There are times that I just need to close the door and not be interrupted and get things done!!

When my children were young I had them have a nap, or room time every day after lunch.  This gave me one hour of uninterrupted time.  Generally I spent that time on reading or craft but if I needed time to work on a project that was the time I had.  The children also went to bed at 7.30pm which gave me a good hour to focus on things before I shut down myself.

Things are different now with older children!  They no longer nap and they go to bed much later – later than me sometimes!!

I have this idea that we should be able to have an hour of reading after lunch and that would be my 1 hour of uninterrupted time.  But it never happens.  With the comings and goings of an older family though we may all have some reading time, it rarely all happens at the same time.  This is the major difference between having older children and younger children in the family.  When my kids were young we all did the same thing at the same time – even if it was by ourselves.  Nowadays, everyone has different schedules, different commitments and life is a little bit crazy at times.

But I still need that uninterrupted time where I can focus on my projects.

I have tried putting a sign on the door.  I like my sign:  “Stop – Think” .  This is to prompt my kids when they go to knock on my door – do I really need to interrupt mum right now?  Sometimes they can sort it out by themselves, sometimes they still need me.

Yesterday I remembered a training strategy I used to use when the kids were young.  I suddenly saw that this is the answer even with my older kids.     The key is:  Prepare them to be independent.

It goes like this:

  • Spend time with them, inspire them, organise them, set them ready to go
  • Then leave them to do their thing, and you do your thing
  • Then come back, see how they are going, affirm them, and prepare them for another block of independent time.
  • Keep repeating  (not all day, but kids can handle a couple of rotations like this)

When my kids were young I would give them 10min of my time, for 10minutes of independent time.  We would do this back and forth for about 1 hour.  As their ability to work or play by themselves strengthened I could give them 10minutes for 30minutes of independent time.  What I suddenly saw yesterday is that this needs to happen even with older children.  If I was to give them 10min of my attention, they could occupy themselves, easily for 1 hour, if not a bit more.  When we think about it – if I was to leave my children at home (they are old enough for this), I would make sure they were set up to be productive for the time I was away.  Being in the office is no different.

One of the things that I let annoy me is that I know my kids can occupy themselves for a whole day if I leave the house.  Why then do they need me so much just because I’m in the office!!  The whole idea of discipling our children is that I am there for them.  So the frustration that comes when my child interrupts me is inconsistent with my very beliefs.  But I do need to get things done!   (Do you see my tension!)

Like so many quandaries we face as parents, this is simply a situation that needs training.  So today, before I go to the office I am going to visit with each of my children and ensure that they are okay for the next hour or so.  I’ll start with the oldest and check in with each of them.    I know that we will talk about their to-do list, someone may need my help in understanding directions for a project, they may need me to help them choose their next reading book, or discuss an assignment question, or  they may be struggling with math that I need to help them with.  To be honest, I don’t have the freedom to work on my other projects until my kids are sorted.

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 Every week I'll email an encouragement to stay intentional and relational in all your family life.  But for now, download your set of reminder posters - posters which I've used over the years to remind me to keep my eyes and heart on what is important.

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