I am a runner. Not a fast runner nor a good runner, but at least I can say I am a runner. I have mapped out several routes near my house. I have 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9, and 11 mile routes that I run depending on how much time I have and how good of condition I am in. In truth, the 2 mile run is no different than the 11 mile run when I am in good shape, other than the fact that the 11 miler is more enjoyable. I am in no shorter breathe after the two miler than I am the 11 miler. My muscles may be a bit more tired but not much. Why is this? A few years ago, while visiting Robin's parents, I decided to run from the place we were staying at in town to their house out in the country. The total distance was about seven miles. I remember how much I was looking forward to the run. We had traveled several days to get there (we live in the DC metro area and they live in KS) and upon arrival we had done a lot of sitting around. The fresh air and running was a treat.
In the beginning I was having a good time. Running, praying and enjoying the scenery; but there was a problem. The run was primarily one long stretch of highway and I was not use to it. I had no landmarkers and no way of knowing where I was at. This through my pace off and I was a bit lost. Somewhere along the line my prayers switched from conversation with God to "PLEASE make this run stop!" I would pray that I could see Robin's parents house as I ran over each hill, but I was continuously disappointed. My muscles were sore and I was tired.
When running my routes at home I have familiar landmarkers. These landmarkers let me know where I am and what I am looking for next. They also help me set my pace. I like to push myself a bit and so my pace changes up depending on where I am at in the run. The routes and landmarkers seem to help my muscle memory know what pace I need to be at.
Family Rhythms This is what family rhythms do in our lives. I am a church planter and church "professional" (not really, but I suppose that's what my job title says). Robin is a full-time nurse. We have three kids and one is an infant. I am not supposing our life is much crazier than anyone else's or that you could not handle ours, but I am proud of how our family does it with relative ease. Breakfast and dinner questions and prayers and our bedtime routine serve as our primary daily rhythms. But we also need weekly, monthly and even seasonal rhythms. These rhythms allow the mental "muscle" memory kick in and keep us enjoying life, rather than panicking and stressing.
Family day One of my favorite days of the week is family day. Family day is our rest day. One of the most important things you can do for your family is rest together. Our Father in Heaven thinks rest is so important that he included it in a list of things that also include "don't murder," "don't steal," and "don't sleep with another's spouse." Seriously. In that same list you will find "don't skip your day of rest." Questions and devotions are nice, but life will quickly dry up if we cannot get away to laugh and play together as a family.
Now when I use the word rest, I am implying what refreshes and renews us. What gives us energy and strength. This is different for different people and for different families. For us this typically means a day at the park, a long walk, rock climbing, a trip to the zoo, or some other simple adventure from spring to fall. It is a bit trickier during the winter but we find other things to do. Play games, watch movies, paint, or go to Chick-fil-a and play on the playground there. The goal of this day is rest and recuperation. I would suggest trying to keep the day the same every week for consistency. Unfortunately for us we have had to switch it up fairly often because of Robin's work schedule.
Oh Yeah! A few weeks ago we headed to the lake to play at the park. As we walked across the street Safari shouts "Oh Yeah! It's family day!!!" We did not tell her but she saw the signs. Mom, dad, Sojo, Kanoa and her were all together and we were heading to the park! She then exclaimed, "This is going to be the best day!"
Why is this?
To be quite honest it is because it is rare that she gets both mom and dad's full and undivided attention for more than an hour at a time. On family day she gets us all day. Yes, it would be nice (I think) if we could be together all day everyday, but that is not possible. It is also not the way that God designed it. We were created to work and produce. Maybe when they get older we will get the luxury of working and producing with our kids, but this is not the case for now. However, we can AND SHOULD set aside a day for our family to rest together.
At the end of the day, Safari let us know that she loves us "to the moon."
Your children love you. You are their heroes. There is no one more cool in their life. There is no greater influence. Take advantage of it.
Practical guidelines Here are a few other practical things that help make family day a great day for us.
- We try not to spend money on family day, at least not too much. We do this almost every week. It could get expensive if we spent a money every week.
- We also keep it simple. The goal is to relax, not stress out. Do not plan too much. Plan one thing and see where that leads you.
- We do not set a timeline. We are not in a hurry and are not worried when we get back. We are not hurrying from one thing to the next.
- We let our children set the pace. On walks if they want to stop and check out the flowers, we stop and check out the flowers. If they want to throw rocks into the lake, we throw rocks into the lake. Robin and I will chat while they do it.
The point of family day is to enjoy one another and celebrate life together.
PLEASE drop a line and share what your family does. Give us some ideas.