When your kids are little, you don’t think too much about it.
At least in my experience.
Mostly it’s about getting through the busy day and safely tucking them in at night.
Not that we didn’t try to be intentional as a family because, believe me, we did.
But then one day you look across the living room and suddenly realize they’re growing up and not so little anymore.
And that’s when you wonder.
Once they leave home, will they come back again? What will they remember? And will they miss you…as much as you’ll miss them?
So you can imagine what was going through my mind when in a short time our four oldest kids moved across the country for work and school.
I tried to hold them loosely. Palms wide open.
But couldn’t help holding my breath too.
Until early in December when the text messages started showing up. “What dates do you want us home, Mom? Let me know and I’ll book my tickets.” Four times over.
Not only were they coming home, but they seemed genuinely excited about being back with family—our family. And I found myself both relieved and grateful.
To prepare for their return, I asked each one what they were looking forward to most. They all had the same answer: our family coffee time.
Such a simple thing.
But sure enough, no matter how late it was when they flew in the night before, they were up early the next morning so they wouldn’t miss our coffee time. Every morning we sat around for an hour or two and hugged and talked and laughed together.
And drank coffee, of course.
Creating a Close Family Time
I wish I could say that Matt and I knew what we were doing when we first began, but we didn’t realize how meaningful it would become for our family.
Somehow over the years, this early morning coffee time became a sacred hour where we gathered together before the day got going. We snuggled, discussed events of the day, what was on our minds and on our hearts.
And it turned out this was what our older kids missed most.
How did we start out this family time?
We began by setting a specific time that we’d gather together and protected it like crazy.
We make it a “mandatory” event but do our best to make it a sweet one too.
No arguing, fighting or complaining allowed. Those issues can be resolved at another time, but not during this hour.
While we occasionally take care of some “business” here (such as logistics, decision-making, etc.) we try to keep it primarily conversational and relational.
No phones or electronics.
We added an element of ritual. For us, that means the ritual of making French Press coffee carefully arranged on a particular tray for this very purpose. Each person has their own “cup” and the way they like their coffee.
For many years, Matt was the main one who served the coffee, but the younger boys will also jump up to do the pouring now.
Our coffee time is often followed by Bible reading (although we haven’t always been as consistent as we would have liked).
Ready to commit and get creative?
While it doesn’t work for everyone to have a morning time like this, if you’re committed and willing to get creative, you can still put together something that works for your family schedule. Maybe something in the evening? After dinner? Or maybe it means getting up a half hour or so earlier in the morning.
And hopefully, you see that it doesn’t actually require coffee—that’s just something our family enjoys. Although I do suggest you offer whatever is special to your family (hot chocolate, iced tea, a bowl of fruit, snack, etc.).
If your kids are very young, then start small. Our coffee time began with Matt and I enjoying our coffee while we snuggled with our little ones. As they got older, we included them more and more in our conversations. We eventually invited them to join us for coffee as well. (And if you’re wondering about the age? At first, it was permitted in their teens, but I noticed the “age limit” got lower and lower over time until — thanks to their softy father 😉 — our youngest was allowed a SMALL cup at 10 years old.)
If your kids are older (tweens and teens), then it might be more challenging to get such a family time going but still worth the effort. Consider starting out with a shorter time or perhaps only once a week, then gradually add time or days until it’s a regular thing. Think how good it would be for their growing hearts and minds to have a set-aside time free from the pressure of peers and distraction of screen time!
Something they’ll love for years to come
While your kids might not be able to communicate it, we all long for closeness and a strong sense of family and they do too. And it’s not nearly as hard or complicated as you might think. All it really takes is determined commitment, a little creativity, and an invitation to gather.
And maybe a cup of coffee.
Go ahead! Your kids are going to love it…for years to come.
* Got questions about family time? Ask in the comments and I’ll try to answer them!