A Painful Life Lesson from a Been There Momma
Last week we went on a short vacation to Myrtle Beach, primarily because it was cheap. The reason our vacation was so inexpensive is because we had to dedicate two hours to listen to a timeshare presentation. For the price we paid for the vacation, it was a small sacrifice. I have attended time share presentations before, and I do have to say this one was different. They had us gather in a room before they sent us off with our salesperson, and asked each of us why we liked to take vacations. Our group was about thirty people, and as I sat and listened to their responses, I couldn’t help but be sad because of what became the number one answer.
The number one answer was… “Quality time with family.” I don’t know why this answer struck me as odd, but it did.
Here are some of their reasons. Some said they couldn’t disconnect when they were home, or they could find a million other things to do at home if they weren’t working. Another person shared their reason was because the kids are so busy with sports and school events it is the only time they can all be in the same place for a week. I wanted to jump out of my seat and say, “STOP THE MADNESS!”
As a wife and parent who has been where many of these families are at, I want to encourage you as a new school year begins to re-evaluate your priorities. Don’t allow sports schedules or school events to suck up every minute of your family time. Yes, our kids love to be involved in things, and it is great when they are, but they don’t have to be in every activity or every sport available. I hate to be the one to break the bad news to you, but chances are your child is not going to be an Olympian. There is a better chance that someday they will be a mom or dad, and they need to learn from you how to set priorities. I wish I could say I did a good job with this, but I didn’t. I’m sharing my experience because I want people to learn from my mistakes.
I had an only child and found myself out four of every five school nights because of her involvement with sports. She was up early and out the door to attend practices, and up late at night trying to complete her homework for the next day. It was a vicious cycle. Forget ever having a family dinner on a school night because between practices, games and other events it was impossible. I have friends who had five or more children in school at one time, and they would complain how insane their life was. I could totally agree with them because I knew how ridiculous my life was with just one child.
As parents we have to set boundaries and priorities and our kids need to see it. They need to know they are our priority, and quality time with our family needs to be embedded in every day. Don’t settle for a week or two weeks of vacation a year. The risk is too great. Kids grow up way to fast and you will miss out on so much by believing that if your child isn’t involved in some organized extracurricular activity or sport every day, that you have failed as a parent. This is what the world would love for you to believe, but it isn’t true. I have never heard a child complain because they felt their parents spent too much time just being with them. I used to think my child needed me so much when she was little, and she did, but I realized she needed me even more when she would come home from middle school and high school and needed to debrief after her busy day.
I understand the word “No” can be a very frustrating word to any child at any age, but it can also be very empowering, too! I will never forget when my daughter was asked to do another year for travel team and I said, ‘No”. She came and thanked me because she didn’t want to do it, but didn’t want to disappoint her teammates. Sometimes, we need to say ‘No” for them!
Why do people have to wait a year to go on vacation in order to have quality time? Is a week of vacation really quality time, anyway? Can people really pack everything into one week of vacation and expect it to be the fulfillment of their annual expectations for quality time with their spouse, children, family and friends? Sounds like a setup for failure to me.
Quality time should be a greater investment than just a week of vacation. It should be part of every day. I know there are people who are thinking “We don’t have an hour every day”, but let me ask you this, how long is your television on at night and how long do you spend looking at Facebook?
Technology is great, but not when it takes over your life. Our kids are watching us, and when we are so engrossed in our phones that we completely miss out on face to face conversations, it is time to set the phones aside for a while. We need to invest in our families on a daily basis. Likewise, we can’t allow iPhones, iPads or television to become our kid’s babysitters when that is a responsibility given to us as parents.
How will our children learn how important it is to spend quality time with God on a daily basis, if we aren’t spending quality time with Him or them? How will they learn to keep their priorities and boundaries in check if we don’t?
This school year can be different and you don’t have to be the dog chasing your tail. If I had the opportunity to do it over I would opt for spending quality time with my daughter every day rather than allowing the influence and pressure of the outside world to rob our family of precious time together.
Vacations are a wonderful thing and I love going on vacation with my family, but I want my quality time with them to be more than a week of vacation. I want it every day. Even if is only an hour a day, that is three hundred and sixty-five hours a year and that is a whole lot better than forty hours.
My challenge to you is this, what will you do to intentionally spend quality time every day with your kids?
Honor God and your family and you will be rich in ways you can’t begin to comprehend.