What is your favorite thing to do with the family?
Brylee: "Um, painting."
Daniel: "Hang out. With the family."
Ian: "House. Mommy and daddy house." (He has a big proud grin that I asked him, too, and he answered.)
Brylee: "Okay, now ask me again!"
Me: "Brylee, what's your favorite thing to do with the family?"
Brylee: "Play games! Like hide-and-seek!"
I know, these answers aren't very insightful. I did put my family on the spot, after all.
But that moment perfectly exemplified quality family time. Yes, in a car on our way to run a couple errands together before Daniel leaves town for a few days. Sometimes, we each space out in those moments. But other times, like that moment, we take the opportunity to engage.
The kids tell knock-knock jokes for days. (Ian's not so bad with the jokes himself.) Sometimes I interject asking for each person's input on their favorite fill-in-the-blank or what they love most about this-or-that. Daniel and I point out houses or yards we do or don't like, and dream together. (The kids have started speculating on houses we pass, which most likely explains Ian's answer above.)
Whether we're out running errands, playing at our nearby playground, or lazing around the house, our favorite family moments are all similar in that they're simple. We laugh with each other, or exhaustively tolerate each other. We give eye contact to show we're listening, or physical contact in the form of hugs, cuddles or wrestles.
It happens when we simply eat lunch together when Daniel's in town (our family "dinner" of the day). It happens when we sing "I'm too young" and pray together before the kids go to bed. And when we do chores together and Daniel turns it into a game or competition.
Togetherness happens when we enjoy a Sabbath afternoon nature documentary or visit the bison. Or when we have a family date night that simply means we skip the gym and spend an hour together before the kids go to bed. It even happens when we make errands an opportunity to talk and enjoy each other's company.
Brylee shares things she's learning, Ian acts as Brylee's shadow evoking a few laughs from us, and Daniel and I get to relax and soak in the moment.
It's almost never anything fancy (unless we're inspired to create a brown bag date night, dress up the living room with white lights for pizza night, or unleash our inner child for a theme). Other than those few themed family date nights, I can count on one hand the times we've painted together, did pre-planned Easter-countdown worships, and went "all out" for family time.
Sure, I sometimes wish we did that more. If only there were enough energy, creativity, and motivation in me to do so.
But the moments that have really mattered, are the recurring ones. The ones so simple, easy, natural that they didn't take any additional planning or creativity or time on Pinterest.
All they require is simply... us.
Our time. Attention. Our personalities and presence. In this moment, together.
And that is our family time, simplified.
This month I'm sharing encouragement for simplicity simplified. See full list of posts here, and join me in not over-thinking it.