“The key is not to prioritize your schedule but to schedule your priorities.”
What’s the one thing you can do this week that will make a difference?
This was the question posed at our team meaning one afternoon. A range of answers followed, have a ‘quiet time’, exercise, eat better…all good things to do that ‘will make a difference’ and move us to thrive rather than just ‘survive.’ I remember that day well.
It was leading up to Parent-Teacher Conferences. My answer was ‘meet with parents.’ With COVID ongoing and limited parent presence on campus, I was longing for the scheduled time of connection to invigorate the partnership we share in ‘bringing up the children.’ There’s a reason these meetings are part of the rhythm of our school year. There is a reason we make them a priority. They are so much more than a discussion of growth and well-being, strengths and weaknesses. There is something beautiful about time spent face- to- face (6 ft apart, of course) discussing shared observations, enlightening confusing scenarios, chuckling over a comical situation or hearing some delightful way a student was inspired. In these moments teachers and parents alike are reminded that we are not alone. Without this relational touch point it’s all too easy to slip into the ‘daily grind’, depersonalize situations, and forget the unseen work of the Spirit among us. As a result of this time, there is renewed appreciation for the work being done on both school and home front. I left this time overwhelmed by sweet words of affirmation when a new parent quoted their child saying “I feel like I’m finally really learning!” And another mentioned it was evident that their child’s mind was being nourished given their recent conversations. I left reinspired.
This is the power of truly connecting. It’s good for our right relational brain and we are inspired. This is true whether in the teacher-parent relationship, teacher-child, parent-child, husband-wife...all relationships.
As a parent, myself, I know all too well how evening conversations in a busy week get reduced to the series of questions and one-word answers: ‘It’s time for dinner’- ‘coming.’ ‘How was school?’- ‘fine’, ‘Did you get your homework done?’-’almost’, ‘Unload the dishwasher? (grumble), ‘Better get in the shower!’ (door shuts), ‘it’s getting late!’…Time for bed, goodnight!’ It’s how we survive.
But, what if we created a ‘rhythm’ within our days that prioritized connection, face- to- face connection with those God has placed right in front of us? The ones caught in our ‘daily grind?’ Scheduled time to look another in the eye, ask meaningful questions, and truly listen? A time intended to pause and affirm the good, note effort given, or a hard thing accomplished. These are the moments that lift our spirits, cultivate joy, and spur us on. It could be as simple as a weekly ice cream date, Saturday morning pancakes, or a regular walk in the park. No frills required, just your presence.
Last year my daughter and I maintained a once a month breakfast together before school. No, it wasn’t always wrought with delightful and engaging conversation. But establishing this rhythm provided an opportunity to move beyond everyday routine, look each other in the eye and know we are not alone in the world, even if it feels like it at times.
While there are undoubtedly a multitude of ‘one things’ you could choose that will make a difference, consider creating a rhythm for intentional connection, face to face. Use this time to share praise, specific affirmation or express appreciation; a time devoid of admonishing. Ask an open-ended question and just listen. Resist the phone and other potential distractions that vie for your attention. This is one thing you can do that will make a difference.