"Let's do this again."
Those words, printed on a packet of Taco Bell mild sauce, fit the evening like a glove. The unusually cool weather had beckoned our family outdoors. Hurricane Irma was headed our way, but on this night before her arrival, everything was still. Even the mosquitoes stayed away.
I sat on a picnic blanket in our backyard, surrounded by my four favorite people. Because I was too tired to cook, we had picked up tacos and brought them back home.
After enjoying our fast-food dinner, my husband and kids spent the next half hour playing Frisbee and catch. I snuggled my preschooler in our oversized rocking chair.
From inside the house, I could almost hear the sink of dirty dishes calling my name. I could envision the messes trailing from one end of our home to the other. Nearly every room held piles of clothing, the changing of seasons well underway.
A tidy house is important to me. Clutter drives me crazy—though you might never guess if you stop by unannounced.
Trouble is, the work in our homes is never quite done.
As soon as we eat a meal, there are dishes to be washed. By getting dressed every day, we perpetuate the endless cycle of laundry. And the papers that inundate us on a daily basis? Well, maybe someday I'll learn how to keep them in check.
Managing our homes and caring for our families takes a lot of time and effort—there's just no way around it.
But sometimes, the work can wait.
Because there are memories to be made, Frisbee games to watch and preschoolers to hold close.
This is the real stuff of parenting. It's what our kids will remember. This is the blessing of family.
That night holds a sweet spot in my heart. It was far from Pinterest-perfect. No gourmet dinner—just Taco Bell. No fancy picnic blanket— just a worn-out old comforter. Nothing but water to drink. Fast, inexpensive and easy.
But we enjoyed each other and the life we share. We slowed down. We left our devices inside. And we reveled in the delight of being a family.
Our busy, schedule-driven lives often squeeze out true living. We must be intentional if we're to savor these 18 years we have with our children. Here are some ways we can maximize the time we have:
- Play together.
- Read books as a family.
- Look our kids in the eyes and let our faces show we delight in them.
- Use mealtimes as opportunities for engaging our children's hearts.
- Take nature walks and impromptu trips to the park.
- Let our little ones help in the kitchen. (And remember, there's not much a good rag or a mop can't clean up!)
Let's take time to treasure the beauty of togetherness. Let's enjoy each other and make room for real living. In the words of a Taco Bell sauce packet, "Let's do this again." And again. And again.
Meredith Mills is a wife and mother to three inquisitive, adventurous, fun-loving kids. She loves finding Jesus in the everyday and is passionate about helping others experience Him, too. She contributes monthly to www.Just18Summers.com and she blogs at www.DazzledByTheSon.wordpress.com.
This article originally appeared at www.just18summers.com.