A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to give a presentation to our church’s women’s organization, the topic, meals for busy families. A couple of concerns popped into my head right away. First, my audience was going to be diverse — women who were married with children, single moms, women that weren’t married and women whose children had all flown the coop. My second concern was that we don’t really eat like mainstream America. We make almost everything from scratch and that takes time. I had a feeling they were looking for something more along the lines of quick and easy meals. The only super fast meal we eat around here is grilled cheese and peas. Everything else takes time and that’s just the reality. So I began to think, and think, and think. Thankfully, a loving Heavenly Father helped me out with this one. My thoughts were continually directed back to the whole idea of busyness. Joshua shared some great insights on his blog, becoming minimalist that I really liked.
As I continued to prepare, I felt prompted to share our family’s experience with busyness. For the last year or so, Greg and I have really felt the Spirit working on us to change some of our family dynamics. We were simply too busy. Being anxiously engaged in a good cause has its limits. We had reached ours and our family was paying the price. I don’t think that our situation was an isolated one. In fact, I know it wasn’t as many talks on this subject have been given in General Conference in recent years. Here’s just a taste of what the Lord has been telling us.
From President Dieter F. Uchdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency
“One of the characteristics of modern life seems to be that we are moving at an ever-increasing rate, regardless of turbulence or obstacles.
Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives.
It is said that any virtue when taken to an extreme can become a vice. Overscheduling our days would certainly qualify for this. There comes a point where milestones can become millstones and ambitions, albatrosses around our necks…”
“Since ‘no other success can compensate for failure’ [in the home], we must place high priority on our families. We build deep and loving family relationships by doing simple things together, like family dinner and family home evening and by just having fun together. In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time. Taking time for each other is the key for harmony at home. We talk with, rather than about, each other. We learn from each other, and we appreciate our differences as well as our commonalities.” To hear the whole talk (it’s really good) click below.
And from Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Quorum of the Twelve
“We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families.
“Family experts have warned against what they call ‘the overscheduling of children.’ In the last generation children are far busier and families spend far less time together.
“The number of those who report that their “whole family usually eats dinner together” has declined 33 percent. This is most concerning because the time a family spends together “eating meals at home [is] the strongest predictor of children’s academic achievement and psychological adjustment.” Family mealtimes have also been shown to be a strong bulwark against children’s smoking, drinking, or using drugs. There is inspired wisdom in this advice to parents: what your children really want for dinner is you.”
Greg and I decided it was time to move family mealtimes into the best category. We were pretty good at getting everyone together, but pretty good wasn’t good enough anymore; so we made some changes. I’ll share those changes with you in another post — this one is getting pretty long, and there’s plenty to think about.