I’ve been thinking about time a lot lately.
Time flies. Time-out. In the nick of time. Running out of time. As time goes by. Time keeps on ticking, ticking ticking… into the future.
The older I get the more I crave time with the people I love, doing things together without feeling pressed for time. Time is precious.
Let’s face it: We live in a fast-paced, overscheduled society. My kids would be shocked if they took a step back in time to when I was a teenager. There certainly was much more time to do homework, call friends, eat dinner as a family or just relax and read or just think. In our house these days, a typical week flies by at breakneck speed, with very little time for anyone to enjoy each other’s company.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if families could always have one of the weekend days free to do as they pleased without any scheduled activities on the calendar? What would happen if stores were closed on Sunday as they were when I was a child? Imagine if all kids’ sports teams played on Saturdays but never on Sundays. Isn’t Sunday supposed to be a day of rest anyways? A whole day of time-out is my fantasy. Could it ever happen?
Maybe I’m craving this time because my family is like most other families, racing around town from soccer field to hockey rink to Stop & Shop and to a million other local places for meetings and activities. We have too much on our plates. But maybe I’m wishing for more time because reality is setting in: The teenage years are fleeting and before I know it my teenagers will be grown up and gone. Poof!
This weekend I put my foot down and convinced my youngest child it would be okay (really!) to miss her weekly soccer game so our family could venture into Boston for the Red Sox World Series celebratory parade. It was a perfect day and a perfect decision. The warm sun and bright, beautiful foliage made Boston even more spectacular for cheering on our World Series champions. But in my opinion, it was several hours of being together as a family, without needing to rush back for anything in particular, that made this day so special. Time is precious and we welcomed having it with each other.
We do what we can to carve out family time. Birthdays are important to us, for example. Finding a time to gather with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins to share a meal or sing Happy Birthday used to be easy when the kids were little. Sometimes family time just has to come in shifts. People come early or come late. People miss each other altogether. Some of the aunts and uncles live out of state and we can only see them on some of the holidays. We take what we can get. The upside to modern day living is that we can always rely on photos, videos and Facetime to stay connected with our extended family if we can’t all be together.
One of my most treasured memories will always be our recent trip to San Francisco to visit my brother and his partner. All of us (including my mom who came with us) agree that the joy we felt on this trip exceeded even our two vacations to Disney World. I never thought Disney could take a back seat to any destination. It boils down to this: Teens undoubtedly need to spend time with their peers, but they also need the love and stability that comes with spending time with their families. Getting away from the local town and the excessive pace of everyday life, — for just a few hours or in this case, ten days — can help a family like ours slow down, regroup and enjoy a kind of magic that doesn’t have to include long lines and exciting rides.
For us, it included a lot of laughs and breathtaking views of places we will never forget. — San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Sonoma, and Yosemite National Park — with two of our favorite family members as our knowledgeable tour guides. It was the trip of a lifetime for us that we will always cherish through pictures and memories. How can you beat that?
Time is precious. Kids grow up quickly. Carving out time to be together is hard to do but essential. We may never again see stores closed on Sundays. We may never have a day that is completely free of scheduled activities. But once in a while I say a family time-out has to be non-negotiable.