I’m talking to some parents today. A lot of my clients are entrepreneurs, parents, and really growth minded people. I am talking to the parents who want to be great parents, but they might be going through a difficult season. Maybe you’ve got teenagers, maybe you’ve got toddlers, or maybe you’re just having some struggles, or whatever it might be. The question you might be asking yourself is one I have heard pretty often, How do I not kill my kids? How do I get through this phase right now without murdering one of my children?
And honestly, I’ve been there. Here’s the thing… you have been in those moments where there’s a loving well-meaning person and they attempt to encourage you and they say, “Hey, it’s just a phase; you can get through this.” It’s. Just. A. Phase. Like, when you have a newborn and they might have acid reflux and cry for the first six months of their lives. Or maybe it is the toddler phase with those random fits at the grocery store and then it goes into full blown tantrum and you know… everyone is watching you and judging you because they’re throwing their tantrums. Then that old lady, the grandma comes by and says, “Honey, don’t worry. It is okay; it is just a phase.” Or maybe it is the teenage phase where your kid “doesn’t like you” and you know because they tell you regularly that they hate you. And then you reach out to your own parents, tell them what is going on and they tell you, it is just a phase.
They remember. Remember the point that you were brought into this world and that you needed them. And you see that in your own children: they need you. You remember those first moments of holding them. But here’s the problem with, “It’s just a phase.” It is true, but here’s the real danger. If we live in the place of, “It’s just a phase,” we might miss those opportunities to treasure all the moments in all the phases. Time flies and you don’t want to miss it, you’ve heard people say it… “You’re going to blink and they are going to be all grown up, graduated, walking down the aisle, getting married.” It is all true. TRUE.
It is so hard to wrap our heads around just how quickly the phases go and so I want to give you a quick little illustration that I am borrowing. There’s a great book by a guy named Reggie Joiner called Playing for Keeps/Losing Your Marbles. He’s also got another book called, It’s Just a Phase So Don’t Miss It. But just imagine with me, there is a jar with 486 marbles… these marbles represent the number of weeks from the point that you bring your adorable baby home from the hospital until high school graduation. 486, that seems like a lot of marbles… but sometimes we don’t realize just how quickly it all flies by because if you assume that your child is 9… you’ve already lost half of those marbles in the jar. And time continues to fly by and it is time for them to get their license, if you think about it at that point they only have a few more family vacations until they move out.
You know they are eventually supposed to do that, right? We are supposed to move out, they’ll eventually do the same. When they move out, you’ll still be connected and they’ll come home; especially in college for food and laundry. So make sure you provide that for them, because it will never be the same. You won’t get those kinds of moments, like that same amount of closeness of them living under your roof, doing the drive time and sitting in the car… you don’t get to do it over. You never get these moments back.
I’m not trying to discourage you or depress you. What I am trying to do is say, Hey, if you’ve been asking yourself how do I not kill my kid, then maybe it is time to shift your perspective and say it is just a phase. It’s true, you will survive it. WHAT IF YOU STARTED LOOKING FOR THE OPPORTUNITIES IN THOSE PHASES? Even the one where you’re trying not to kill them, say instead: HOW CAN I MAKE THIS MARBLE COUNT? I mean if you could hear all of this and make that sudden shift to become more intentional, let me give you real practical application of this.
The biggest thing you can do to make every marble count is to become intentional with your time. Because when you think about the different stages; infancy feels like you get 24 hours a day with them, especially when they don’t sleep. But when they are a toddler, you get a good 12 hours with them. And then they go off to elementary school and as a dad or a mom you get them maybe six hours of awake time with them… then when they are in high school and doing all those things on their own, you feel lucky to have 30 minutes with your kids. I think about when they start driving themselves and then that is even more time you used to have with them.
Again, I am not trying to overwhelm you, but how do you make every marble count in every phase that you go through with your kids? Simple, all you need is a strategy and I am going to give you some questions to help you create your strategy.
FOUR QUESTIONS TO MAKE YOUR MARBLES COUNT
- What are the times we are going to spend together each day?
Maybe it is drive time in the morning, bathtime in the evening, feeding/meal time. Maybe asking this question makes you realize there is not enough time to see them during the day and maybe you will try to create some new ones. Maybe it will be a new initiative to have a meal every night. That would be making every evening count to have a family dinner as a new tradition in your home. That would be making every marble count.
Think about it, maybe instead of listening to your talk radio while your kids are in the car, have some conversations and ask some questions other than how was your day… because they’re usually only going to respond and say good or fine. And if they are a middle school boy, you’ll be lucky to get a word out of them. Ask creative questions, what made you laugh today? What are you excited about?
- What times are you going to spend together each week?
Are you seeing a pattern here? What are the times for each week, each intentional moment? You see the rhythm and the opportunities and say you are going to maximize that time!
- What are the times we’ll spend together each month?
There are some things that are a monthly rhythm and you need to be intentional about those times as well! So how do you maximize those times?
- What are the times we’ll spend together each year?
And listen, some of you on this video… YOU are going to create family traditions that you never had. Like maybe adding something special just for your family during Christmas or something during the summer. Some of you, it might be a taco Tuesday, having pancakes for breakfast or for dinner one night a week… Create some family traditions that make every marble count!
Are you going to start talking to your kids in the car? Are you going to actually start enjoying bath time? Some of you might even look at times when you have to discipline your kids as an opportunity because you have a limited amount of time to invest in them; build character in them, shape them into who God designed them to be… and maybe you realize you only get 936 weeks and it leaders you to be more mindful to make even difficult moments in each phase count a little bit more.
Are YOU Committed to Making Every Marble Count?
I’ve done this illustration live and I’ve given people marbles with such an impact that they’ve come back to me years later and they carry the marble in their pocket. You could go to the store and carry in old marble, but these were the marbles given out as a reminder of this message. It might not have been in their pocket; it might be in the cup holder of the car, it might be on your dresser, or just somewhere you would see it everyday. That is what people are telling me and it has made an impact. You could do the same to remember to make every marble count. I challenge you to not kill your children, because you can’t when you remember that you’ve got limited time to love them, to shape them, to encourage them, to build them up to be the person that God created them to be.
So I hope that this helps you and you can go out there and make every marble count. Go out there and give your greatness to the world. And your kids. Love you guys!! Have a great week!!