My mom once told me that her idea of heaven was that every fifteen minutes of the day was scheduled out and the schedule never changed and was never interrupted. To me that sounds like hell. I love excitement, surprise, spontaneity. I love when a friend drops by my house unexpected – and I have no problem dropping whatever plans I have to meet a friend for lunch.
Most of the 29 years I’ve been a parent – my schedule has been dictated to me by coop classes, sports practice, theater practice, music lessons, and the many activities that we as a family chose to over commit ourselves to. This has led to a different type of hell – one of anxiety. I’d have to leave in 5 minutes because my kids can’t be late to XYZ, but I couldn’t find my keys, I only found one shoe, I have no idea where the jackets got thrown when we took them off last, I forgot I was supposed to take something for the potluck (guess I’ll pick up a fruit tray at the store), I’m yelling at the kids, I’m angry at myself for being such a witch to my kids and losing my temper. This is not fun! This is not how life is supposed to be lived. I’m thanking God, once again, He is giving me a do-over. Four kids are grown and gone – and one is just starting – so she’s my do over. I don’t regret the activities my kids went to – they are who they are largely because of them. I do regret my disorganization and my lack of preparation and my attitude because of my lack of these things.
So what am I doing with my do over?
Committing to less. There will come a time that Rose wants to do ballet, or play cricket – but she’s not asking, so I’m not offering. I think twice before I say “yes” to any activity outside of my home. My first ministry is to my family, and everything I say “yes” to will be scrutinized to see how it will affect it.
Creating a family rhythm. Rhythm is different from schedule. Schedules are time oriented, rhythm is a “steady, regular, repeated” pattern. For our family this looks like a lax, flexible schedule. We get up, have meals, and go to bed at approximately the same time each day. We do the same series of events before breakfast, between breakfast and lunch, between lunch and dinner, and between dinner and bed. For example, between breakfast and lunch, we light a candle and say our Bible verse, have story time and circle time, then do art work. But the times are flexible. Sometimes, it is a five minute let’s get this art project over with, and sometimes we revel in the enjoyment of it for forty or forty five minutes. That’s ok. That’s one of the differences between rhythm and schedule. Within my do-over rhythm:
- I’ll give myself time to breath in. Time to read my Bible and journal it, time to pray, time to take a bath by candle light, time to write, time to have lunch with a friend. TIme alone to just be quiet and think.
- I’ll give my child time to breath in. Time to play independently. Quiet time to look at books, color a picture, paint, play with clay, or build with blocks or legos. TIme to lay under the stars. Time to ponder imaginary worlds. Time to be quiet and get lost in her thoughts.
- I’ll give our family time to breath in. Time to eat meals together, saying grace, enjoying each others company. Time for long road trips with Daddy – viewing nature as it rolls by the window. Time to quietly walk through a zoo or museum together contemplating God’s creation.
- I’ll give myself time to breath out. Time to minister to others – both in my family and outside of it. Time for dates with my husband.
- I’ll give my child time to breath out. Time to climb trees, dig a hole in the dirt, and skip rocks in a pond. Time to dance as she recites poetry. Time to arrange all the teddy bears in a row and jump over them. Time to chatter obsessively without being told to be quiet.
- I’ll give our family time to breath out. Time for extended family running and yelling through the house. Time for holiday celebrations. Time for all family members to pull out their instruments and sing and dance together in the front room. Time for local art and music festivals. Time to minister to others as a family unit.
Creating a home rhythm.
- Declutter and simplify our house. I am on my way, but have a long way to go.
- Stop losing things. Make a home for every object, and have every object stay in it’s home unless it comes out to play – then it needs to return home.
- Establish a cleaning schedule. My home is my main place of worship and ministry – I will treat it with the sacredness it deserves.
- Establish a cooking schedule. Honor my family with delicious meals made with love.
I’m still in the process of working out my “do over,” but so far it has proved peaceful.
What do you do to establish peace in your home?