One evening before the beginning of the school year, along with supper, we serve a bowl of raw rice, a bowl of uncooked beans, and a bowl of golf balls. “Not again,” our children cry out while rolling their eyes. And yet, they all want to be the first to dig in. This annual exercise we have in our family with these bowls of rice, beans and balls is a visual and effective activity to remind us of the importance of the choices we will make to manage our time for the school year.
In this activity, one is challenged to fit the contents of the bowls in one jar. The order of filling the jar with these items makes all the difference if they are all to fit in the jar. The order is the powerful lesson we are targeting. (See YouTube video at the end of post.) As our children take more and more responsibility for their own daily lives, we teach them how to manage their time well by having a schedule.
Every time management system or strategy always begins with an inventory of the individual’s values that then drives the setting of goals and then the planning of a schedule to incrementally reach the goals. It is logical and makes the individual move towards a direction meaningful to him.
Clarifying Priorities in the Domestic Church
For our family, we review what our priorities are for the new school year to help all of us be mindful of what are the essentials and what are the less important stuff so that there is proper order in our daily lives. My husband and I determined that our family’s highest value includes our relationships with God, our family members and others, and our selves – patterned after the Great Commandment:
“Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39-40).
Those are represented by the 3 golf balls. We established that the beans are the obligations of our “state of life” like family chores because we are members of the community of our family, participation in youth group/church events because we are members of the Church, school work because our children are students, duties of a job because we and they are employed to work for pay. The rice are the many other activities which individual family members can choose to fill their day after the other priorities are met. Sports, hobbies, clubs, entertainment go in this category.
Time Management Skills
These priorities translate to a basic scheduling of daily personal prayer, regular Mass attendance, regular Confession, sometimes doing a family devotion or in Advent and Lent, reading a family read-aloud book. It means we eat meals together so that we may share our day experiences with each other.
Personal habits to care for the self include scheduling physical activities and having enough hours of sleep. When it comes to the scheduling of the duties of our “state of life,” whether for the couple in their vocation of marriage or the children who are students, the individuals make their schedule to coordinate with the base schedule. Here we practice living as members of a community at the same time taking responsibility for our own time.
Of course, time management is a good practical skill to practice and teach our children. Of greater importance are the values that we lift up to them and try to live by as a family, particularly the importance of relationships, primary of which is the relationship with God. The added fruit of peace manifests itself. When our priorities are in right order, our lives are in proper order. When our lives are in proper order, there is not only interior peace within each individual but there is also peace in the family.