My family and I recently returned from an amazing vacation. We scuba dove, snorkeled, rode horses bareback in clear Caribbean water…. It truly was a vacation one only dreams about. My gratefulness for our experience is beyond words, truly indescribable. But beyond this, beyond every incredible thing we did on our trip the the real magic is summarized in what we call Fab Five.
We are the Fab Five. Our family of five. And when we are together, uninterrupted, phones and devices away, work and school out of reach, we are fab. Granted, Caribbean water and sunshine and seeing turtles and riding horses, well of course that is extra fabulous, but the time all five of us had just being together is what made the trip absolutely magical. If I had been on that trip alone, it would have been fun, but absolutely not the same. Not even close. The magic was in US.
When we are home in the everyday it is rare that the five of us are together. I work hard to try to have at least a couple family dinners each week, but when we do have one it turns into twenty minutes, maybe half an hour if I’m lucky. Someone has sports, someone has homework, someone has to leave. Less time is spent eating the food than the time I spent making it! On one hand I miss the days when I had two in booster seats and one in a high chair and the five of us had plenty of time for long dinners every night, but on the other hand I wouldn’t trade the adult discussions we have now, the shared humor we all understand and the depth of conversation we get even in only twenty minutes.
On our trip we got six full days of this and six full days of each other. I saw my daughters bury each other in the sand, I saw them take photos of each other on the beach, I saw them laugh together (even though sometimes they were laughing at me!), play paddle ball together, walk the beach together. And the five of us swam together, ate every meal together, rode horses together, played games together and talked and laughed and talked some more. I left the trip feeling like I actually knew what was going on in every one of my family member’s lives (WOW!) and never felt it was too much “togetherness.”
But despite all the fun things we did and all that we experienced on this incredible vacation, the biggest ah-hah moment for me came during a family game of Left, Right, Center on our balcony looking over the beach when my youngest daughter Ashley said, “Why don’t we have more family game nights at home?”
Why don’t we have more family game nights at home?
The short answer is sports and homework… the long answer is we are not MAKING time. But the time is there, somewhere. Somewhere between the gazillion other things going on in five different, busy lives it is there. The time is there if we make it be there.
I talked to my husband about this and we agreed to try harder. Make more time. Make Fab Five time even if someone would prefer to be with their friends or if someone has to stay up a little later for homework.
Since spring break we are one for one. The first week back we demanded a family game one night when everyone was home. The whole game only took about forty-five minutes, but it was forty-five minutes of Fab Five we would not have had otherwise. YATZEE!
This week we are on our second week back from break and already to Wednesday and haven’t made time yet, but I haven’t given up. I need to find something for all of us to do together this week, and so on each week. We won’t be perfect, I know, but there is no one in this world I would rather be with than these four souls that I love with all my heart and time is moving quickly! Emily our oldest goes to college in just over three years. THREE! And while we will still always be the Fab Five, she won’t be under our roof for most of the year. But she is NOW. And NOW is where we are. NOW is what I have to take advantage of.
I have written before that a dear teacher of mine says;
“You are only here now.”
This applies here tenfold. I have to make time for NOW with my family. If I am busy, if I am tired, I have to make time. Phone away, device away, distractions away time.
Real everyday life isn’t a magical Caribbean vacation, but everyday life can still be magical. For me that magic is uninterrupted family time. I just need to make time for the magic. Make it happen. Use my mamma bear fierceness to tell them, “We will have family time and you WILL like it!” And guess what, no matter how much someone might complain about a family game or moment, they are always happy by the time we finish. Always. And they still have time for homework or friends or sleep.
I am so grateful that Ashley said those words on our trip (Thank you Ash!) to remind me that no matter how old our kids get, it is still every bit just as important to make family time every week not just on vacations! Because there truly is nothing better.
So while I dream of crystal clear waters and white sand I will try to plan our next Fab Five time together. Twenty minutes, an hour, two hours, whatever I can get because even if I get eye-rolls, whining or excuses, “my friends never have to have family time,” I know in my heart that this time matters to all five of us and that those friends who do not get family time are truly missing out on something special.
Blessings to you and your family,