Podcast #3 – Having an Intentional Month

Marissa Rice

This Podcast is all able making your month intentional! Listen for some ideas on how we are working in intentionality into our family time.

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Hey Friends! Thanks for stopping by today on the RaisingRice’s Podcast. If you have been following along with us you have heard that as a family we have started this year 2018 off by setting up a “monthly plan” in which there are several elements we want to include within the month ALL with the thought of being intentional and purposeful. We wanted to write out our thoughts on the month so that we can make sure as our lives get busy and full that we are saying yes to the vision we had for our family that fits in with our year plan. This was inspired from my reading Sally Clarkson’s book: A life giving experience.

Yes, we have provided room for flexibility because things just come up. Some great new ideas or events we didn’t plan for, or things that we can’t avoid like sickness or life changes. But with the flexibility we want to bring intentionally to the culture of our family we are passionate about creating.

So lets dive in. First lets cover the process. I am a list maker, in fact somewhere inside myself there is a list and on that list it says, “make list’s.” My husband and I created a list of things that we want to make sure were incorporating every month as jumping off point. I will share what is on our list and then give you a breakdown and examples following,

ok on our list of the things that we want to happen or be aware of each month are:

-A focus on Read Aloud Books for the whole family

– Focus Family Game, for family game night

– Birthday celebrations

– Focus Family Bible (Which you will see includes both family bible time and devotions with mom)

– Homeschool themes and connecting activities

– Special Monthly activities

– Mom and Dad date nights (which includes going out and staying in)

– Boy activity

– Girl activity

– Special one-on-one kid date

– and lastly special events (this is slightly different from the activities section, because it is more connected with calendar or scheduled events.)

11 areas of focus, lets talk through the why and the what of these sections. Remembering while you listen see what ideas that you might want to try with your family, or what intrigues you, knowing every family dynamitic is different and has different needs and desires.

Starting off with Focus Read Aloud. Both Darren and I have great memories of being read to by our parents. In fact to this day I can tell you times and places that I have special memories of my parents dedication to reading to me. While reading aloud is super valuable for ALL kids, for me because I have dyslexia making reading difficult and hard to create a passion for something you constantly struggle with. My parents never gave up and to this day I love reading, yes I am the slowest reader EVER, but I love how books can educate you, transport you to another place, inspire you for change, and be a unifying element in a family. These reasons and more are why we wanted to start off our 2018 year by making sure we had a selections of books that we want to read aloud. Finding family friendly and good literature books sometimes can feel overwhelming. But I have found a few GREAT resources, one recommended from a friend called Read for the Heart: whole books for Wholehearted families by Sarah Clarkson. From using this resource and a few favorites we remember from childhood, we laid out what books we felt were age approach for the year. For example our childrens ages are currently 4, 3, 2, and 8 months so we have selected to read aloud the Little House on the Prairie series to start the year off.

The next section Focus Family Game, for family game night. Which was brought up by another memory we have from our childhood is family games. In fact when my husband and I were dating, a big part of the way we spent time together was playing games at my or his parents home. We love the idea of all sitting around the table, having conversations, yummy snacks, and playing games. You might be thinking WAIT MARISSA you just told me your oldest kiddo is 4 years old how are you even doing family games? Great question! This year we and potentially the next few, we have decided if family games are important to us we have to teach and create a habit of playing them. So we have decided to start with playing 1 game for 1 month. Our family game nights we have planned to be on Friday nights before the kids go to bed and with a special treat to snack on during or before the game. Here is an example of the games we have picked for the first few months: Uno, Chutes and Ladders, and Memory. And we are doing is playing the same game 4 times (during the Fridays of the month) so that the kids can get the hang of it before moving on to the next game.

Birthday Celebrations is next. Sounds like perhaps an un-needed category for some but is there anyone else other then me that gets going with our day to day lives and then realizes the day before it is your mother in laws birthday!? And you have nothing, not even a thought or anything about what to do? Our family is not huge gift givers but we do like to show we care by having a dinner and inviting the birthday guest, or having the kids draw a picture, and trying to make what we do meaningful, which doesn’t lend well to cramming it in the short hours before.

Focus Family Bible is up next (Which you will see includes both family bible time and devotions with mom). In the evenings before bed we all get our jammies on and come downstairs to the living room and circle up to do family bible time. My husband Darren leads this portion of the day, he reads a verse and talks about the application that would apply to the age of our kids and ask them questions to check of understanding, then we all pray. It is a great time but short to accommodate for their ages. However, I must say lately in many activities including family bible time we figure out about how long on average we feel is the norm for our kiddos then we try to add a few minutes to them, in hope of creating stamina. The second part of this section is devotions with mom. During devotions we usually have just finished or are finishing breakfast, sitting around the table, and I have selected to do the 24 family ways by Clay Clarkson for this years (and most likely next years also) devotions. The outline of the book breaks a value down into 5 days with verses, and questions, and prayer. I do have to say I have modified it for the age of my kids and that is why I think it is something I could honestly continue to do for several years in a row. It also has, to be bought separately if you are interested coloring pages that have the verse on the bottom. I have bought two but haven’t used them yet, maybe next year.

Homeschool themes and connecting activities. Currently since my oldest is in PreK we are doing a lot of thematic learning. And since she has some brothers coming up through the next few years of school we will be doing learning through themes. This will not always be part of our monthly plans as our thoughts will to be not continue the themes in later grades. However for the time being we have themes such as: Elephants, Penguins, Kangaroo, Zebra, Vegetables, etc. It is fun to know about the themes so we can incorporate learning opportunities into our daily lives. And plan special event like a trip to the zoo, planting a garden, making elephant ear treats etc.

Special Monthly activities, would include things that are specific activities for that month. Here are some examples: February making valentine Day cards, or May going on a family hike, or April attending the farmers market. Also could include service projects, events at church like hosting a worship concert, or planning a trip to see relatives.

Mom and Dad date nights (which includes going out and staying in). We have been blessed to have family that lives near by and helps us out from time to time with allowing Darren and I to go out on a date. We have also had the opportunity to do some date night trades with some friends who also have young children. Our goal is to plan one date night out a month. And it is important to plan that time ahead of the month so we don’t miss out or get busy and don’t plan one-on-one time for each other. The other part of our date nights include date nights in. Since our kiddos go to bed around 7:00 each night we have selected two times a month where we would be purposeful in spending time together. Some examples of things we like to do during date night ins’ are: making dessert together, having a picnic in the living room, playing games, reading a book aloud, writing music, making special drinks or more. Again, we see each other every night when the kids go to bed but there is something unique about creating hobbies and general interests together apart from the normal day activity.

Boy activity – What this is, is a time where Darren my husband would spend time with just the boys doing an activity. Now it isn’t the activity that is just boy friendly because my daughter loves to do what would be referred to as boy activities: like building, playing the in mud, etc. This really isn’t about the activity at all. It is about creating a time where Darren can impart wisdom and conversation geared toward males. Our boys are young right now, but I believe why wait, when we wait it could be to late. Some of the lessons Darren has been having conversations with our boys right now are simple and a starting point to the future but things like: courage, gentleness, respect, follow through, and more.

Girl Activity – This is where my daughter and I get to hang out and create those conversations and life lessons. Currently, it is just my daughter and me as the females of the house. And the same as the boy activity, the activity itself is not the most important element but the conversation and relationship building is. Some of the things Madeline and I have done in the past would be: running to the store, baking, going on a walk, getting our toes painted, etc. Currently the conversations Madeline and I have been focused on it about building up her brothers, finding ways to encourage friends and family, making sure to stand up for herself in what is right, telling verses tattling, and including her brothers in activities when playing with friends to name a few.

– Special one-on-one kid date, in a blog on the raisingrices.com page you will find that there is a blog covering the details of this special one-on-one kid date. However, to give you all the quick of it, this is a special time we have created where each of our kids, once a month get to do a special activity with a family member. Since we have 4 children we have four groups that rotate which kid they get each month to do the special activity with. Our Groups are Nana/Papa, and Grandma/Grandpa and then Mom and dad separately. This is a fun time to connect one-on-one, have special memory making time. I for one am super excited to see this grow and the relationships the build from it.

And lastly special events (this is slightly different from the activities section, because it is more connected with calendar or scheduled events.) For example: Easter Sunday, Bible Study, Men’s Breakfast at church etc.

There might be some thinking, WAIT how do you get this all in within a month. Let ease you by saying, we don’t. This new to us and has come with a lot of adjustments. I can also say though I am pleasantly surprised by how much we are able to get in because we have written it out, we have set a goal, laid it out on the calendar and because of that have had more success then we even imagined. I leave you with this, the goals, dreams, and visions for our family time talked about today encompass 365 days, that is 12 months! This is not something to be done in a week or a weekend, and above anything else there is grace! Lots and lots of Grace! But join me next week for a look at the weekly calendar and how this beautiful, big picture can be broken down into a manageable piece.

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