The paper plates all worn out from the dinner well enjoyed. The farm table sticky. The new Brussels sprout recipe loved by me but rejected by everyone else. Have mercy. The little sister aggravated to tears by the big sisters. The husband slightly overwhelmed by the female drama.
It’s what I call home. A snapshot from one of our weekly Monday night dinners.
As Mom, I comfort that one whose feelings got hurt while scolding the other two. We navigate lessons in kindness and the power of words and why we must watch the way we treat each other.
A boy’s name is mentioned. This is a kind boy. A boy who loves Jesus and says “yes ma’am” in his deep 20-year-old voice. I like respectful boys. My daughter, the same age, smiles at the mention of him. My husband and I notice. In a matter of minutes we’re all laughing together.
This beautifully messy band of people I call my own need time together. Space to connect and process. Conversational threads are what make up the fabric of relationships. We must take time. Make time. To talk.
And today, my sweet friends and partners in ministry, Glynnis Whitwer and Karen Ehman are popping in to give practical ways to find this time and maximize it. Take it away, friends…
As moms of busy children, we know how hard it is to carve out time with family. But in most homes, it is possible to set aside time every week to strengthen your family unity, to turn your hearts toward God, and to have fun in the process.
The key is commitment, consistency, and a small amount of creativity.
Don’t worry about it being exactly right, and don’t compare your family’s plans with anyone else’s. There’s no perfect day, perfect amount of time, or perfect agenda. Maybe your family only has Saturday mornings, or after church on Sundays, or Tuesday nights.
Grab that time and try to make it non-negotiable.
We think it’s always easier to start simply when trying to establish a habit. So don’t set expectations you can’t continue to meet. A little food, a little conversation, some laughter, and you’ve got a memory in the making.
A few years ago, Glynnis met a pastor’s wife at a small church in Louisiana. This grandma of many was discussing her dinner menu for later that day. The guest list numbered around twenty and included children, grandchildren, and a few friends invited into the fold. Was it someone’s birthday? Or anniversary?
“No,” she answered. “It’s just Sunday dinner. We do this every week. It’s how we keep our family connected.”
What a wonderful practice. A simple dinner. A standing invitation. A reason to reconnect with friends and family after a busy week.
What might this look like in your home? The type of food doesn’t matter as much as making enough to feed a few extra friends who might be invited.
Maybe your special family time is you and your husband . . . or maybe it’s a passel of children and grandkids. No matter the size of the gathering, the fanciness of your table, or the spot on the calendar, establishing time together with people you love is worth the investment.
Here are some ideas you can try as you gather your people:
1. Devotional time
Pick a short passage of the Bible to read together. Depending on the ages of your children, take turns coming up with a few discussion questions. Keep this simple to help make the Bible accessible to every member of your family. Close with a short prayer thanking God for His Word and message to you tonight. Pray also for others.
2. Make-your-own _____ night.
Get the family involved in making dinner. One idea is make-your-own pizza. Using French bread or hoagie rolls as your base, set out an assortment of toppings, pizza sauce, and cheese and let everyone assemble their own creation. You might also try a salad bar, sub sandwiches, or Cincinnati chili (with optional five toppings).
3. Board games
Board games can be expensive, but compare their cost with taking your family out to the movies and you might have a new perspective. Some of our favorites include Ticket to Ride, Apples to Apples, and Imaginiff.
4. Arts and crafts
A craft project stimulates creativity and camaraderie. Paint flower pots, color eggs at Easter, decorate cookies at Christmas, or make pinecone bird feeders using peanut butter.
5. Read out loud.
Pick a book to read through as a family. This is a family tradition your children will appreciate (coming from a woman –Glynnis – whose mother read faithfully to her). Some family-friendly selections include The Trumpet of the Swan, The Secret Garden, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and any of the Chronicles of Narnia series.
6. Family sleepover
When Glynnis’ children were small, they’d spread blankets, sleeping bags, and pillows on the floor of the master bedroom for a sleepover. There was something special about ending the night together . . . sort of like a camping experience without the dirt. Karen’s children developed a “Siblings Night” where her three children piled into one room for a parent-free night of snacks, stories and song.
Thank you, Karen and Glynnis! If you like these ideas, you’ll enjoy their newest book, Everyday Confetti. In this go-to guide, they’ll give you planning suggestions and the motivation needed to make time with family more intentional. They provide creative ideas and menu plans for:
• Special Events
• Everyday Occasions
They’ll also be posting ideas monthly on their blog! Click here to check it out.
And today, I’m giving away 5 copies of Everyday Confetti. For your chance to win, leave a comment below with the one step you’re taking today to keep your family connected.