Guarding your time

There are many advantages to teaching the Faith at home, but one of the challenges is all the potential distraction.  The phone,  the television, the neighbor kids, that load of laundry you wanted to finish, the dog that needs to go out, the homework that really needs to be done tonight, the toddler who just chewed up your green crayon (now how are you supposed to color the Ordinary Time page?) … you get the idea!

Family life is messy and despite our best efforts, it rarely runs as smoothly as we’d like.  And while that may seem like a negative, it actually teaches a great truth.  Our Christian faith is not to be saved for perfect conditions.  It’s not reserved for an hour a week when we’re dressed up for Mass and (hopefully) well-behaved, and it’s really not reserved for those who have it all together.  Saint Paul tells us that the prize goes to those who persevere and with that in mind, I’d like to share a few ideas to help you guard your time:
  • Set a regular time for Home Lessons and don’t let anything short of an emergency get in the way.  If you were doing the traditional Wednesday night parish program, you would be there when scheduled.  Just treat your Home Lesson time with the same commitment.
  • Work with your family to decide on this time together and make sure everyone has input.  It will help everyone take ownership of this time if you make the commitment together.
  • Actually write the dates on your calendar.  It makes it seem more official.
  • Resolve to not answer the phone or the doorbell, and even family members who are not of Family Formation age should be able to do without the television for this one hour each week.

And once you’ve minimized the physical distractions, it’s also helpful to work on the mental distractions.  Establish some traditions that will help your family transition out of “home time” and into “lesson time.”

  • For example, you may want to start each Home Lesson time with a few praise songs and end with dessert.
  • You may want to start with a prayer asking for God’s blessing as you learn together and end with another one thanking Him for the time together.
  • I know of several families who mark their lesson time by lighting a candle on their prayer table and blowing it out when they’re done.  These bookend traditions are good ways to set boundaries and minimize anyone asking “are we done yet?”

No matter what your pattern, establishing traditions and being consistent are guaranteed ways to make your Home Lesson time more effective and peaceful.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.
2 Timothy 4:7

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