“Wherever you are, be all there!
Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.”
I am thankful to be a “stay-at-home-mom”…and also grateful that for now, my calling also includes being a homeschooling mom. I have often reminded myself that even on my very hardest days at home, there is still no where else I would rather be.
I spend a lot of time with my children…pretty much all day every day. Feeding, cleaning, clothing, brushing, admonishing, instructing, washing, praying, sweeping, vacuuming, teaching, correcting, disciplining…
Physically, there is no question that I am where I need to be…in the place God has ordained for me, for such a time as this.
Perhaps you’re in a workplace during the day…the place God has ordained for you, for such a time as this. And your time with your children, though less plentiful, is certainly no less significant.
No matter how many or how few moments we have with our children, each moment is precious. Precious because each one is fast and fleeting and we know they won’t last forever.
But even more, these moments are precious because they are divinely ordained.
God’s call to parents in Deuteronomy 6 is that we must teach our children diligently while we sit in our houses, while we walk by the way, when we lie down, and when we rise up. I don’t know about you, but that covers pretty much every single part of my twenty-four hour time allotment each day.
So I believe that as Christ-following parents, we must view every moment the way God does: as an opportunity, and even a responsibility, to point our children to Him.
No, that doesn’t mean we must preach expository sermons at them or lead inductive Bible studies with them every moment of every day. But it does mean we must be intentional about making the most of our time with our children.
Whether it’s feeding them, reading with them, clothing them, praying with them, teaching them, transporting them, cuddling with them, listening to them, sharing with them, working alongside them, serving with them, exemplifying hospitality before them, we must be intentional about teaching them to know Him and training them in His ways.
No matter how many or how few moments there are, we are accountable to God for how we spend them.
I wonder if you’ve ever struggled with this problem I face at times: while my body is present, so often my mind is…absent. Absorbed in my own selfish interests and leisurely pursuits: engrossed in a texting conversation with a friend…glancing through Facebook statuses…caught up in a television program.
Or perhaps I’m actually completing important tasks for our household, but am unwilling to interrupt these tasks when my children need my attention. I would rather tune them out so I can finish what I’m working on, rather than taking the time to stop what I’m doing, look into their little faces, and listen to the words that are expressing their hearts.
If teaching our children diligently is God’s call for parents (and there’s no doubt that it IS), doesn’t this calling deserve our utmost…our very best…our all? This level of devotion is difficult to achieve when I find myself constantly fighting against multitudes of distractions that seek to divert my attention from what my primary focus should be.
God has been gracious in showing me a few things to help eliminate the distractions…or at least turn down their volume a little. Here are four of them:
1.) Limit leisurely activities to certain time slots. Breaks are good and necessary. But if our leisure time has a defined beginning and ending point, we will be less likely to sneak a few minutes here and there. All too often, once we get started on an activity we enjoy, a few minutes can easily become an hour, and an hour quickly becomes an entire afternoon. Setting a timer may even be helpful.
2.) Complete tasks requiring intense concentration when your children are sleeping. For me, these include chores such as paying bills, balancing the checkbook, menu planning, online clearance shopping, and lesson planning. The chances of me completing one of these tasks without interruption while my children are awake are slim to none. I save myself a lot of frustration and reserve my undivided attention for my kids when I save these chores for later.
3.) Refrain from certain activities altogether. Let’s be honest: some hobbies or interests can draw us in and captivate our attention so completely that we have an extremely hard time breaking away. For me, this means I’m a better wife and mom if I don’t read fiction. There’s nothing wrong with fiction; Christian fiction can even be very helpful (and I’m actually working on writing a novel). But I can get so wrapped up into the fictitious world created by the author that I lose touch with the very real needs of those around me. Prayerfully consider whether there are activities you need to eliminate from your regular schedule.
4.) Do what you can to silence the distractions (literally!). I often have my cell phone on “vibrate” mode during large portions of our day, and I intentionally place it on a counter away from where I’m engaging with my children. Yes, I sometimes miss calls this way. But the undivided attention my children gain as a result of this practice more than makes up for the calls I miss. Otherwise, I have a tendency to text friends and family members off and on all day long.
Let’s be alert, dear friends! Satan is constantly looking for ways to undermine the effectiveness of Christian families as they are in the trenches, training disciples of Christ. One of the tools in his arsenal is that of distraction. There are many perfectly innocent pursuits that severely damage our relationships and our effectiveness as moms because we fail to put them in their proper place.
~~Look carefully then how you walk,
not as unwise but as wise,
making the best use of the time,
because the days are evil.
Therefore do not be foolish,
but understand what the will of the Lord is.~~
(Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV)
How about you? I would love to hear how you keep distractions to a minimum as you interact with your children. Please leave your comment below.
Written by Jennifer Clarke