The Most Important Time

CroyleHow to make family time a priority in the midst of your busy life.

By John Croyle

As we move into the 2015–2016 school year, what are your plans concerning school supplies, backpacks, Friday night ballgames, birthday parties, etc.? For each of us, we have a plan for making this coming school year the best we can possibly make it.

At Big Oak Ranch, we have been working for two months to get all of our children ready for school. We have 40 additional children living with us than at this time last year. Starting with our kindergarten-age children all the way up to our seniors at various colleges across the Southeast, we are preparing to educate 160 children this coming fall. Trust me, we fully understand what you’re going through as you prepare your children for this upcoming school year. Let me ask you an important question: Are you making plans in regards to family time? If not, don’t expect it to just happen.

We identify with how fast-paced things have gotten. As I travel around the country, I am asked by many people, “What is wrong with today’s family?” So many of these hurting parents don’t have an answer when I reply with the question, “When was the last time y’all sat around the kitchen table at supper and just talked?” So often the response is, “You don’t understand how busy we are!”

At the Ranch, we are now in our 41st year, having raised almost 2,000 children. Each had schedules as busy as your children. So yes, we do understand. It takes discipline to set aside time for your family to be a family. At the core of this self-discipline is the simple truth: You make time for what’s important to you.

What’s important to you? What is controlling your life?

We have boys participating in various football and basketball teams. We have girls who are cheerleaders or playing volleyball or soccer. They all have homework. (If I could add a side note, a large percentage of our children are behind academically when we get them. Their homework time might even last a little bit longer than yours.) My point with all this is simply, yes, we understand.

You and your family must sit down and make plans for Friday night ballgames, for Saturday college games, church on Sunday, or meetings throughout the week. Why not sit down and make plans for one night a week that is set aside for family time?

For example, on your scheduled family night, everyone in your family knows this time is set in stone just like any other important weekly event. Whatever time you agree is convenient for all involved is marked on the calendar. Dentist appointments, doctor appointments, PTF meeting, etc. So many appointments. And you go to these appointments because you believe they are important and you planned for them. Treat your family time exactly the same. With that thought in mind, plan ahead for one night a week to have a meal together. This does not mean taking your family in the car and going through a drive-through as a substitute for family time.

Be honest. You make time for what’s important to you; if you are losing this quality relationship time with your family, it is up to you as the parent to fix it. If you don’t fix it, then don’t complain when your children are in high school and they have no time for you, because they have learned from you that family time is not important enough to schedule. The ripple effect extends into the future. When they get older, they still won’t have time for you because family time when they were growing up was not a priority.

Mom and Dad, don’t say your life is too busy. The fact is, you’re in control. I know this is not easy to do, but most of the time, nothing worthwhile is.

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