How many hours a day would you say you spend thinking about the “perfect life”?
One? Two? Twenty-two?
Now, thanks to social media, we have access twenty-four seven to all the “perfect” ways our friends are living their best lives and we are able to compare our mediocre existence to theirs.
Social media. The double-edged sword.
On the one hand, it’s so nice to be able to keep up with friends and family. It’s nice to be able to see the adventures they are taking, the new things they are trying and the ways their families and growing and changing.
On the other hand, it’s also a breeding ground for jealousy, dissatisfaction and restlessness.
I’ve determined there are no honest Instagram or Facebook accounts out there. Not for lack of trying. But unless you are going to film your life every hour of the day, it would be hard to capture all the ups, downs and messy moments that create the beautiful thing we call life.
But what would life look like if we spent a little less time on our phones, tablets or computers and a bit more time emphasizing the subtle moments in our own families?
I am definitely not sitting here claiming to be an expert on the subject of intentional living. However, I can tell you that it is something that has come to mean a lot to my family this year.
We’ve come up with three things that are important for us as we try to live with intention.
Build a community
This is a big one. I think the pandemic gave us a glimpse into the importance of community in our lives and how we suffer without it.
We live in an individualistic society and yet I’m more convinced than ever we have been created for community with others.
As important as this one is, it’s also one of the hardest things to actually execute.
My husband is an introvert working in an extrovert job so it’s a sacrifice for him to give up one of his days off to be with other people intentionally.
It’s a sacrifice for me because usually by the end of the week I’m exhausted running the girls’ places, watching my sister’s kids, keeping the house clean, cooking meals and the list goes on. I don’t usually want to host other people in my home. (Sometimes I don’t even want to host my kids in my home).
Most of the time I want to curl up with my book, my journal or my sketch pad and spend some time to myself.
But every time we, as a family, have made the decision to set aside our own interests to build community with others we have been deeply blessed. We are encouraged. We laugh. And I love watching my girls respond as other adults speak truth into their lives.
ACTION ITEM: find a way this week to open your home or intentionally spend time with someone. Invite a family over for lunch, meet a friend and her kids at the park or hire a babysitter and get away on a double date. Whatever it looks like do it with the intention of building friendships.
There are so many times I have said, “let’s make sure to do that” and weeks/months/years later I look back and realize we never did it.
One of those things is to travel and have experiences with my girls. Travel was a big thing for me growing up and it’s something I’ve always talked about wanting to do with the girls too. But life is busy. SOOOO busy.
And it’s easy to find myself filling the calendar with dance classes, school trips and, yes, even dinner parties with friends. It’s all about balance.
One thing my hubby and I have been trying to be more intentional about is finding a weekend every couple of months for our little family to get away, unplug and connect.
This means I look at our schedules, find a weekend and book in advance. It means once it is on the calendar it is set in stone, and we do what we need to protect that time.
Hubby takes time off work (if necessary), the girls and I turn down activities with friends or commitments to sports etc. We plan simple meals, so no one is spending the weekend in the kitchen, and we find a place a couple hours outside of town to escape to.
For us, because of my husband’s job, it’s only a two-day thing. But you could easily make your trip longer if you have the time.
The first time we did this I found a cute cabin through VRBO and we loved exploring the surrounding area, making smores over a campfire and playing candyland.
This next month, we are headed two hours north of here to enjoy a tiny cabin (I am SO excited about this) and to do some hiking. I’ll let you know how it goes.
ACTION ITEM: Be bold and book in advance. Don’t worry that something better will come up because I promise, this time with your family IS the something better. You’ll create memories that you will all cherish. Check out rentals through VRBO, Airbnb or even ask to borrow a friend’s camper/cabin. It doesn’t have to be extravagant to be meaningful. You just need to do it.
This is the hardest one to do. Not because my family is addicted to our technology because I don’t think we are.
This one is hard because we’ve made our cell phones the only way to get a hold of my husband and myself.
And because I realized I have some FOMO.
It’s crazy how quickly we develop a habit of taping our phones or checking the messages. Even when we don’t actually care who is on the other end.
Did you know iPhone users touch their phones on average 2000 times a day?
That’s crazy talk.
And also, not how I want to raise my kids.
I’ve been candid about how we are minimizing tv at our house because we want to lead fuller lives. And because my kids behave a whole lot better when they haven’t been attached to the screen.
But phones. That’s a tougher one. Some of the things we are doing in our home:
-I don’t sleep with the phone next to my bed anymore. I turn the volume on (in case there is an emergency) and I plug it into the kitchen charger.
-When we go on our family getaways Jon and I try and unplug as much as we can. Put the phone away and don’t even take photos. We just want to be present with the girls.
That’s it. Like I said, there is progress to be made here but we’re taking baby steps and overtime they will spiral into something that resembles a life on our terms instead of being controlled by our gadgets.
ACTION ITEM: Find small ways your family can put the phone away during the day. Maybe it’s putting it in a drawer when you get home from work and not taking it out until the kids are in bed. Or maybe, you ban them from the dinner table. Whatever you decide, start big, start small but just start.
There are so many other things that you can do to live a more restful, fuller and intentional life. The three listed in this blog post are just a few of the ways my family is looking to re-write the rules for how we live.
It’s a lot of work but it’s worth it.
Does your family do anything to slow down or spend more time together? Leave a message in the comments below.