In November I was able to attend Time Out for Women with my Mom. One of the people who spoke was a daughter of Linda Eyre (Linda, with her husband, created Joy School and they have written 9 books on parenting). This daughter's name is Shawni and she mentioned that she liked the word deliberate (doing things on purpose). She likes to think of parenting deliberately -- and living our lives in a deliberate fashion. I have thought about this quite a lot. What do I want my children to know? Am I doing enough things deliberately to make sure they learn them?
The more I thought, the more I figured that there had to be some small changes that we could make that would make a big difference. I was particularly focused on the Sabbath Day. Derek and I talked about it and we decided to implement an idea that I heard first from Shawni and her Mom. We adjusted the idea to fit our schedule and then added to it. The idea is to have a family testimony meeting right after church on Fast Sundays (which for those belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is usually the first Sunday of the month). We decided that since our church started later, we would have our meeting before church. We have only done it once so far, and Derek spent a bit of time instructing us on what a testimony is and what things can or should be included. Derek began and then we started with Dan and went up in age until I finished up. I loved it. I feel like this will give our children the opportunity to think about and share their testimonies 12 times this year when they may have only shared it once, if at all, during a regular year at church.
We wanted to make every Sunday a little better and so on other Sundays we have half hour meetings too. These are our "half hour of service". That is about as long as we can expect Dan to pay attention and there is plenty of time to write letters to missionaries, or encouraging notes to people who need them, or whatever it is that we come up with. So far we have been able to think of something for every week without trouble and, for the most part, it has gone well.
When I was sharing these ideas with my visiting teachers one of them shared with me a way that she and her husband had decided to spend their evenings better. They felt like, because they didn't plan them out, they were usually wasted. They wanted to be more careful and choose how they spent their time. They figured they had to plan in advance or it wouldn't happen because they would be too tired. In other words, they decided to be more deliberate. They negotiated different activities. They still have one movie night when they can just sit and watch television. They have a dance night and a game night. He agreed to learn to dance at home with a dvd if she'd have a game night with him. They also have a night they read together. She feels like it has made a big difference to them.
There are a lot of good ideas, and a lot of ways to choose to spend our time. Our Sunday ideas would not have worked for me when Derek was Bishop. I would have felt too overwhelmed. I did not want another thing to be in charge of on Sunday. The ideas my friend uses in the evening work well for her because her kids go to bed by 8 every night. That doesn't mean I couldn't use my evenings better but it might work better for me to choose different activities!
Other things that we've enjoyed are having each of the kids (except Dan) have a Sunday to cook. All of the children also have a family home evening that they are in charge of. Putting this on the calendar helps them know it is coming and having them in charge is great for me! As I go through my days I am trying hard to live my life in a deliberately good and happy way.