My friend Ashley Goff is a part-time pastor with three kids, just as I am. When her youngest entered school last year, a friend suggested that she try to spend 15 uninterrupted minutes with each kid when they get home. Let the child decide what she wants to do---talk, read a book, play a game. The point is time together without distractions, smartphones, dinner preparation, etc. This puts a bit of structure around the afternoon chaos of snacks/homework/activities/plaintive requests to play on the iPad.
I filed that suggestion away for this year, with all three kids in school. Count me a fan of the 15 minute kid check-in.
OK, we've done it twice since school started.
But both times were great!
James has a little trouble when it's not his turn, but he's learning. I'm also learning how to deal with three kids at home in the afternoons, often while I'm trying to finish up the day's work. I realized that when the kids get home I'm often hurriedly trying to finish one more email, etc., and I end up putting them off with a "just a minute, just a minute." But by focusing on them as soon as they get home, it gives them a "shot of mommy" so that if I need to, I can go back to the home office and tie up any loose ends more easily.
Ashley's parenting hack would work as a way of approaching Sabbath too. Sometimes, an uninterrupted day of rest is not possible. (Our Sabbath this weekend was about four hours on Saturday morning). But how about carving out a little time for each person in your family (or spouse, or group of friends) during a weekend? In this way Sabbath becomes a series of intentional encounters---free of phones and other distractions, driven by connection, mutual fun and delight---that weave into a busy weekend.
Reminder: Have you entered the contest for a Sabbath Book Group Study Pack yet? Deadline is Wednesday. Here are details.