Finding Time for Scripture: Navigating the Busy Season of Parenting
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In this episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast, host Elizabeth Urbanowicz addresses the question of how to find time to read Scripture when you have multiple young children. She emphasizes the importance of recognizing that this season of parenting is different and requires different expectations, but cautions against using it as an excuse to neglect time in God's word. Listen in for practical tips and encouragement for parents to prioritize time in God's word and not buy into the lie that they are too busy for it.
Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.
Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children that God has placed in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled that you've joined me for another episode today. Now, today's question says, "how do I find time to read Scripture when I have multiple children four and under." Such a good question, and I'm sure it's one that either listeners have already experienced or are currently experiencing that the stage when you have multiple young children at home is just so different than a stage where you just have one child at home, and especially different than a stage of being married with no children or being single.
So we're going to dive down deep into that question today, but before we do, if you have found the content of this podcast beneficial would ask that you, consider liking and subscribing, and writing a review so that more people can discover this content. Also, if you have a question that you would like for me to answer on a future Foundation Worldview Podcast, you can submit that by going to FoundationWorldview.com/podcast.
Now, as we think about a stage of parenting where one has multiple children who are young time in Scripture in this stage is going to look very different than it did in previous seasons of life. I mean, I would hope that before having children and before getting married, those who are watching and listening spent a good deal of time in Scripture seeking the Lord through his word, where that frequently changes once multiple little ones are on the scene. And so I think a few things that are important to do is, one, it's important just to recognize this is a different season and it's going to look different than a season of when you just had one child or when you didn't have any children.
So it is a different season and there needs to be different expectations, but I would caution everyone watching and listening to be sure that you are not making this an excuse for not spending time in God's Word. And I think that's so easy to do, especially in this day and age when so much of the stuff that I see on social media and just hear in different conversations with young moms is just this attitude of just "give yourself a break. Life is really hard. This is a really difficult season," and there is some truth to that. Having multiple young children is a really difficult season of life. It is very physically draining, it's emotionally draining, it's mentally draining in that you're not having a lot of adult conversations like you used to have. And so it is a very difficult season of life, but that doesn't mean that you can just give yourself a pass or say, "well, you know what? I'm just not going to be in Scripture right now" because we, all of us, no matter what season of life we're in, we are called to take our eyes off of ourself and to fix them on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. So even as you're in this difficult season, you can still find ways to be immersing yourself in Scripture.
So just as a few practical tips for things that you can start doing every day is first off, I'm pretty sure you have to feed your kids breakfast every day, and especially in the season before they go off to school or before you're starting to homeschool, your breakfast can probably be a little bit more flexible that you don't have to be out the door at a certain time. So I would just really encourage you just start making it a habit of reading Scripture with your kids at the breakfast table, that this is just a routine that you do every day. And so it's a natural time when you can read Scripture. Now, is this going to look the same as when you used to have a half hour or an hour to yourself to just sit in a cozy chair and take out your Bible and maybe a journal? No, it's going to look different, and obviously, it's going to be chaotic as you're trying to feed multiple young children, but it can be done. Just set realistic expectations of, okay, this is going to be a little bit chaotic. It's not going to be as focused, but we're still having the opportunity to read God's Word. Just start with a narrative book that's easy for some of your kids to understand and just start reading through it.
Also, I've seen with a lot of young families that as their kids transition from eating in a high chair to eating in a chair at the table, the kids just get up and they talk and they walk, and the parents are encouraging them to come back to the table, but it's not a hard and fast rule. I would encourage you that if you have not set that as a hard and fast rule, you should be doing that because it is an appropriate expectation for your child, even at the age of three or four, to be able to stay seated in their seat while eating for 10 minutes. And so if you are just as you transition your children from a high chair to a regular chair, what you need to do is beforehand just set the expectations of, "Oh, this is so exciting. You're not going to be in a high chair anymore. You're going to get to eat at the big table. Isn't this so exciting?" And then just give them a few simple rules that your bottom is going to be on the chair the whole time until mommy or daddy excuses you. You're going to eat, you're going to sit there and you're going to eat and whatever other expectation you might have, or you might just have those two expectations that they sit there and that they eat their food.
And then the minute they don't do that, the minute they stand up on their chair, you need to implement a consequence and, "Oh, I'm so sorry. I was so disappointed you were doing so well, but oh, what did you do that mommy or daddy asks you not to do right now? I'm sorry." Take a consequence because if you train your kids in this way, it is possible for them to stay seated at the breakfast table for 10 minutes while you are reading Scripture.
Another thing you can do is read Scripture right after dinner or right before bed. I know that there's a family in my church where they have multiple little kids. They have a son who's just about to turn two, and then they just have a daughter who's a few months old and every night after dinner, what they do is the husband plays guitar. So he pulls out his guitar and they'll sing a hymn together, and then they read through a short epistle and talk through it together as a family. Now, do their young kids understand what they're talking about? No, not completely. But what they're doing is they're just developing this pattern, this habit, so that their kids are just getting in the habit from the youngest of ages that Scripture reading is something that we do as a family.
If you have children that are three or four after you read a passage, whether it's at the breakfast table or after dinner or before bed, you can just ask them one simple question, what does this passage show us about God? What does this passage show us about God? And now in the beginning, you are going to need to answer that question frequently for your kids, but as they get used to hearing your answer, they're going to get used to thinking, okay, what do I learn about God from this passage that we're reading?
Another simple thing that you can do is just play an audio Bible on your phone throughout the day. I mean, our phones, they can be a huge distraction, but they can also be a huge blessing that you can get any version of the Bible that you want on your phone audio, and you can just play it throughout the day. And now you can just try to listen to the whole Bible as you're throughout the year or however long it takes you, or you can just commit to listening to one book over and over and over and over again. And do you need to sit there and fully concentrate on it the whole time? No, that's not realistic when you're taking care of young children who have so many immediate physical needs, but you might be surprised at how much you'll remember if you listen to the same book over and over and over and over again.
Now, for those of you who have watched or listened for a long time to this podcast, you know that I do not have my own children. My background with children is in elementary education. And so I have never been through this phase of knowing day in and day out of what it's like to have multiple children, four years old and younger. But I know that for myself, even when I listen to a book of the Bible on an audio Bible and I listen to it over and over and over and over and over again, I retain so much, even if I'm just listening while I'm driving or while I'm cooking.
Last year I decided for August and September I was going to listen to the book of Hebrews over and over and over and over again. And anytime I was doing something physical with my hands that I didn't need to think a lot about, I would just put on the book of Hebrews. And I was shocked to find that at the end of those two months, I practically had the first few chapters memorized, not because I had tried to memorize it, but just because I had heard it so many times. So that's an easy thing to do.
If you're in the car a lot with your kids or even if you're at home just playing, you can play Scripture to music. A great artist for that is the Slugs and Bugs. I think it's Randall Goodgame who does that. But Slugs and Bugs just takes Scripture and puts it to music. Even I as an adult sometimes when I don't have any children in my car, I love to put on Slugs and Bugs because I like to listen to music, but it's just hearing Scripture put to song. And then there are so many times throughout my day when a situation will come up and one of those Slugs and Bug songs will come, will pop into my mind, and it's Scripture speaking to that situation.
So especially it's kid-friendly music, but most of the songs, you know how there's that kid-friendly music that kind of makes you feel like you're going crazy or you just want to put cotton balls in your ears. Most of the Slugs and Bug songs are not like that. There are some silly ones, but most of them are music that you as an adult would probably enjoy. It might not be your favorite music, but hopefully, it won't make you want to plug your ears.
Just as a reminder, something that I said before, it's really important, especially as you're in this intense season of parenting, to not buy into the lie that you are too busy for Scripture in this season because that's going to be detrimental to your own life and it's going to be detrimental to your parenting because we know from Scripture that Jesus is the bread of life, that he is our spiritual food that we need to sustain us every day.
And we would never make this argument about being too busy with physical food. We'd never say, oh, you know what? I'm just so busy in this season of parenting. I just don't have time to feed myself. Because we know exactly what would happen that first, we'd start to get really cranky because we'd get very hangry and we'd get very grumpy and we wouldn't be able to parent well, and then our bodies would start to waste away because we didn't have any nutrients until eventually we wouldn't be able to parent our children at all because we were just so sick and wasting away where it's similar in a very real way. It's similar spiritually that Jesus, the word of God is our spiritual food. And so we need to intake the word of God every day when we don't, we're going to get cranky. We're going to get hangry spiritually, and we're not going to parent our kids well, we're not going to be pointing them towards Jesus, and eventually we're just going to spiritually waste away. So just be sure not to buy into this lie that this is too difficult of a season to spend time with God in his word.
And just don't underestimate what your children can be trained to do is I see so many parents with young children just kind of playing catch up that their children will, they won't have thought through situations ahead of time, and then their children respond in a sinful way. And then they say, don't do that, don't do that. And they say it multiple times and they waste so much of their day just correcting their children's behavior where if we set appropriate expectations for our children ahead of time and we train them and immediately implement a consequence so that they know what the expectation is, our kids aren't going to be perfect. That's impossible. That should not be our expectation, but things can go a lot more smoothly when we train them well ahead of time.
I saw this in the classroom now when I taught, I was mostly teaching third grade, which are students eight or nine years old. So that's vastly different than a four-year-old. However, kids, four and younger and kids of any age can be trained very easily to do certain tasks that are developmentally appropriate if we just take the time and have the patience and persistence to train them. Now, I'm not saying that we want little robots. We want our kids to have time to have free play. We want them to be able to enjoy life, to be creative, to be silly, but we just need to recognize that if things feel kind of crazy and chaotic at home, we need to take a step back and say, okay, what could I do a better job of training my children in so that this time is less chaotic? Because yes, life with children is always going to be a little bit crazy, but it doesn't have to be hectic, and it doesn't have to be chaotic with proper training.
And then one final word of encouragement that I have for all of those watching and listening is just recognize once you're not in this crazy season where your children need you physically at every moment for their survival. Once your children, maybe right now your children are four, two, and one. Well, once your children are older than that once they're eight, six, and four, or however old they may be just recognize, oh, this is a different season and I might have a little bit more time now for God's Word. So where can I reclaim a few minutes so that I have some time with God's Word? Where can I reclaim a few minutes with my children so that we have time in God's Word together? So just recognize once you're kind of out of that crazy season of them needing you physically every moment, then what is time that you can reclaim to start diving deeper into God's Word?
Well, that's a wrap for today's episode. I hope that this episode has been an encouragement, especially for those of you who are in that really intense season of parenting very young children. As we leave our time together, my prayer for you is that no matter the situation you and the children God has placed in your care, find yourself that you would trust that God is working all things together for your good by using all things to conform you more into the image of His Son. I'll see you next time.
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