Our son’s wedding will take place in just a few weeks. A couple of days ago, the plane tickets were purchased after months of hoping for a good deal. We finally realized that this particular trip was not a ticket bargain hunter’s paradise. It was more important to have final arrangements than to save a few bucks.
When searching for flights, the first item you are asked to enter is the airport from which you will depart. The second item is the airport to which you are flying. In order to discover which flights are available on the dates you choose, you have to know where you are and where you are going.
Although it’s easy to forget, it’s the same with your family life.
What does your family life look like right now? And what do you want it to look like? In other words, where are you and where are you going?
When I say “family life,” I mean the fabric of your days–how you spend your time. Are you watching too much TV? Are you reading aloud regularly? Do you have a family game night? Do you eat meals together around the table several times a week? Is technology stealing your relationships?
We recently asked ourselves these very questions. My husband and I had been on a casual date night. We shared a two-fer soup and sandwich at Schlotzky’s and did a bit of window shopping. When we arrived home I suddenly told him that I wanted to discuss something that had been bothering me. I’m sure he gulped and wondered what can of worms was spinning on the electric can opener. He seemed a little relieved when I shared that it seemed like everyone had been spending too much time on the computer and not enough time reading.
Thus began a long-overdue family meeting.
We called everybody in, some of them carrying bowls of the ice cream we had brought home for a surprise. We explained that we felt that our family life had become fragmented and disorganized over a period of several months. After some discussion, we asked each child (ages 8-21, home for the summer) to answer this question:
What do you want your family life to look like?
The answers were simple. And surprisingly emotional. I won’t intrude on our family’s privacy to share details. But we decided on some specifics to change and incorporate. Musical instruments, paints and board games will be involved. I was really glad we had asked the question and gotten a glimpse into each other’s hearts.
If we don’t think about where we want to end up in our family life, it’s pretty likely we’ll end up somewhere we didn’t want to go. It would be silly to board a plane and not know where you were going to land. But every day we lose sight of what we want our family life to look like, so we make choices and live life in a way that takes us where we didn’t plan.
Having a vision for what you want informs your choices. For instance, knowing that we have set aside an evening for Family Night means that we’ll say “no” to other invitations and events. Knowing that a certain activity is important to a family member makes it a priority to include in the schedule. These little things add up and create your family’s shared life together.
If you’re feeling some disconnect in your home lately, it’s probably time to take a look at the gap between what you want your life to look like and what you’re actually living. Don’t have a crisis, just look at things objectively and admit where you’ve gotten off track. Then make a simple plan to remove or add the things that will get you closer to your goal.
If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time. ~ Zig Ziglar
Step back and check your family flight plan. Is what you’re doing going to get you to your destination? Do you even know what your destination is?
What DO you want your family life to look like? Your comments are always welcome.