One of my goals for my family has been that we use our afternoons in productive ways.

After our daily study time each of my children have had what we call “productive free time”.  I use the word productive instead of just “free time” because when my children think of free time they think of relaxing, doing nothing, blobbing out.   We all need a little free time during the week but I don’t believe that doing nothing all afternoon, every day is particularly helpful.  I want our children to learn to use their time wisely and by removing the expectation of free time to an expectation to be productive it has helped them make wise choices.

Generally speaking our productive free time was spent improving in areas of relationship, talents and interests.

After reading Marilyn Howshall I started thinking about this time of our day a little differently.  She often used the word “contribute” when talking about the reason why she encouraged her kids’ unique talents.

I had a quick look at the dictionary and compared the meanings of productive and contribute

Productive – having the power to produce

Contribute – to give or supply in common with others

I really like the idea of contributing – it is other’s focused; productivity by itself can be self-centred or at the least self-focused.  I enjoy sewing so I will sew.  I enjoy gardening so I will garden.  I enjoy scrapbooking so I will scrap.  And though there is a place for that, by having contributing as a foundational motivator it changes why we develop and grow in our talents. It creates a different mindset. It takes the idea of developing and growing our talents so we feel happy and fulfilled (which is valid) to a different level.  It makes developing these skills to be about how we can benefit others, not just self.

[Tweet “When we have a contributing mindset our talents are used to benefit others.”]

Contributing becomes our reason why

It reminds me of my motivation in teaching my kids to do chores

  1. It gives them the life skills to lead responsible lives
  2. It gives them the skills to care for other people

 

So the idea of contributing is a part of our family values.

In a sense this change of mindset didn’t really change what our days looked like – we continued with the idea of productive free time, using our afternoons wisely.  But our reason why started to change.

I had previously set the goal to grow and develop our kids’ unique talents in order to maximize the God given talents and interests that I see in each of my children.  In a sense it was good stewardship of the talents God has given.  I wanted to give my kids every opportunity to grow and excel in those areas.  But that is not the whole story.

Our talents are to be used.

Everything God gives us is to be used to glorify Him and love others.  This includes our specific talents.

So there is now a twofold purpose when it comes to using our afternoons in a productive way.

  1. Helping my kids recognize and develop their unique talents
  2. Helping them have a heart to use those talents to benefit others.

 

Being productive for productivity sake just creates busyness - but when we see that we can develop our skills and talents in order to bless others we have a deeper purpose.

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