the calendar for a family meal, family time, family forum… whatever terminology fits your vibe.
In the coming weeks, we will get into the nitty gritty mess of how to navigate those moments we are actually sitting and talking with one another.
Second, if we are going to create a culture of conversation in our homes, we will need to wrestle with our technology situation. Listen friends, you are not alone in the screen time battle! Technology is a blessing and a burden that every single one of us encounter on the daily. Sometimes, I just want to break up with technology. (As I sit here with earbuds singing in my ears and fingers typing on my laptop). Seriously, it can be daunting to navigate the expanse of cell phones, screens, tweets, snaps, DMs, notifications, and a world gone viral. Take heart and take a massive breath! Because, we also have help and resources available to us.
For starters, if you’re trying to manage the smartphone sphere with your kids go here for a valuable resource.
Next are some practical ideas for managing family time amidst our technology.
Technology parent hacks
- Be the boss. Put the screens away. Like for real. Just turn off the TV, which may require a couple of weeks of training our littles to occupy themselves in other ways while hanging with the family. Put a kid in charge of phone collection at the start of family time and especially meal time. Let the creatives make a cute little phone collection basket.
- Be real. Share with your family that you too are tempted by the distraction of technology. Maybe even share a personal example of how you are trying to practice healthy tech usage, or failing at it. Side note: when our children have the opportunity to pray for their parents with real struggles, it makes our faith much more effective. Teaching them that following Jesus means we will always need His present work in our lives, makes us and Him more real. This is a good place to practice that together.
- Be fun. Think, less Karen and more Sharon… I truly don’t intend any harm here, just using an analogy. When we are out to dinner as a family, we will make a stack of all our phones in the center of the table… I may or may not have done an obnoxious cheer in public when we win at this. Make it a contest. First person to check their phone does the dishes… for a week! The fun comes when the siblings shout for joy because they just scored a free dish pass. Game: first one to remember to put their screen on the table gets to (fill in the blank).
- Be chill. Let’s practice balance with our boundaries. There will be times when family time organically happens… This is part of our goal by the way. Therefore it may not make sense to all of a sudden be the technology police. Often, our family can have great discussion while phones remain with their owners. This comes with maturity and gives us an opportunity to allow our older kids (and their parents) to take ownership for responsible tech usage during family time.
You Set the Tone
Remember mama, you can set the tone for your family and your home. As parents, we can model what grace, mercy, and kindness looks like from our family table. Even when it’s awkward or met with opposition. Keep pressing in. Create a new normal. Be honest and real about your desire to be for one another in your family circle. Which will involve gathering, talking and listening. AND PRACTICE.
Join me over on the next post, where I share how we can cultivate the actual conversation part of connecting with our people.