Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Days are Long but the Years are Short (Feb/March Niche article)

“Mom, can you play Apples to Apples with me?”

“Mom, I can’t find my other snow boot!”

“Mom, I was heading towards that chair and he jumped ahead and got it first and he KNEW I was going to sit there.”

“Mom, will you read me a story.”

“Mom, will you help me reach the paints?”

“Mom, my finger hurts.”

Does any of this sound familiar? These are all things that I heard today. How many times a day are we interrupted by our children? Usually more often than we bother to count. However, even though our children often interrupt us, we should not view our children as interruptions. Spending time with our children, whether it is to teach, correct, or just to develop a closer relationship with them, is so much more important than all the other things that may seem huge to us on a daily basis.

I certainly do not mean that we need to be a slave to our children’s whims and wishes. The children’s desires, activities and school work need to revolve around what is best for the parents’ schedule and not the other way around. The parents are the center of the family. The children are welcome additions but a family is not a democracy. God placed the parents to be in charge of the family unit, though of course God is ultimately in control.

Sometimes we have to tell a child, “I can’t read to you right now because it is time to start supper” or “I am sorry you can’t find your boot. I don’t have time to help you look for it right now so you will need to find it yourself. Next time put it back where it goes and it won’t be so hard to find it.” (Of course, if the dog is probably the one who ran off with it, the last sentence can be omitted.)

However, far to often I think we brush aside our children for far less important things. You will never hear the moms of grown children do you hear say, “If only I had kept a spotless house, had a huge garden and made gourmet meals every evening!” Instead I have heard older moms lamenting not spending more time with their children during their growing up years.

If the computer, the phone, television and even much more noble activities, like housework and church activities, are causing us to spend very little time truly interacting with our children, then it is probably time to do some praying and rethinking of how we spend our time.

By “spending time with your children,” I do not necessarily mean that it will work out to sit down and play a game or read to each child every day. It is fun and special to do those things whenever possible, but with all the other demands on our time (such as making time for our spouse, homeschooling, laundry, cleaning, and cooking) it's just not always possible. Though children should be a priority over household tasks, those things do still have to be done.

However, we need to make the most of each moment. When one of my children come to me with a problem, however large or small, I need to take the time to truly listen, to make eye contact with them and to respond in a loving manner. When two of the children are having a disagreement, I need to take the time to help them work through it in a Christ honoring manner. When a child needs my help briefly, I should take as much time as possible to help them.

Another thing I try to do is to have my children work along side of me instead of sending them to the other side of the house to do a chore. Obviously, this is not always practical, especially as they get older and can do more to help around the house on their own. However, when possible, I have my helper and me work together.

Simple gestures like a friendly, “Good morning!” or an “I love you” or a pat on the arm as they walk by or a “How is your day going?” will mean the world to a child. On a side note, it is much more pleasant for a child to spend the day with a cheerful, content mom than it is to spend the day with a grumpy or distracted mom.

I feel that I would be remiss if I did not mention that, as precious as it is to spend time with our children, the Lord and our husband need to be the two priorities over our children. We will be much better moms if we spend time daily in God’s Word and prayer. We will also be doing our children a great disservice if we do not make our marriage a top priority. Children who grow up in a home with constant tension between Mom and Dad will have a much harder time in life. They will feel more insecure and they will have a difficult time having a Godly marriage if it was not demonstrated for them while they were growing up. Though I try hard to spend time daily with my children, they know that when I am reading the Bible and praying or spending time with their Dad, it had better be pretty serious for them to interrupt me.

I am sure most of you have heard the quote from the title of my article. “The days are long but the years are short.“ Any woman who has been a mom any length of time at all knows that, even though the individual days may seem very long, the years fly by. My oldest child will be graduating from high school in a few short months. Wasn’t it just “yesterday” that he was a tiny, four pound, premature, long awaited, much prayed for baby boy? To say that the years have flown by is an understatement.

While writing this article, I have been interrupted three times. Once was to deal with a disagreement between two of my children. It was tempting to ignore it but I could tell they were not going to work it out on their own and parental involvement was needed. The second time I was interrupted was to talk to a son about something near and dear to his heart. I nearly missed that opportunity by being tempted to brush him off and telling him I was writing an article right now. The third time was for a more practical manner when one of the children needed to know where something was located.

Trust me, as I write this article, I am talking to myself as much, or even more, than I am talking to you. Making a conscious effort to spend time with our children is something most busy homeschooling moms need to make a daily effort to practice. May God bless you as you enjoy these “long“ days and “short“ years.