So it’s been awhile since I have had time (or thoughts) to write much beyond my kids’ updates and some haphazardly written tot school posts here and there. But the truth is, I like writing. And although I do like writing about my kids and their development (I love it, actually.), I also want to be able to have an outlet to write about and share other spiritual or family life kind of things. So here I sit during my weekly sabbath time – grateful that sabbath is part of our weekly rhythms and glad to have space like this to think, process, write, and share.
Rhythms of life – we all have them, whether we plan for them or not. Some things happen naturally, which is good. But some things will never “happen naturally” if we don’t plan for them. I am a planner. Anyone who has spent more than five minutes with me could know this about me, I’m certain. (Side note – There are definitely pros and cons to this part of my personality, and I definitely have to pray to overcome my temptation to be so planned that I am inflexible to the way the Holy Spirit may be leading my day if it’s out of my plan.)
That being said, I do think it can be really important for individuals and families to plan certain activities into their weekly schedules. Since families involve multiple people and schedules, I think it’s really important to prioritize and make sure your week has the opportunity to hold in it everything each family members deems as important to their ability to thrive.
So I’d love to explain to you some of the rhythms that our family has adopted. We have received so much guidance and wisdom from those who have walked through life with our family – starting with our own parents, various premarital counselors, friends, and more. Also, my husband is a great leader for our family, and he is very intentional with how we structure our family time, which I love. A little caveat, though, is that none of these things listed are the be-all-end-all. Obviously, these are just ways that we as a family set up our time in hopes that we make room for what we see as important, specifically:
1) time for us all to spend with God – individually and as a family,
2) time for Freeman and I to spend as a couple,
3) time for us both to get some time alone for other activities, such as time with friends or time for exercise,
4) and time for us to spend together as a family, making memories.
Also, this is an ever-evolving kind of thing. The way that we have it setup is working for our family now, but we also have areas that we could improve. Also, I’ll share what we’re doing now, but please be aware that the way we do things might not work well for your family, or vice versa. It’s more just food for thought in case even one thing we are doing might be helpful for your family to adopt. (And if you have any ideas to share with me, I’m all ears!)
- Family Devo
- Date Night and Trips
- Flex Time
- Family Fun
So what do these family rhythms look like in our week? I’ll break it down to various rhythms we have adopted and explain each one.
- Sabbath – A time of rest in God. This is a time in our week when we don’t work, but we create a pocket of time where we can enjoy non-work things and can reconnect with God after a busy week, preparing us to be better equipped for the coming week. I know biblically, it mentions that this is to be a full day, but I also know that there are some responsibilities, e.g. children, that can’t be left for a full day. The way Freeman and I work this out is to take one of his days off and split it up. He takes a “Sabbath” time in the morning until their naps, and then I take a Sabbath time after the kids go down for nap. We Sabbath differently, but we both make sure to take extra time with God, reading His Word and praying and also some time doing other things we love – whether that’s sitting in a coffee shop, walking through a park or a museum, or reading a favorite book (or sometimes for me it’s shopping or taking a hot bath!)
- Family Devo – A time for our family to connect with God. We obviously want this to happen naturally throughout our week, but for now, we have a planned time on Monday mornings. We eat a family breakfast, and we talk through what Fairley has learned in church the day before. As she grows, we’ll want to make sure this happens daily, but some rhythms start slowly and grow, so that’s where we are now.
- Date Night and Trips – Alone time together as a couple is so important. We try to go out on a date weekly, but sometimes that’s not possible. During those weeks, we still make sure to keep a “date night” on our calendar, and we do it at home. It’s fun to be creative, and it still gives us something to look forward to, and it keeps us from continuing to work or veg out after the kids go to bed, but rather to spend time reconnecting with one another. We also love taking little mini getaways when we can. Sometimes it’s an overnight at a bed and breakfast outside the city, or maybe even a groupon deal on a hotel in the city. Or when we go to Texas, we sometimes try to just take one night away in a cheap hotel there. And then obviously, when budget and childcare allows for it, we love taking other longer trips together if possible. It’s so refreshing to get extra rest, have more time to sit and read and process together, and to just build our marriage through the additional couple time that it affords us.
- Flex Time – So this is something that Freeman came up with when we had our first child. We realized that it was hard on both of us to get up early every day or to be “on call” right after work every day. It worked better if we kind of gave each other little pockets of time “off” to either work out, sleep in, have a longer quiet time, or go to breakfast or coffee with a friend. So we worked this out by adding in “flex times.” Basically, we split up the week, and each person alternatively had a morning off or an afternoon off each day, to do any of the activities listed above. This one doesn’t happen as much anymore since with two kids, it kind of requires “all hands on deck” at times, but we are still able to make it happen in the morning. Freeman gets up with the kids on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and I usually work out on those mornings. I get up with the kids the other days, and that frees him up to sleep later, read more, or meet up with a friend.
- Family Fun – We try to make sure we have one slot of time in our week where our whole family spends time together, engaging in some fun activity where we can build memories together. Lately, that time has been on Saturday mornings. This is a time where we can also invite other families in to join us, but we do try to make the focus building family relationships if possible.
- Two other additional rhythms which have helped our family:
- Family Staff Meeting – Freeman and I sit down together on Monday nights and sync our calendars for the upcoming week. (We share a Google calendar, which is helpful, but it’s also nice just to have a heads up for what’s coming up that week. We can also see what the other person has on the horizon and ask questions about how we can pray for and support each other throughout the next week.) We also talk about budget and any other major questions we have for one another. This alleviates a lot of conversations, which require more time but come up throughout the week at inopportune times. It alleviated a lot of stress in our marriage to save some of those types of conversations to not happen during the week (usually when Freeman was trying to work or we were both trying to relax at night), but rather to happen in a time that we had planned to sit down and do some family life planning together. (If both people are ready to engage in those types of conversations, they usually go better than if they are an interruption to an already busy time.)
- Coffee Shop Night – After several months of Family Staff Meeting nights, we realized that although it was worth saving all of the planning for one big meeting each week, it was also taking a toll on us to spend one whole night together talking through so many logistical and also big picture things. So Freeman came up with the idea that we should also maybe set up a time just to sit and talk (and not turn on the TV) and just process what God is teaching us in life. This has been such a fun, intentional time together, and is definitely something to look forward to after we do the “work” of a planning night, such as Staff Meeting.
So that’s just a little glimpse into some of our Field family rhythms. They work for our family now, but we know they’ll need to evolve as our family evolves. I know that different jobs and family responsibilities offer different levels of flexibility, so talking about what does work for your family is key. But a little planning might go a long way, so consider praying through your family rhythms and letting God guide you as you intentionally plan your time each week.