Cultivate a Life of Fulfillment: Build Better Habits with Scheduling
Do you ever feel like there needs to be more time in the day to prioritize family moments? We know that amidst the “get everything done on the to-do list” life we live on the farm, and as parents, carving out quality family time often feels like an impossible dream. But as years passed, we've looked back at the keys we found to create togetherness: schedules! It's not a sparkly word by any means - but it works. By choosing when it is work time and when it is family time, we can savor precious moments that nurture our family's bond.
Crafting a Family-Centric Schedule
We did not start on day one at the hospital or during the first week of kindergarten. It starts with little steps, like setting bedtimes. It grows when you hold hands, asking, “Are we okay?” You both answer that things can improve and don’t want to wait.
At the start of each day, as the farm comes alive and the sun peeks in, we have a routine that works for us. I want to eat breakfast, take the dog out, and watch the weather forecast. One son wants to run to the office for a few rounds on a game - at 5 am. Another son seeks to check his phone, shower, and catch up with a few shows he watches. My wife reads for about 30 minutes and then meditates 10 - 15 minutes. We all arrange to overlap and see each other in the morning. It might be 5 minutes talking through the day schedule, or we quietly enjoy each other's company.
We are all morning people, so that helps. No one has to fight an alarm clock; we all have morning routines because that is what we do from early on, and we stick to it. It’s predictable. It’s reliable. It’s comforting.
The day doesn’t end at the same time all year. We are not the family that can sit for dinner at 5 pm. Our kids are in sports, and those coaches make sure we know they are a big priority.
In a great harvest, I might need every minute of sunlight to pick the corn or the last of the squash before the storms come in overnight.
1 meal a day is a priority. Dinner.
Ideally, we have a scrap of paper on the fridge that says what we have for dinner every night. Whichever parent is home first gets the dinner going and makes whatever side meals are needed for the picky eaters. If one son walks through the room at 4:30 with a package of crackers sneaking off, we remind them of the time and start pulling them into the meal prep.
We prepare a lot of meals ahead of time because, well, we grow food. We keep a lot of food in the house. That is a schedule - have food on hand, a pantry stocked with the basics, and plan out meals. It is much less stressful to have a shopping day, plan the meals, and follow it when you have a busy schedule.
Every evening, we come together as a family for dinner. We connect. We don’t have the TV on. We don’t take phone calls at the table. After dinner, my wife and I often linger at the table, enjoying the pause, discussing our wins and the day's challenges, and offering support. It's a time to relax, unwind, and appreciate life's simple things.
We prioritize our mental and physical health. I have always been mindful of the benefits of getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, and moving naturally. I don’t have a gym membership because my job goes way beyond 10,000 steps each day. My son does it because he needs to do lap swimming, which works on entirely different muscles. My wife must have quiet time to build her routine and focus. We have bedtimes - and if the parents go to bed hours before the kids, yep, that is fine. And the kids are trusted to go to bed at a reasonable time (currently before 9:30). Routine.
We consciously have weekends between tournaments, customer deliveries, and a full-time farm. They are not a blur. We protect their schedule. We let others know it is our “off” day.
We frequently move outside for some fresh air on the weekends. We sit around the fire, gaze at the stars, and take in the stillness of the night. We talk and laugh. Are you getting a theme here? We enjoy each other's company.
A game night doesn’t always fall on a weekend; it can happen on a random Tuesday - and because we do it regularly, it isn’t a big deal to just toss one into the week because we enjoy it. We crave more intentional moments of togetherness - creating lasting memories and reinforcing the importance of family.
We all have full schedules. Sometimes, the tournament has to turn into a family weekend. So we booked a cabin instead of a hotel. We cook food and usually welcome a few other kids into the mix.
We also schedule workloads of the farm to be done to protect special days like a Sunday/Monday for our time together. In a fast-paced life - it takes a decision to plan months and weeks out, and it takes strength to stick to those decisions to not deliver chickens on the one day you get to hang out with your family.
Unlock Your Greatest Potential: Take Control with Strategic Scheduling
We've witnessed its transformative effects on our farm and family dynamics by sowing seeds of quality time through an intentionally crafted schedule. Here are a few benefits we've experienced:
- Building a Stronger Family: Quality time spent as a family regularly creates lasting connections and a strong family unit.
- Work-Life Balance: Work and family can coexist harmoniously. Creating a plan that works for us can make all the difference. It allows us to meet the job's demands while making room for family. Looking forward to a weekend helps us be more productive on the farm.
- Cherished Memories: Life’s little moments become the stories we share repeatedly; make them intentionally. We carry each other through the highs and lows of life, and the memories provide a comforting reminder of the glue that ties us all together.
- Teaching Life Values: Lead by example and learn side by side. My wife and I show the kids the upside of having schedules so that we can balance and achieve some pretty great things. These lessons will become foundational cornerstones in their approach to work, family, and life as they grow.
Whether it's a game night, sharing stories around the tomato packing line, riding along for a customer delivery, or simply sitting and talking on the porch after dinner, we strive to create family time.
Scheduling leaves the room for dedicated family moments, and our family remains at the heart of our farm life. It's important to us that we make memories and build bonds that will carry us through the years.