The time has definitely come.. for some structure in the Cole Family. But first, a little background.
For most of my employed and self-employed life, I’ve been in roles that do not demand that I be in an office, or “on location” on a regimented schedule. It’s really the way I would prefer it, but that’s a “whole ‘nuther topic!” When you combine somewhat of a lack of self discipline in the past, with a flexable working arrangement, it tends to default to a rather un-structured result. Sprinkle in a little of the “night-owl-ness” and, well, I think you begin to see the total effect.
That result is not the best formula for creating a stable family environment, where mom has security, and the kids have positive things they can count on – nevermind the benefits to me personally! I’m fairly convinced that many of us have the awareness of what the needs of our family are that create this zone of safety, but in the busy, plate-spinning world that we live in, we often don’t truly have (make) the time to set up a dependable structure. There are those families that do have this – I’ve seen you throughout the years, and have envied you; I’ve wanted what you have, wanted it for my family, I’ve just not seen how I could get it. Truth is, God had to clear out the underbrush in my life, and make space for thoughts like this to even be processed. Actually, as I write this, there’s even a deeper truth that comes out for me… I wanted it, and may have even had the ability to implement some level of it, but like so many other things that I wanted for my life, it scared me to death.
The other little realization that has been top of mind for us lately is that the ‘kid collective” is not the same person as the “kid individual.” Seems simple enough, but in practice I think we often treat them as the same, or we think we can penetrate the “kid collective” to get to the “kid individual.” Does not really work that well for me.
Getting to this point has truly been another chapter in my ‘walk’ with God (See earlier blog posts.) Even as recent as a couple of moths ago, a hard schedule could feel a bit like a jail sentence. This, I have come to learn, is not a result of me disliking structure, but in reality was based on the fact that in order to implement structure, I had to let go of some things. And truly, in the past I was just not ready to let go of them. Man, if we would just be honest with ourselves how much pain we could prevent in our lives, and the lives of those that we love.
Well the message came loud and clear – it’s time for structure.
I heard the call, and drafted an awesome schedule for the family. Please consider the true definition of awesome here; “extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear.” I scared myself a little, but after some back and fourth refining with Kim, we presented it to the kids on Saturday. Oh, to share the look on their faces.. they read like “Oh Dad and Mom, we have wanted this for SO LONG! Thank you!” Just like Jesus; no condemnation, just praise for getting to that place. I truly did not think the kids would so outwardly show their joy for this.
So, for accountability sake, I share the new framework with you here. If you are lacking a little structure, please consider creating something similar with your family. Will we meet this 100% of the time? Not a chance. Will Kim and I uphold this together, and do our best to collectively agree to any changes? Now you’re talking! You can do it… And if you do, please post back here with the results you’ve seen in your family, in 3 days, the effect on the Cole Family has been nothing short of dramatic. It’s the little stuff that can make the huge differences.
Cole-Family Weekly Schedule
Monday – Wednesday: Dad makes breakfast (early!)
Monday – Mom’s One on One with a child (rotates each week thru the 3 kids)
Thursday – Dad’s One on One with a child (rotates each week thru the 3 kids)
First Friday of Every Month – Mom & Dad’s Date Night (can I hear “Amen?”)
Saturday AM – Family Breakfast Out (One family member each week chooses the locale – this also replaces any weekday ad-hoc dinners out that generally start with “what should I make for dinner” and end with “where should we go?” Dave Ramsey would be proud…
Saturday PM – Family Fun Night – One family member each week chooses the activity, either playing games or watching movies – and of course, pizza, and popcorn! (We have agreed to keep at least two of these a month as sacred, allowing other Saturday evenings for other events.)
So is it working?????
It is indeed! The kids love the structure.. The most difficult thing to get implemented is the evening part, where Kim and I are “lights out” by 10pm, but we’re getting closer!