schedules

How To “Buy Time” With Your Family

I like what author Tim Ferris says, "I think time management as a label encourages people to view each 24-hour period as a slot in which they should pack as much as possible." But what if we want more time? Can we get it? Can we buy it? Walk with me for a minute...

Do you like a good sale? You know, the “take 50 percent off the already low price” kind of a sale! You get quality merchandise at a great value. I guess if I have one complaint about such a sale is that they usually don’t last. If you don’t make time now––while the sale is on––then you will have missed a great opportunity.

We are reminded to take advantage of a good sale or good opportunity in the Bible. It’s true! Ephesians 5:15-17 talks all about it:

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
— Ephesians 5:15-17

Now, you may be inclined to take the words “what the Lord wants you to do” as an instruction to go and take advantage of every great sale at the mall. I would say “A” for effort, but that’s not the part of these verses that talk about a sale.

It’s actually the words, “make the most of every opportunity.” Those six words literally mean “buying the time.” Now, we all know there isn’t a place that sells time, so what does it mean to “buy the time”? The thought goes back centuries and was a metaphor taken from the time when merchants would observe the best time to sell their goods, much like ads for a sale catch our attention today.

A few years ago, I was invited to be a guest speaker on a cruise ship. As it turned out, I was available! When the ship arrived at our first port of call, passengers had the option of staying on the ship or disembarking and walking around town. We opted for the second. Once we stepped off the ship, we were met by at least 50 people selling T-shirts, jewelry, purses and food. I guess you could say they were in the right place at the right time.

Pretty smart to be in that exact location at the very moment when the ship arrived. It’s like they somehow knew. Well, of course they knew, and I’m sure they knew when the next ship was due into the port as well. You see, they were “buying the time”––taking advantage of the opportunity.

Just like a modern sale has a beginning and an end, and just like our cruise had specific arrival and departure times, our time on earth is limited, and we need to be ready to take advantage of the time we have.

To put it bluntly, our children sail in to our lives and then sail out. 

We have a limited time with them, so we must take advantage of the opportunity. We must buy the time we have with them now.

We can’t just sit back and expect all the good deals in life to come to us. We must do the looking and comparing to find the best way to make the most of our time with our family. That will mean saying no to some good opportunities in favor of better opportunities, or the best opportunity.

We can only do this by reaching forward and looking ahead. When we look back and see what we have missed, we may say, “Now that I look back, I should have taken advantage of that opportunity.” Our hindsight is pretty clear. It’s when we look ahead that life can appear to be a little fuzzy; but that’s where our faith comes in.

We ask God for the wisdom necessary to make the most of our time, and we take advantage of every opportunity we have with our family. If we don’t take advantage of our time, it will sail away, it will pass us by. Time does not stop while we try to decide how to best take advantage of it. Time is relentless that way. Taking advantage of each opportunity requires a certain diligence and planning from each one of us.

1. How will you “buy the time” today?
2. What moment will you take advantage of with your family today?

 

How To Spend Uninterrupted Time Together This Week

Monday

As a parent ask and answer this question. “What one thing can I stop doing to have a better family life pace?

Tuesday

Just before bedtime, Read Ephesians 5:15-16 together as a family then pray this prayer. “God, help us to be careful with our time. Give us wisdom as a family to know how to make the best use of our time together. Amen”

Wednesday

Have dinner together and ask this question and let everyone answer, “What where your highs and lows today?”

Thursday

Parents, on a separate piece of paper, write a note to each of your children letting them know how much you love them. Put it in their lunch or on the mirror in the bathroom for them to see.

Friday

Collect each family member’s phone and put them in a drawer. Spend the next hour playing a board game that gets you all talking.

How To Create Space For A Healthy Family Pace

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The picture above doesn't look like much, in fact, it doesn't look like anything at all! Garbled, unreadable, cluttered, stressful it just doesn't make sense. So, why the picture?

The picture is significant because it's this entire post without any space. Without space the message is unclear at best, unreadable at worst. Words on a page need space in order to make sense. We really don't notice when space is there, but when it isn't, we can tell. Without space words loose their meaning and, you can see where I am going with this, without space, people loose their meaning too.

Without space our overscheduled and unchecked lives become garbled, unreadable, cluttered, stressful and it just doesn't make sense.

Creating space around and within our schedule allows for freedom of movement.

How do we create space around our work and family life?

It honestly comes down to healthy boundaries and healthy awareness. At times I schedule appointments and things I need to get done back to back to back. 8:00-9:00 then 9:00-10:00 then 10:00-11:00 and it allows me to accomplish more because the "get it done gene" inside me likes the feeling of accomplishment. This "lack of space" in my day also allows me to be less tolerant toward others (usually toward the ones I love) , and give me a sense of accomplishment buy staying "busy."

We all need to create a little space in our lives. Call it what you want, wiggle room, balance, margin, me time, whatever you call it, "it" won't work unless you practice it. I will be the first to NOT point a finger. The picture here is a screen shot right from my calendar. 

Clearly I'm a work in progress. I will tell you that my schedule rarely looks like this anymore and it's an exception rather than the rule however, occasionally, I fall back in to old habits and bump things right up against each other with no space. And, on occasion, I actually overlap things hoping the "time fairy" will actually give me more time.

So, I'm writing this post for me...and you!

Let's think about creating some space. Let's think about setting a few healthy boundaries or borders or margins or limits so life makes sense!

Creating Some Space For A Healthy Pace

1. Create Space For YOUR Family

Creating space for your family takes one thing into consideration...YOUR family. It's not being selfish it's being real. For instance, a healthy no for your family could be another family’s healthy yes. Space within your family's schedule needs to make sense for your family not the family at church or down the street.

2. Create Space You Can See

A calendar is a great place to see open space. Without a few lines between sentences a paragraph looses meaning and the same is true with family. Without a few moments between appointments or after school activities life becomes a grind filled with hurry not joy. You will often hear the phrase, "happy and healthy." You never hear, "hurried and healthy."

3. Create Space For Face to Face

When you are running from here to there with no margin or space life feels like one big hamster wheel. You are doing a lot of work but to no end. Get some face time with your spouse and talk about ways to loosen up your schedule and create space so life doesn't feel so rushed and non-stop.

Once you create some space, you will notice things begin to change. Please understand, things won’t change overnight; they will change over time. You will most likely experience a bit of negative feedback from your children, whose lives are suddenly altered with "down time." However, after the initial shock has worn off, you will all experience a less rushed and more healthy family life.

The Greatest Family Invention Ever!

The Digital Calendar! Yes, that’s it, that’s the answer. Let me tell you why.

If you want to spend time together as a family you need to get it on the calendar because it won’t happen by accident. Rarely do families drift into uninterrupted time together, it must be intentional. If you have more than one child and they are over the age of 10 then you have a dilemma. “How do I get everyone on the same “calendar” page?” Easy, go digital!

I have seen (and used) everything used from a piece of paper on the refrigerator–one piece of paper for each person in the family–to a digital calendar kept in the cloud and maintained by each family member on his or her own smart phone. The later is the best place for a family calendar!

Here Are 5 Reasons To Put Your Calendar In The Cloud

Reason #1: You Will Never Lose It
I know, never say never, right? There is always that one instance when someone loses his or her calendar online. However, with digital backups, Dropbox and cloud servers the chances that a digital calendar will be lost forever are slim to none. However, if you lose your paper calendar it’s lost for good.

Reason #2: You Can Print It
If you start with a digital calendar, you can always print what you have scheduled if you need to see it on paper or post it on the refrigerator. Any changes that you need to make can be entered on your digital calendar, and then the calendar can be reprinted.

Reason #3: You Can See It All...or Not
We have five individual calendars within one main calendar in our family. We can see each family member’s schedule individually or we can merge them to see everyone’s schedule on one master calendar. Each click of the button can change the view from all kids to just mom and dad. One-button ease of use is huge for managing a family with different schedules.

Reason #4: You Can Change the View
The calendar can be changed so that a single day, a week, a month, or an entire year can be viewed. With so much coming at a family on a daily basis, it’s helpful to be able to look at varying lengths of time for those plans that need to be made well head of time.

Reason #5: Everyone Can See It
As parents, it’s great to have the digital reins to the master family calendar. In a quick button click of a button, we can share appointments, family events and block off uninterrupted family time together and push those notifications and events to our kids’ calendars on their phones. Just make sure your kids understand that they must periodically check their calendars for changes and updates.

Once you put everyone’s schedule on one calendar you will begin to see when uninterrupted family times together can be added and what, if anything, needs to be removed to allow for those times. This may not be an easy thing to do, but start by deciding the answers to two questions.

First, what is most important to you and your family right now? (Dinner together? Game night? Eating out? Family fun night?) Whatever that is, put it on your calendar first because whatever gets scheduled usually gets done.

Second, what can you eliminate or stop doing right now? This is probably the more difficult of the two questions because someone in the family usually ends up sacrificing more than someone else, but sacrifice is always a difficult but necessary step in order to move toward time together.

The bottom line is that you have to schedule uninterrupted family times together, and you need to schedule those times in a way that works for your family–be it on a paper calendar or a digital one. But honestly, go digital, please!

There are several free calendar programs available online. I tossed a question out on Facebook asking if parents use a family calendar and, if so, which one. From the responses I received, here are the the top three calendars that were being used by the parents who responded.

Which calendar do you you use? Why is it the best for your family?

How To No Your Family Boundaries

No, it’s not a typo in the title. “No’ing” where your boundaries are as a family most often consists of setting limits. Setting limits in today’s modern world of too many choices usually involves saying that little word “no.” A family boundary is something you set that indicates a healthy limit for your family.

Here are a few questions that represent the myriad of activities common to most families. Discuss these questions with your family and work on coming up with some healthy family boundaries:

  • How many sports can your child (or children)be involved in at one time?
  • How many times should your family have dinner together each week?
  • How much homework is appropriate each school day?
  • How many outside activities can your child (or children) be involved in at one time?
  • What time should I, as a parent, be home from work?
  • How much TV time is allowed each day?
  • How much computer or phone time is appropriate each day?

Feeding children a healthy life pace most definitely requires setting a few boundaries. A healthy diet is not only built on what you eat, but on what you don’t eat! Taking steps now to define a few boundaries is much easier than trying to make some up on the fly.

I know for a fact our kids love boundaries. Okay, I know what you may be thinking after that statement: Yeah, right! Kids don’t like boundaries. They are always pushing against them! I know. That’s why I said our kids like them! Our three children get great satisfaction out of pushing boundaries to their full potential.

I can only assume that with the energy, excitement and enthusiasm they demonstrate when standing in front of a family boundary that naturally they love them. They seem to get such great satisfaction out of pushing against each and every one that Mary and I set up.

Think of it this way. All children push the boundaries. If they had a job at their age, they would be paid to push the boundaries. They would get up, take a shower, change and go to work––pushing boundaries work.

The following are three boundaries we have implemented at the Jutila home. They aren’t right and they aren't wrong they just are in our home. The key is to find a few that fit your family well and help you live a healthy family balance.

1. Our children will play one sport at a time.
This made life easier for us and our kids. High School sports are a challenge.

2. Our entire family will have dinner together three times a week.
Has allowed deeper relationships and keeps us connected.

3. Mary and I will not say yes or commit to anything until we have discussed it together.
Less arguments about who is doing what, when and where.

You may need to know your boundaries before you can no your boundaries. Maybe now is a good time to start. Do you have any in mind?

What is your child’s favorite boundary to push against?

Are You Living Life End-To-End Or And-To-And?

Modern culture allows us to live in a way that keeps us not only physically busy but mentally and emotionally busy as well. I can remember growing up playing three different sports because each sport had its own season. There was a beginning to the season and an end. Today there is often a beginning, but rarely is there an end to any sport or activity.

When I was a child life offered us fewer choices. I had one video game: Pong. That was the extent of my video game choice. I couldn’t play my video game with friends from another country or even from around the corner. To me, the world was big and slow. As parents you and I were, in some ways, forced to live life end to end. Take a look at what could have been a typical parent schedule 30 years ago.

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Life happened end to end, because it was the only way it could be done. You couldn’t start a work-related phone call at home and walk out to your car to continue the conversation. Unless, of course, you went to Radio Shack and bought one of those fifty-foot phone cords, but that would only get you to the car, not down the street!

Once you got to the office, you could make a call or answer mail. No, not email, just mail. You remember mail, don’t you? Those paper envelopes delivered to a little box outside your house or to your office?

Living life end to end had its advantages. There were natural boundaries built into life, which meant we didn’t need to think about them too much. Today’s modern family has a vast array of choices. We are compelled to set healthy boundaries or suffer the consequences of busyness, hurry and out-of-pace living.

When our culture made a drastic change in the way families spend their time; when we gained the capability of living life on multiple layers at the same time, we didn’t live life end to end anymore. We can and, in many ways, must live life and to and.

There are benefits to both ways of living. However, there is more potential for an unhealthy pace of life with the latter. Take a look at a typical parent schedule from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m in today’s modern world. It could look something like this.

See how much we can do in such a short amount of time when we live life and to and? Our ability has outpaced our capacity, and that leads to a question for each of us to consider: Has our capacity for doing more increased?

As I process that question, I am inclined to say no, it hasn’t. Our capacity hasn’t changed, but our ability to reach it has. If you have a 16-ounce glass and want to pour 18 ounces into it, you most certainly can. However, as we all know, a 16-ounce glass holds 16 ounces, and no more. So, if you choose to pour 18 ounces into a 16-ounce glass, you will have a 2-ounce mess.

Two Questions For Each of Us To Ponder

Are you pouring 18oz of lifestyle into a 16oz glass? If so, what two ounces are you making a mess with?

If I were to answer that question honestly I would tell you the “mess” went to my family. They got the left overs, they got what was spilled and it shouldn’t be that way. The solution, in my opinion is to do the best we can to live life end to end not and to and. What do you think?