As we reach the middle of summer, it is that time of year when we all need to take a step back and examine more than just our life, but the lives of those around us. The school supplies fill the store shelves, the emails are flood with clothing sales, the required school paperwork is due, and dates for fall activities must now be added to the calendar, but there is something even more important than all of this! We must covet and adjust our schedules to enjoy those last weeks of summer with those we love and devote our lives to our family.
Family dinners were always a huge part of my childhood. My brothers and I may have missed a few in high school, in exchange for our sports and after-school clubs, but looking back, I wish we hadn’t. At the time the sports, clubs, friends, and part-time jobs seemed important, but in the grander scheme of things, they were not. My mom always said, “Be kind to your brothers. Friends will come and go, but you will always have your siblings.” She was right. There is nothing greater than the bond of a family. There will always be moments of hardship and disagreement, but we cannot let those become the norm. Those times of suffering are natural to human life, but our focus should always remain in support of the family.
My husband and I strongly focus our attention on family time. This doesn’t mean we have to be together all the time, because this isn’t possible with a large family. We find time during the small moments: dinner, working together as a family while fixing the house or landscaping, or having meaningful conversations on the way to a sport practice. All of these make a difference. If we want to thrive and learn to bond as a family, we must put away the distractions – whether that’s homework, cell phones, or work papers. The distractions are different for every person, and should always take a back seat when it comes to family time.
For us, family time always includes Sundays. They are a God-given day of rest that we should all be thankful for and take advantage of them. Each Sunday may look a bit different, but overall, it is quality time spent with our children. Whether getting together with extended family for a game of soccer or baseball in the backyard, watching the Packers, taking naps after enjoying brunch, or reading a saint story before bed, these are the times the children will always remember. I have very fond memories of my Sundays as a child, and I hope to continue sharing the importance of this valuable time with my children.
This world is busy, but it up to the parents to find what keeps the family grounded. We know what our children need, and often it is spending time with the family to confirm love. It might be as simple as kneeling down to say the Rosary every evening after dinner. Venerable Patrick Peyton said, “A family that prays together, stays together.”
It’s important to love and learn from our family members. If we don’t know the members of our immediate family, then we aren’t truly living. These are the people who will be there for us through thick and thin, even if it takes a while to get over last year’s family reunion, they are still family.
I’d love to hear from you. How do you spend time together as a family? What has worked and what hasn’t when juggling busy schedules? How do you create an experience that not only allows, but forces you to understand and learn more about each other? Are you searching for a consistent family activity that will grow your bond?
It might take a while to find your family’s “thing,” and sometimes if you have been gifted with a friend who is like family then you are truly blessed to open your circle and to grow in love. Continue searching, and eventually you will find what brings your family joy and you won’t want to let it go. It will be worth giving up some of the parties, the overtime at work, lunches with friends, and even the addicting Instagram stories because your family is where you can be yourself and where you can rejuvenate for the upcoming week.
Put your family as a priority and everything else will quickly fall into line.
Copyright 2019 Danielle Heckenkamp