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Ways to re-establish family time

It may feel like your family is going a million different directions, seven days a week. Between the kids’ sports schedules and other weekend commitments, perhaps you have a hard time going to Mass or eating dinner together, or having other quality time as a family. Is it even possible to make time for your family, while still carving out time for what everyone wants to do?

When I was young, I watched commercials showing happy people using their “labor saving” appliances. It seemed that dishwashers and microwaves were going to give us more leisure time than any generation had ever known. Instead, time management has become a booming business in affluent countries. As a society we aren’t happier than we were before these inventions came along. This Easter season, it might help to ponder an image of God that Jesus gave us, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” (John 15:1)

“ ... every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:2) Families establish habits. It may be that time is consumed in a way that once made sense but is no longer effective.

Keep an “hour-by-hour” log for three weekends to get a sense of how time is being spent. Then, review your log to see how you might make small changes. Look at the impact of the changes on each person so that the family as a whole stays healthy. When you pray, ask your Father to help find places to cut back on time commitments.

“Make level paths for your feet.” (Prov 4:26) If you procrastinate, then something that isn’t important suddenly becomes a high priority because it “just has to get done.”

Pace yourself so that you aren’t overwhelmed. It isn’t possible to donate money to every worthy charity and it isn’t possible to give your time to every good cause. Another way to pace yourself is to be satisfied when a task has been done adequately, even if it isn’t perfect!

“ ... His mother treasured all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:51) Imagine that the years have flown by, and like Mary, you’ve built up memories to treasure. What are the moments that make you smile? Shared activities? Family jokes?

Watch to see what makes the faces of your children light up. The word “silly” is said to have come from the word “selig,” which means “blessed” in Greek. Share laughter to help keep the Sabbath holy!

Research shows that our behaviors are influenced by what might be, not just by what has happened in our past. We think about our “possible selves.” In 1888, Alfred Nobel, expecting to read an obituary about his brother, Ludvig, instead saw a headline that announced his own death: “Le marchand de la mort est mort” (The merchant of death is dead). The newspaper reported how Alfred’s invention of dynamite was used in warfare instead of noting its uses in blasting tunnels and cutting canals. This premature obituary shaped Nobel’s desire to associate his name with a legacy of peace and his will established the Nobel Prizes. We, too, have the opportunity to change, to grow fruitful as branches nourished by the true vine, Christ.