The strength of a family, like the strength of an army, is in its loyalty to each other.
I walked into my kitchen one Saturday morning and all was quiet. I’d been outside hanging the washing, noticing the colours in the sky, the way the clouds were smeared across it. The dog was at my heels, the grass was green and I was thinking about ways I could entice my husband to hang my hammock so I could enjoy this summer-perfect day outside.
A quick walk through my too-quiet house made my heart sink. A child in each bedroom, and a husband who’d joined them; everyone with their face too close to a device that was stimulating them with too much colour and too much noise.
And it was too much.
Too much that they weren’t outside noticing what I’d noticed, or interacting with each other.
Too much that these screens, although they weren’t allowed them often (our rule is no screens, even tv during the week) had a magnetic pull had them hooked and craving them any time they could. I enjoyed the quiet for a little while. Wiped the bench tops, pushed open the windows, collected the stray things that spread themselves over any and every available space and then I sat to pull my phone to my own face, for a little bit of mindless scrolling.
Until I caught sight of the blue sky again. Something stirred in me, unsettled and I sat frowning.
From deep within came an angry whisper: this is not the culture I want to create for my family.
Creating is not passive.
To create something is to work with intention, ferocity.
We can not sit back in apathy and expect that our creations will form themselves. And if they do, it’s a result of default and not of discernment, and the outcome will never be quite as we’d hoped. Creating takes time, and effort, and energy.
If we’re creating something with intention, we’ve prioritised that thing over the other things we could be doing. And we keep prioritising. They don’t create themselves.
Just like that painting that comes to life with every layer of brushstrokes, and every hour spent squinting, and stepping back and seeing.
Just like the dancer with the bruised toes from her pointe shoes, who’s choreography is just right.
Just like the mum who makes space in her day to prioritise the hearts and minds of her family members. Who puts down her phone, who steps away from her routine and her to-do list, and thinks up creative ways to spend quality time together.
I am fiercely committed to creating a culture in my family that does not allow us to miss out on the beauty of all that life has for us, because we were too busy on our i-devices watching the lives of others instead of living our own. Time is passing rapidly, and I have an urgency to grab hold of every beautiful piece of life that God has to offer me. I refuse to let the culture of the day define my family.
Here are a few things I’ve been doing to create a change in culture in my family:
1. It starts with me.
I have to set the example – not just to my kids but to my husband as well. I can nag all I like, but am I following my own advice? Put your phone down, mama. When you get outside, they’ll follow.
What do they want to do? Where do they need you? I’ve been setting aside the time between school pick up, and starting-dinner to just be available. We eat afternoon tea together, and I let them dictate what happens from there.
For one it might just be practising those spelling words, for the other help with a craft project, for the other, a re-match of a game of Backgammon (my 10 year old’s favourite right now). Be present, be available.
3. Let go of perfection
Life is messy. Learn to be okay with walking away from it – your people will thank you.
You got this,