Dr. Tim Thayne talks about the importance of structuring your family's time. Your kids won't structure their own time and the evidence is their messy room. So during this time where we all seem to have more time on our hand's let's be more intentional with how we spend it.
welcome to the not by chance podcast. I'm Talmage Tim thing , son and podcast manager today, dr Tim thing is talking about structure and how important structure is in a kid's life. Especially nowadays with this whole covert 19 thing going on.Dr. Tim Thayne:
I wanted to talk about something that has suddenly come upon all families all at one time and that is the removal of all the structures for the most part that had been imposed by school, church, other CRA , extracurricular activities, all suddenly having been lifted out of place. And of course that leaves all of us family scrambling, wondering what to do for the lack of structure. And you know, you don't realize how important structure is until it's been removed. And then with all that free time, you start to see that there's a decline, there's a decline in all kinds of things. I think that's why parents are so concerned about summertime. What are we going to do when school lets out and summer's here and what and how do we handle that with our, our adolescent or our children? Um, well we've all been, now we're in an experiment. The whole world is in that same Petri dish going through this experience of having structured pulled away. And then what are we left with? I'd like to say that we have a phenomenal opportunity here because a lot of times structures being imposed upon the family, it's being imposed by outside forces or organizations or previous commitments that may have our priorities may have actually shifted during that time. So I think this is a phenomenal opportunity to actually create something out of this void that's there. And that's what I want to talk to you about today as how to intentionally and why to intentionally put the right kind of structure in place. You know, first I want to talk about, there's sort of two extremes going on here. We're sort of in that unstructured extreme. Uh , even without the virus, there are families all over America that, that are kind of on the poles of the extremes. There are some of those families that are trying to highly structure their kids so much that there's very little unstructured time. On the other hand, there's a lot of families out there that are kind of laws a fair or maybe they're intentionally leaving structured , uh , life out of it and they're letting their kids pick and choose. Um, usually the balance, the sweet spot is really in the middle and it really depends on our kids, right? Some of our kids can, can do really, really well with little others need more. And so being in tune with what's going on with each of our children really is required here when we're talking about, you know, how much structure do we put in place or how little, I was recently talking to a mother whose son is in a treatment program right now and she started to tell me what life was like before he went to treatment and she described it as this almost experience of letting her child grow up the way he wanted to grow up. Life was completely unstructured. In fact , uh, it was even, there were no bedtimes. She was worried because her son was coming home in just about a month from treatment. And I'm going to describe to you his treatment program here in a second, which is on the other extreme of the continuum. And he's coming back to this home where he's never had a bedtime before. Her comment to me was, I figured that if he had a few nights without hardly any sleep, he would learn that it's not great to, to do that and that he would be tired, he'd be exhausted and that he would change on his own and put structure into his life. She said, huge mistake. So in hindsight, she was looking back on that saying, I really blew it as a parent because I didn't impose structure when my child needed it. So what's his life like right now he's in a treatment program that's on the far extreme of structuring and controlling and making sure every part of his life is , is sort of in the control of this external force. Um, he's gonna come home to a shocking scenario where his mother's going to be shocked. He's probably looking forward to this. As soon as he's out of there, he's, he's going to be free of all of that structure. This is going to be a scary situation that I I think is just not going to go well at all because she needs a ton of help and she's not really wanting that help to change at the core level of the culture, which is really a loss , a fair parenting approach to the situation. This is going to require an intentional scenario where she changes her culture of what they grew up like and this is the moment of opportunity for her to actually do it. But honestly I don't think she's going to actually pull that through. Well, guess what? We all have that opportunity to right now in every single family around the world where structure's been pulled away and a question is there is space there on the calendar. I don't know if you've been like me, but some will ask you if you have time on a certain day and you open up your calendar and you think you have 10 appointments and suddenly you go, you know what, I'm free. I've got space on my calendar like I haven't ever before. And I think that's the case for most families. Okay. So I think, you know, we all know that the good parenting really involves putting structure into the life of our kids. And so the question is right now, how much structure, how much creative free time might there be? You know, that's going to be really up to each one of you and thinking about each one of your children, what's needed. But you might have that experience right now where it's like we've had a week or so of really kind of letting it flow the way we they want to. And there's been a lot of Netflix watching. There's been a lot of social media gaming , uh, hanging out with friends. Even though you're trying to social distance and all of that other stuff and you're feeling like a little sick. It's like eating too much candy and you're at this point where you like, we do need to do something. We need to add some discipline to the situation. My first thought is be intentional. You know, sit down with your co-parent and say, what are the big rocks in our family that we want to put in first that's going to take up some of our time? What are we trying to do as a family? What's our vision? And if this is a chance to kind of self reflect and say, you know, as a family forever, I've been about hard work and teaching my kids how to work and we've kind of accomplished that. But what we've been missing is we need more fun time together, more play then deliberately structure your calendar so that you have that built in. It could be the opposite. Maybe it's creating work ethic is what you need to do right now during this really unique time. Now , uh , I'll tell you what I did. I don't, I don't think , uh , most people would do this even if they could. But , uh, there was a period of time in our life where Roxanne and I are thinking, what do we want our family to be like? How are we gonna create structure for our kids? And what we want is we wanted to help them learn a work ethic. And so we deliberately bought a yard, bought a , a home with a big yard. We knew that that was going to automatically impose a certain kind of structure that needed to happen during the summers and, and the mowing and et cetera . Several years ago, Roxanne and I decided that we wanted to teach our kids how to work. You know, work ethic was, it was something we valued and we wanted them to learn. And so we made a decision that really put our course , uh , our lives on a, on a brand new course. We made a decision to buy a lot that had a large yard and also had livestock rights so we could bring in a horse or cow. I purchased a milk cow when I did that. My dad said, you know what, Tim, you could have just bought a whole herd of cows if you're going to buy. One should just buy a whole herd because it essentially creates an obligation every single day, twice a day to milk the cow. And that really was the intention. I had in the beginning was that rain, snow, sunshine, whatever the weather, whatever day of the year, Christmas, etc . These , uh, these chores need to be taken care of. And so that's what I did. And that literally did take up a couple hours every single day. Not something I would recommend every family out there by any means. But for our family, it was good for a time. It was great. Parents will make decisions. Like, I want my team to be a part of a sports team because that's going to teach them a lot of great lessons, teamwork, you know, self-discipline , uh, mastering some skill. And, and so they add that to the equation of their calendar in their structure. That's great choice too . By the way. The cow is not on our property anymore either. So we don't have that structure. So here's the tips I'd like to give you. First of all, identify kind of the direction you're heading headed. Uh, you may have made some decisions in your life about things you're going to put in, the values you have and the the way you're going to spend your time as a family. This could be an opportunity to reevaluate that and to say a lot has fallen out. What do we really want to deliberately put back in? I'd say start with a conversation with your co-parent. Think about each one of your children and say, how are they doing? Is there anything we need to impose or invite or encourage by way of structure that would help them achieve their potential, help them achieve the goals that they have in their own lives. So I would start out with a little executive meeting between you and your co-parent about that. The second conversation I would have is I would have a family council where you sit down with them and say, wow, you know what? There's room on the calendar there , space there where we can deliberately choose how to use our time. We know that we have to now start to put some structure in place because this free for all or free range kind of situation has kind of run its course. It's now not working anymore. So let's talk about each one of you, what your goals are, what you want to accomplish. You might have some structure you want to impose, but you also probably want to give your kids the opportunity to to identify goals in their own lives, things that would ignite their own interests , their own passion. And let's say that they want to be, let's say you have a daughter that really wants to make it into this prestigious art school and you can say, okay, let's think about how we can more likely achieve that goal. Let's break it down into small tasks. What are the things that you need to do on a maybe multiple times a week basis, a monthly basis or whatever, and then go ahead and set that, that as part of the structure. So while we're filling the calendar, it's not just like, let's just get something to do. Hey, that's like saying, dig a hole in the backyard and then fill it up again and then dig the hole in the back of the yard again. That'll take up your time. Instead of that, let's tie this designing and creating structure and a framework in the schedule, right directly to our kids' goals, what they want to accomplish and think about the different areas like the spiritual side of their life, their physical, their emotional, their mental, their social, all of those different areas you can set goals in and then structure their calendar so that with their help they can check the box and say, yes, I did that. There's not going to be an air as much room for electronics, probably not going to be as much room for Netflix and watching, watching TV and things like that, but at the end of the day, I think we're all going to feel a whole lot better when we see progress being made by ourselves and by our kids . Little vacation from that structure's fine, but after a while it's just not Drake . So finding that balance, I guess is what I'm saying today is go ahead and let's start implementing structure, not just for taking them time sake, but actually make advancements in our lives and in our kids' lives.