I am big into relationships. I once read the term "Save the relationship" from a lady who I highly revere. And then reading early on in my motherhood I read several books by Linda Eyre and Leo Buscaglia. I instantly was drawn to the prinicple that we need to put relationships first in our lives. When first deciding whether to homeschool or not, the idea hit me that by doing so our family would draw closer together. Of course, homeschooling is not the answer for all families. In fact for some, homeschooling may have the opposite affect! No matter our situations, it is important that we prioritize our time so that relationships can be top on the list.
Value our Time
Charles Darwin has been known to say, "A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life." I'm still stuck on the idea that time is the one commodity in life we can't "earn back." This doesn't mean we run frantically from moment to moment trying to fill every second with hurried purpose. Busyness does not mean successful. It is amazing to me how Jesus fulfilled the greater part of his mission in a few short years, and yet he was not in a frenzy. It's just the opposite for Him in fact. When I read the passages of His life I see each moment about the relationship between Him and those he served. What better example can we follow?
About a year or so ago I read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. In brief, he was a college professor who received news that he only had something like six months to live. And so he used that time to write his "last lecture." His words taught me a lot about time. Pausch said this, "Time is all you have. And you may find one day that you have less than you think." What would you do with only six months left to live? I, for one, would want to strengthen my relationships. Why not do so now?
It's Your Choice
Another woman I've chosen to learn from is Dr. Laura Schlessinger. She taught me this, "We have two opportunities for a quality parent-child relationship, the first one we were born into, the second one we chose!" Oftentimes we say or hear how frustrated we are with one particular chlid (or multiple all at once). I remember years ago having a party at my house. I had two or three very small children at the time. It must have been the first day of Spring break for the schools or something because one mom walked in and said, "Oh! It's only the first day and they're already driving me crazy!" I was sad at that thought. Believe me, I've had days when I've wanted more than a couple of hours of peace, but we must remember that we CHOSE this relationship. If we chose to have the relationships (whether it be with husbands, children, etc.) then we still have the choice to make that relationship all we need or want it to be. Some relationships are more of a struggle than others, true, but all relationships are important.
Say NO to Overscheduling
I have five children. With each child in only one activity at a time that is still 5-10 activities outside of the home that we need to drive to, wait for and participate in. Add church activities on top of that and we now have 5 more activities to attend each week. Add school functions, social gatherings, lessons, work parties, etc...etc... and we suddenly find ourselves saying, "Where has all the time gone?" It's so easy to say, "Oh, it's just once a month." Those 'once a months' suddenly add up!
In Einstein Didn't Use Flashcards, Pasek & Golinkoff stated, that "children are just passing through our lives. They come into this world as unique persons who require from us both nuturing and enjoyment. Parents are not omnipotent. At best, they are wise partners accompanying their children through the labrynth of development. " How do we nurture our children if we're constantly rushing them from one activity to another? There are those precious 10 minutes here and there in the car, but we need to be sure this is not the only time we're giving them our undivided attention. We need to especially watchful as our older kids get naturally get involved in more things. It's then the younger siblings we need to protect making sure they are getting the same time at home as our older children did.
Time for the Greatest Commandment
Above all, to help our earthly relationships more enriching, we must make time for strengthening our relationship with the Lord. "Thou shalt love the Lord they God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and wil all they mind (Matt. 22:37)." Set aside ample time daily to strengthen this single most important relationship.
Relationships are tricky! Some more than others. I'm finding that when I finally have a solid relationship with one child, another relationship starts to struggle. I'm personally trying to make a conscious effort to leave more time for building those strong relationships (especially with my girls right now). From now on I'm going to add relationships to my schedule, time with each child. It may not be like "1:00 play legos with Joel." It will be more open so that I can see and feel what each child may need. If I'm rushing, I'm not being attentive to their needs . . . or my own. We all need to take time for our relationships.