“What the New Schedule Has Done for Our Family,” Ensign, June 1981, 9
I was happy to see how smoothly the new meeting schedule took effect that first Sunday in March 1980. And I’ve been even happier to see how much our lives have been enriched since then. The blessings aren’t limited only to Sundays—the new schedule affects our whole week.
That first Sunday it was delightful for all seven of us to crowd into the car and drive to church together. It had been a while since we were all in the car at the same time, and I hadn’t realized how big my older sons were getting. A nice feeling of togetherness prevailed as we drove to our meetinghouse. And the meetings went beautifully that day.
The real impact of the new program, however, began to manifest itself more fully during the months that followed. With fewer meetings and more time at home, my husband, our five sons, and I began to live a less fragmented existence—both Sundays and weekdays.
For the first time in years we determined we had time to attempt a garden, and it actually grew and produced. Barry, 12, started a small dehydrating project, and he and Matthew, 14, took a renewed interest in Scouting and made plans to earn their Eagle awards.
We began to have more time for yard work and tending a few new animals on our two acres of land. The boys had fun making cookies and were delighted with the more frequent smell of homemade bread from the kitchen. We even painted our house and felt a camaraderie I don’t believe we had ever enjoyed so fully before as we accomplished tasks together. The change in feeling was gradual but evident to all of us.
Dad seemed to be enlarging his role as patriarch in our home. It was great to see him lead out with the projects that had needed to be done for so long. The boys all followed his lead, and it was obvious that they enjoyed the feeling of some hard work, especially when each task was finished for that particular day. Nine-year-old Robbie came in one day very hot, perspiring heavily, and said, “Dad taught me to work, but he never taught me to love it!” He smiled a knowing smile, and I smiled back. I could tell he was proud of what he had done that day.
When our oldest son, Glenn, left home to work for the summer for the first time, we gathered our family in the early morning hours to witness his receiving a father’s blessing. It was an exceptional experience. We felt confident that this first separation of our family would be a time of growth for all of us.
Of course it’s not all smooth—it never realistically could be with a family of five boys and all the variables in our personalities. But there is certainly more time for the needed discipline, for long walks and talks to communicate a little better, and for appreciation for each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Besides regular family home evenings, we’ve been having more family activities lately—lots of home movies, slides, cookouts, and whatever else seemed fun for us. We spent one especially nice evening recently getting out the boys’ baby books, looking at the pictures, reading the little entries, and laughing together as we sat in a circle on the living room floor.
There’s also been a little more time for family travel—one of our favorite activities—and for closer-to-home trips to science centers, local historical spots, museums, factories, parks, and whatever is available that is fun and interesting. We take picnic lunches or stop for ice cream occasionally to make each trip special. These family trips have welded a bond among all of us.
The new time schedule has also begun to allow us more free time to step into community affairs to meet more people on a neighborly basis, and to socialize with friends and neighbors both in and out of the Church. It’s been fun to have the time to invite a few more people into our home and to spend evenings with others at their homes. We are impressed with the good effects of these widening friendships on us and our children.
Quality family time doesn’t just happen. It takes years of trying. It takes patience to overcome the difficult days when everything seems to go wrong, and to realize that the brighter days do come—that gradually, with everyone trying just a little harder, we can make those brighter days come much more frequently. In this, the consolidated meeting schedule has been a great help.
We like the new meeting schedule. For us, it’s working!