One of the areas that can prove to be very difficult to find balance in, is the family. Depending on the dynamics of your family, there can be very unique challenges. My wife and I were married fairly young, and as we set off to start our lives together moving across the country to attend seminary, we had a surprise awaiting us. After our fabulous 5 week roadtrip excursion we landed in our small, unfurnished apartment outside of Boston with a pregnancy test that said Jenelle had gotten pregnant on our honeymoon! The Lord did not consult with us before allowing this. Fast forward three years and my wife was pregnant with our third child! She was 26 years old at the time, and we were feeling overwhelmed with the responsibilities of a young family, full-time ministry and health challenges. From this abrupt entry into family life, Jenelle and I have always had to be very intentional about having a weekly date night. On Fridays we drop the kids off with a friend, or usually their grandparents, and head out for some adult time. Dinner, movies, books, art, friends, coffee... stuff like that. It gives us a chance to invest in our relationship apart from the kids, and it ensures that we are able to give the children the #1 thing they need in their lives, happily married parents.
Now, obviously this doesn't apply to single parents, but for single parents, it is important that in your weekly rhythms that you have a standing, weekly time in which you are able to connect with other adults and to enjoy yourself apart from the kids. You will actually be a better parent when you are establishing balance in your social life in this way. Your kids need a model of someone who has a balanced social life.
Another important aspect of balance in the family has to do with spending enough time at work to pay the bills, while spending enough time at home to have a quality relationship with your children. In a commuting valley this can be a challenge. If you are stuck in a situation that keeps you away from your children for more than 50+ hours per week this is certainly an area for prayer and growth. Life is more enjoyable, and I would argue, more holy, when you are able to find a work/family balance. In my family this means that for the majority of the week we are able to sit down to the dinner table together, by about 6pm to share a meal and to talk about our day. This time isn't rushed, and the TV isn't on. We either tell the stories of our day, from beginning to end, or we ask some strategic questions such as 'What did you love or learn today?' and 'What was your biggest challenge?' It is a chance to connect in a safe space, and even the six year-olds will get with it if it is consistent and modeled for them by others.
Balance in the family changes with different seasons, such as when the kids have left the home. But an effort to prioritize these familial relations continues to bear fruit own whole lives through.
Author: Cameron Lemons
Reflections from the pastor