I so longed for a way to ease into our day. My kids are up and ready to go the moment their eyes open. Me not so much. I was struggling to find a way to fit extra things into our day. Enter “Family Time”. It sounded wonderful and I loved how it can be done at any time of day, with any age of kids, and with the whole family. While I like the idea of Family Time, (Family time, morning time, circle time, you’ve probably heard it called by many different names) I really didn’t know how I was going to incorporate it into our day with a toddler. Or at all really. Despite my apprehensions we gave it a go and its been WONDERFUL! Whether you’re a home-school, private school, or public school family this is something you’ve got to try!
My children have the ability to open their eyes and hit the ground running. (Literally running, seriously, how?) They don’t get that from me. I needed a way to wake up a bit before starting our day. Morning tends to be when our family seems to be able to focus the best so that’s where I started. As they sat eating their breakfast we began. I read and they listened. As time went on I’ve added more but we try and keep it as simple as possible.So where do you start?
Here are 3 ways to help make sure your Family Time is a success:
- What’s your goal? Why are you doing this? For our family we needed a way to start our day on the same foot (and for me to wake up before starting our day). I wanted a way to make sure we got devotions and memory work from our church program done. That is what was most important to us. If we don’t get any extra things done, that’s OK. The goal isn’t to do more (Lord knows I don’t need more to do), the goal is to connect as a family. As your family changes so may your goals. It’s a good idea to look at your goals each year to decide if your goal continues to be the same or if they have changed.
- Start with one thing. If you only get to one thing today, what would it be? Start with that. Maybe your family wants to add beautiful literature or poetry. Maybe it’s music, art, or history. The simpler you make it the better! We started with devotions and memory work for Honeygirl. We’ve slowly added other things like Spanish review and poetry. You can always add, change, and take away as your family changes.
- Stick with it. Whether you decide to make this part of your morning routine or bedtime routine (or anytime in between), give it time. If you have older children it may take sometime to get everyone on board but it is so worth the effort! After a couple weeks you may find that evenings work better than mornings or vice versa. Once you get into a routine you’ll find yourself looking forward to this time of day. Some days will be beautiful and some days will be pure craziness. Stick with it, it’s so worth it!
What it looks like: Even as we have found our rhythm with Family Time. Each day is always different! Some days we sing and dance, others they listen while they eat, play with legos or blocks, or draw. My toddler will usually listen for awhile and participate where he can, before breaking off to play quietly nearby (well as quiet as a two year old can play). Honeygirl will often bring in her pillow, favorite stuffed animal, and blanket and curl up on the floor. As long as they are listening and not distracting it’s OK. They DON’T need to be sitting perfectly still during this time. Some days go better then others, but honestly, this seems to be the calmest and my favorite part of the day. It seems we get more done on these days and do so feeling less hurried.
What we do: When we began we only did devotions and memory work. I now read a few pages from our living history book, a poem or two, and we also practice some Spanish during this time. At the end Honeygirl practices piano and I read aloud to E-MAN. As I write that all out it seems like such a long list! We really only spend a short time on each thing. (It may only take us a half an hour to get through it all, some days more, some days less.)
Keeping Track: Some people use baskets to keep track of what they are doing. Others simply leave the book they are reading at the table and read during meals. We use what is called a “work-box system” for our home school. We have been able to incorporate our “Family Time” materials with our work-box system and that seems to work well for us.
The beauty of family time is that you get to tailor it to YOUR family. It can be as complicated or as simple as you’d like it to be (please start simple). Focus on what’s important to you. The time being spent growing together as a family and connecting with your kids so invaluable. It’s fun to hear and be apart of the conversations that have come from reading and learning together. I hope that when it’s all said and done that my kids can look back at this time with fondness and smile at the memories made.