It’s that time of year—your kids are out of school for an entire week! And you may find yourself assessing the damage that can be done… Just kidding. But you are likely sending them off for an excursion, taking them on an excursion, or staying home and creating an excursion. I remember well the spring breaks of my youth, and I only wish we could have spring break (and nap time) as adults. When I was growing up, we packed an old motor home and headed to a state park about three hours from home. Attached to that orange and brown R.V. was a hefty car, towed behind that we affectionately called “The Blue Bomber”—perfect for the many messes we would create. From early morning fishing to stops for ice cream at the corner store, my dad loaded the kids in the car and made memories I hope to one day have with my own children.
My parents worked outside the home—more than full time. Both were physicians and in practice together. Their jobs never ended. When my mom and dad weren’t physically at their office, one (if not both) would be at the hospital, nursing home, or definitely conversing about all things medical around the dinner table. While my parents worked incredibly hard, during the rare times we played (like spring break), they made certain we played hard. The result is my excitement to give my children the same attention and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants fun my parents gave us. Now, I know times were different in the great long ago known as the 80’s, but I believe wholeheartedly that families can choose to focus on their primary job to parent intentionally. How can we do this in a world that thinks we should be all things to all people all of the time?
For starters, we need to keep our eyes on the long-term, parenting prize and that is a flourishing love for Jesus and in turn, others. Practically, let’s show them our love by turning off the phone. That’s right—turn the thing off. There once was a time when people weren’t accessible to their bosses or buddies 24 hours per day. It simply didn’t happen. Sadly, many moms and dads now feel like their jobs (and friends) must follow them to the dinner table, restroom, and even spring break. The emails can wait, my friends—but our families cannot. When we are staring at a device, we are not looking at eyes that need us to meet them in this moment.
Speaking of the moment, be 100% in the moment. That means no Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. until after the day is done and the family has gotten all of you all day long. We live in such a “share now” world that we take pictures with our phones instead of capturing them in our hearts. I don’t need a lecture on the importance of pictures—I am an avid believer in in photography (especially the old-school kind without an instant app upload). Your friends, family, and coworkers can wait to see the adventures, but your family cannot wait to see what you look like without a smart phone or smart watch vying for your attention. We all know what it’s like to speak to another adult while feeling less than important because something on their phone is capturing their attention. I know what it feels like to play second fiddle to a phone, and that’s a feeling I don’t want my children to know—at least not due to my choices.
Our kids are growing up in a generation that doesn’t know you can find answers to your questions through something other than a voice prompt. Would you believe I recently read that many children are actually now speaking in monotone voices because they spend more time learning from a screen than they do learning from communicating with other humans? God did not make us to isolate ourselves on the internet, but to have functioning relationships with the people He made in His image. Spring break is the perfect opportunity to toss your trinkets aside and treat your children as though they are the most important treasures in your life. If we don’t want our children vegging out in front of video games all the time, I feel certain they don’t want us sucked into the social media abyss all the time. The simple fact is this: time is precious, time is fleeting, and with whatever time we are given, we should choose to give our families not the stale leftovers, but the full meal deal. There is no better time than the present to tune out and tune in. Tune out the pressures of the world and tune in to what God is doing and desires to do in your family. You get the beautiful “job” of creating memories they will treasure all their days.
Thank you, Jesus, for our families and for choosing us to parent the people you’ve put in our homes.
Gabbie Nolen-Fratantoni loves Jesus and is passionate about serving him through the arts by leading worship and writing for various ministries. She is married to Greg, her hard-working, iron-sharpening-iron spouse. They are opposite in personality but equal in dedication to their marriage and family. Gabbie and Greg are the proud and sleep-deprived parents of two active, sweet, and fun boys and are eagerly anticipating the arrival of their first daughter in March 2016. An Aggie and graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, Gabbie is a small-town country girl trapped in the city and loves getting to know people and encouraging them as they seek to know Jesus and make him known.
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