I can still remember the feeling of his small hand in mine, his hesitancy at stepping into the room, and his large hazel eyes that looked up into mine. It was his first day of kindergarten. I reassured him that it was going to be ok, and, it was. Seven years later, we found ourselves in a similar situation, yet now, his hand didn’t reach for mine, and with his height, he looked me straight in the eye. I saw his hesitancy in his gaze, and I reassured him once again that it was going to be ok. With a deep breath, he turned and joined the mass of students heading into the middle school. As I watched him walk away, I couldn’t help but wonder how we were at this point in life already and why must kids grow up so fast? As I slipped into my car, I thought about the twelve plus years I’ve been blessed to be his mom, and I thought about how much I’ve poured into his life.
We do that as mamas, don’t we? We spend countless hours feeding, bathing, snuggling, reading, cleaning, nursing, managing, encouraging, transporting, and disciplining; the list could go on and on. We want our kids to grow up to be adults who are responsible, independent, and who do something wonderful with their lives. To ensure that this happens, we throw ourselves completely into the raising of them. Would you not agree? But, let me ask you something. When it comes to raising our families, are we focusing our time and energy on the things that really matter? Are we spending our days intentionally pouring into our kids in ways that will make a positive, lasting and eternal impact? Are we mothering with purpose?
To do something with purpose means to do it with clear intent. It’s identifying an end goal and developing a plan to achieve that goal. When it comes to raising our kids, it’s taking steps that are going to bring the best out of our kids and help them grow into the people that God created them to be.
Take a moment and think about your own family. What is most important to you when it comes to raising your family? What hopes and dreams do you have for your kids? What do you want your kids to learn from you? What type of life do you want them to have? What type of people do you want them to be? What is most important to you as you raise your family, and how can you be purposeful as you do it?
I think we have to start by taking a look at how we spend our time. Do you spend the majority of your day checking things off of your to-do-list, rushing everyone from one activity to the next, or scrolling through social media? Or, do you approach each day with the goal of making the most of each moment with your kids?
Spending time with our kids is extremely important. It helps our kids feel valued, builds positive self-esteem, and strengthens the emotional bond we have with them. Spending time together also encourages communication, can positively impact academic performance and behavior, and can teach our kids how to positively interact with others. As we spend time together as a family, our kids are learning that they are important to us and that family is to be treasured.
Now, sometimes moms, especially working moms, feel guilty about not spending a significant amount of time with their children throughout the week. Research suggests however, that it isn’t necessarily the quantity of time you give your child, but the quality of time. That quality time does not have to be a big, elaborate, expensive activity that you plan. The study suggests that real family bonding was often found in the quiet, in-between moments of family life, and that everyday activities (like household chores or running errands) could give families quality moments and unplanned, unstructured times of social interaction that are important in building relationships. Our kids value those ordinary moments found in each day often more than the scheduled “fun” events we plan. My oldest will tell you that one thing he really enjoys is simply sitting down and talking together at the end of the day. Quality time is important.
It’s also important to remember that quality time also means giving each of our kids some one-one-one, undivided attention. Our kids need time when they have our complete attention. This means that we remove all distractions that would keep us from completely focusing on our child. No tv running in the background, no cell phone reminding you that you have a text message, no laundry folding . . . no distractions. In her book, Purposeful Parenting, Jean Barnes shares that one-one-one time with your child gives you an opportunity to really listen to one another, to connect, and to simply delight in one another. Too often, we allow the distractions that come with living life keep us from simply delighting in our children. I have to admit that I feel like it was so much easier to delight in my kids when they were small. Not that I can’t do that now, but life moved at a slower pace and seemed a bit simpler in some ways. I took great delight in watching them meet different milestones, hearing the funny things they would say, and watching them slowly fall asleep in my arms. Have you had moments like that? Do you take the time to take great delight in your children? Are you making the most of the time you have with your kids right now?
Dr. Kevin Leman, a well known psychologist poses this question: “Why not spend your hours where they can make the most difference in the long haul?” Is scrolling through Facebook going to make the most difference in the long haul? Is finishing the sink full of dishes right now going to make the most difference in the long haul? Is keeping a clean house going to make the most difference in the long haul? What about going for a walk with your child, reading one more book, playing a game, or just sitting down to talk? What will make the most difference in the long haul? Think carefully about how are you choosing to spend your time, and ask yourself if your choices are moving your family in the direction that you feel God has for you.