So why are we bothering to rethink schedules and routines? Why embrace all this hassle and struggle to go against the grain and do something different for our families? Why not just assume it works well enough and deal with the consequences?
The short answer: it makes room for your goals and dreams.
This is where it gets good. When we have our routines and schedules set up for the most life possible, in ways that don’t drain our energy unnecessarily and allow us to give more grace to each other, we can more easily add in interesting goals and dreams. The essentials are moderately more under control, and now we can do more fun stuff, engage more learning, and really explore the specificity of our family and ourselves.
When thinking about these goals and dreams it’s important to think about this in terms of the family pursuits for everyone and individual pursuits for each person so that not all the emphasis goes to one person’s ideas. It might take a little effort and experimentation to figure out what each person might be interested in, but having and being able to pursue those interests can be key to a person’s well-being. We might not know in the beginning, but we can learn as we go, pause to pay attention, create space for trying things out, and take time to find exciting and meaningful challenges, together and separately.
In our family so far we have a good variety. I write here because it helps me to think through these ideas about living, it feels meaningful to share with other people, and it makes a difference in how I live my days. I also love learning through reading, exploring through hiking, and creating through crocheting. Israel experiments constantly with lots of hands on stuff designing, building, and programing quad-copters (think wires/computer pieces, and random physics lab type equipment), trains our dog for a search and rescue (more involved than it looks in writing!), and keeping up with his normal work (intense code problem solving in a very specific niche of the online world). So that’s the grownups in our house, not to mention all the shared work of keeping up with normal house/car/appliance upkeep and everyday chores.
We’re still learning what it means for our kids to make goals and choose interesting activities. Right now it is a lot of playing/creating/learning/building at home, sharing our activities, and choosing things to try out other activities in ways that work for us. They enjoy trips to the zoo, the local science learning center, hikes in the foothills, a week-long summer soccer morning camp, library programs, church kid events, swimming, helping Israel train the dog, and a variety of other things. I also try to listen when they request more supplies (play dough, chalk, legos, craft supplies!) or different options. It’s fun to see what catches their attention and figure out how to build off of it if they’re interested. I’m sure we’ll find more specific things they want to pursue as they get older, but for now this laid back slow approach is what works. I hope that having parents who take time and energy to follow their specific interests, will inspire them and let them know they can do the same thing.
Key to our family goals and dreams is paying attention to what we might need to change in our family culture. Lately I’ve noticed I’m feeling bored with our normal routines. We do all sorts of things together, but I want to do a little more as a family. It would be fun to be people who travel (warm beaches, airplanes, historic cities), but we’re fairly grounded here at the moment. So, as the mom of the house and one key instigator of family adventures, I’m going to do some research and find some fun locations that are close enough for day trip or even an camping trip or too. Some mini-trips to explore our area, be together a little more, and just have fun as a family. It wouldn’t work for us to start with the big adventures other people talk about and just jump in, but we can make some change, try new spots, start small and see how it feels. Maybe it’ll be baby steps to becoming people who travel, or maybe it will start a habit of nearby adventures. Either way, it’ll be fun.
So my tips for embracing your interesting goals and dreams:
- When life gets boring or you feel stuck, try something new. Don’t assume you can’t change.
- Rethink the “when the kids are bigger” idea.
- You don’t have to wait until you can go in all at once. Try a mini-version. It can still be an adventure even if it’s a small adventure.
- Watch for when the joy sparks hit and do more of that.
- Don’t worry too much if kids seem happier with more agenda-less time. Go with it.
- It’s a gradual path of listening to what your family needs and the inclinations of everyone.
- Look for the joy, follow it.
Questions to consider in your own life:
- Are you pursuing any dreams or goals? This was key for me after a couple years of stay at home mom life.
- Who in your family needs more encouragement to pursue something interesting and worthwhile?
- Do you have a good balance of family goals and individual goals?