With regards to parenting, they say the days are long, but the years are short. As we flip the calendar to another new year, it’s worth looking at how we can steward those long days to create years of family bonding and sweet memories. Here are five simple (yet hard-fought) family habits to take into the New Year:
1. Family dinner – This is a high priority for our family. I will decline even good things that come in the way of family dinner. Studies upon studies tout the benefits of a regular family dinner. When children are younger, family dinner can be difficult as it resembles a chore more than a comfort. When children are older, family dinner can be difficult as they have more activities that take them out of the house. Family dinner is hard at every stage and there will always be a reason to forgo this special time (Satan will make sure of it), but making it a goal will pay dividends long after your children have left the nest. My goal is most nights of the week we are all together around our table sharing a meal. And electronics are never on the menu.
2. Pray together – Our family prays together each night before bed and it is such a sweet and sacred time (and sometimes hilariously funny and other times shamefully frustrating, but we’ll focus on the sweet and sacred, mmmkay?). We gather together before bed and each pray out loud. Not only is the act of family prayer a blessing, but it teaches our children how to pray and the importance of daily prayer.
3. Date nights for Mom and Dad – While this activity doesn’t involve kids, the family as a whole benefits when Mom and Dad are connecting. We’ve explained to our kids that part of loving them is us loving each other and carving out time for just the two of us. Date nights are awesome, but they are a struggle for us as other commitments and apathy get in the way. My husband and I have resolved to put more date nights on the calendar this year.
4. Kid dates – If you have multiple children like we do, it’s important to spend one-on-one time with each child. I tend to mother the herd, but spending time with each child individually will feel like a treasure to each child. And I like it, too. I get to see my kids in a different, more vivid light when it’s just me spending time with one of them. One-on-one time can be a “date” or special event, but it doesn’t have to be. It can be a quick trip to the grocery store or a walk around the neighborhood.
5. Nurture your own personal relationship with Jesus – Although this is last on our list, it should be the first priority of each Christian. We cannot lead Christian homes without a full commitment to Christ. A counterfeit Christian home ceases to be a Christian home at all. Read and study your Bible. Pray. Talk about what you are learning with your family.
My husband and I must be intentional about each of the items above because none of them will happen on their own. Each one will fall prey to the tyranny of the urgent unless they are faithfully (and ruthlessly) guarded. It’s not always easy, but we believe each of the habits above will make those long days the days we’ll long for in years to come.
Please share some of your positive family habits in the comments. We’d love to hear what you are doing!