We’ve been doing “fall” with kids for some time now, but it the dramatic change of pace is still a little jarring. From one day to the next, you go from the lazy days of summer to a jam packed schedule of homework, sports, clubs, and renewed church activities. It always takes a couple of weeks to get readjusted to this pace especially when you’re coming out of the summer.
It might seem to you, if you’re a parent, that you barely have time to get a meal on the table much less make a family plan for the fall. The pace of the fall can quickly become your master and you find yourself living reactively rather than proactively. Relationships suffer, life becomes frazzled, and nerves are stretched to the breaking point – unless you make the effort to take a proactive stance.
But how do you do that? It’s certainly looks different on different families, for families have a different capacity for level of activity and rest. But I would suggest that at a minimum, parents ought to be asking some key questions to each other for the sake of their family as fall presses on. Here are three of those questions:
1. How is our family going to pursue Jesus together?
Discipleship isn’t just a “me” thing; it’s a “we” thing. That’s true in the church at large, but it’s also true in families. We ought, as families, to be helping each other along as we follow Jesus together. That’s why a question like this is so important – it’s because without asking the question, and without answering it in practical, tangible ways, then the idea of following Jesus as a family will be just that – an idea.
So how is your family going to do that? You might say that you want to begin reading the Bible together in the mornings. If that’s the case, then it means that everyone will need to make lunches, finish homework, and sign papers the night before. You might also say that you want to make sure that worship in the church is non-negotiable. That means you’ll have to evaluate hard things like travel sports teams. Whatever the case, it all starts with just asking the question, and then following up on specific things that make the resolutions possible.
2. What is our technology plan?
Technology isn’t going anywhere. It’s already part of life at school, and most likely, already part of your life at home. Because it is, you need a plan, and so do I. That plan should be simple, clear, and achievable. Though it starts with acknowledging the need for a plan in this question, there are some other questions you will likely need to ask to follow up. Questions like:
- When and where are acceptable times and places in the home to use an internet connected device?
- How are we going to make sure there is visibility for everyone’s devices, search history, and activity online?
- How are we going to differentiate between technology needed for education and technology used for entertainment
The point is that technology is so prevalent in our lives that we ought to be budgeting for it in terms of time the same way we budget for financial expenditures.
3. How are creating margin?
“Margin” is the stuff at the edges. If we’re not proactive in this, we will end up spending all our time, all our resources, all our money, all our everything and find ourselves with nothing left at the end of everyday. The end of that road is exhaustion. And bitterness. So how are we going to build in a sense of margin in the lives of our families this fall?
Another way to say it – how are we going to protect some of our resources? Part and parcel with asking this question is developing the discipline of saying “no.” We can’t say “yes” to every invitation, every activity, and every opportunity if we expect to have any margin left over.
And we need margin. Sure, we need it to rest, but we also need margin for the sake of gospel opportunities that come our way. We need margin for those “just in case” moments in life. Just in case there is a chance to host our neighbors for dinner. Just in case there is a chance to give to an important kingdom cause. Just in case we need to go and sit with a friend who is sick or in grief. All these things require margin.
So, parents, start with these. Ask some simple questions. And trust the Lord to guide you to take a proactive stance for the sake of your family this fall.