Finding Time for Family

    By Jennifer Maddy

    Creating memorable family time can be difficult, but it’s not impossible.

    It’s dinnertime. You were looking forward to a meal with your family, but it just isn’t happening. Your son grabs a roll off the table on his way to soccer practice. Your daughter jumps up, remembering her study group, and runs out the door. Your youngest wants to go to a friend’s house. Oh, and the dog still needs a walk. Sound familiar? You are not alone! Our schedules are packed and our days are stressful, so getting even a minute of family time can seem like wishful thinking—especially if your kids don’t even seem too interested. Fortunately, you have prayer and counsel from Church leaders on your side. And with some work and prioritization, you and your family can create memorable quality time together.

    Pray for Direction

    Counsel together as a family and pray about how you want to spend your time. Pray about family members’ needs and schedules and listen for answers. Look for ways you can change how your family balances time, and pray for Heavenly Father’s approval or redirection. President Russell M. Nelson has said that when we examine our lives, “the Holy Ghost will prompt [us] about what is no longer needful, what is no longer worthy of your time and energy.”1

    Make Time for the Best Activities

    Make time for what is best.  “In choosing how we spend time as a family, we should be careful not to exhaust our available time on things that are merely good and leave little time for that which is better or best,” said President Dallin H. Oaks. He cautioned about the amount of time children spend in good activities, such as sports, lessons, and school activities, and encouraged parents to preserve time for better activities like home evening, family scripture study, and one-on-one time with their children.2

    As your children get older, their interests and responsibilities will change. Let your family time change with them. Maybe your son gets a job in the evenings when you usually have family scripture study. Try adjusting your reading schedule to include him. If your daughter needs to be at school early for play practice and is going to miss family prayer, get the family up earlier so she can join in, or pray with her one-on-one before she leaves. Consider tying prayer or a little scripture time to an existing habit like bedtime or mealtime. Adjustments like these can help you prioritize quality family time together.

    Build Positive Moments into Your Routine

    Quality family time doesn’t have to be a grand vacation or a daylong event. You might start by getting together each week to simply plan the coming week and see when you can all spend time together. You can also find opportunities in the routine tasks that come with daily life. Do chores as a family. When you run errands together, consider turning off all devices so that you can just talk.  One-on-one time is important too! Taking one child on an errand can yield the quantity of individual time that becomes quality time. Don’t forget to look for opportunities to play with your children. Everyday play is ‘quality time’ that is available to every family no matter their circumstance.

    Try a Tech Timeout

    Church leaders have cautioned about the overuse of smartphones, the internet, and social media.3 While those things can be good for connecting with others and getting information, they can also take away from your time with your family. Taking pictures is important, but try not to live your life looking at your loved ones through a lens. Your children will value face-to-face interaction more than you might ever know. You might also consider participating in a media “fast” as invited by President Russell M. Nelson.4

    Figuring out how to spend more quality time together as a family can be challenging. But don’t feel guilty when it doesn’t happen quite as much as you wish it would. Don’t see an unsuccessful attempt as a failure. Keep smiling, keep trying! Heavenly Father will help you as you seek His guidance for your family.

    Notes

    1. Russell M. Nelson, “Spiritual Treasures,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2019, 77.
    2. Dallin H. Oaks, “Good, Better, Best,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 105.
    3. See, for example, Steven W. Owen, “Be Faithful, Not Faithless,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2019, 12–14; Gary E. Stevenson, “Spiritual Eclipse,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2017, 44–47.
    4. Russell M. Nelson, “Sisters’ Participation in the Gathering of Israel,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2018, 69.

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