If you’re a parent, one of the greatest titles bestowed on you by God is that of “mom” or “dad.” We’re entrusted with the enormous task of raising these little arrows for the kingdom of heaven (Psalms 127:3-5).

But, for most of us, “mom” or “dad” isn’t our only title. We have many titles, responsibilities and tasks clamoring for our time and attention. Child of God, wife, boy mom, dog mom, art teacher, author, illustrator— these are some of mine.

In our very busy society, we need to be thoughtful about our titles and our time. It’s so easy for urgent things to overwhelm important things. 

Time is a gift from God. Let’s be sure to invest it in our children.

The gift of time

2 years ago, I was pregnant with my second child, working full time as a middle school art teacher. I definitely felt pulled in multiple directions during this season, and I was ready to slow down and press in. 

I was extremely blessed to take a year-long maternity leave— and so I gained a new title: stay-at-home mom. I was so grateful for the gift I was receiving: time with my two boys. Time I would never get back.

I jumped in with both feet. I planned lessons and activities to do with my 3-year-old during my newborn’s naps. We learned letters and their sounds, counted, did crafts, and practiced cutting and tracing.

Intentional time is life-giving

The most magical adventures happened in our house those mornings— and something special started to happen each day as my son and I worked through the alphabet. I realized that it wasn’t about my son learning his letters and numbers— it was about doing it together. The time I invested wasn’t just strengthening his early learning skills— it was strengthening our bond.

And so my book More than Just the Alphabet was born. I saw how life-giving it was for both of us to spend intentional time together— and I wanted to facilitate those kinds of opportunities for other families. 

When we prioritize spending time with our kids, we show them that we don’t just love them because we’re their parents and we “have” to— but that we truly like them and delight in spending time with them.

Laying a strong foundation now

My boys are young— ages 4 and 18 months, respectively. I have much to learn and I’m sure the specifics will change as they grow. But I’m glad to lay this foundation now so we can build on it in the future as more complicated issues arise.

The work we do in our homes with our children is some of the most important work we do. I know it doesn’t always feel like it— when the to-do list sits untouched and it feels like we’ve nothing to show for our day. But if we listen to our children tell stories, color with them, read, cook— and share the Gospel along the way— then we’re fulfilling one of our most important God-given titles. 

The time we invest in our kids today is one of the most important “tasks” we can do. Our children are worth more than the items on our to-do list.

The time we invest in our kids today is one of the most important “tasks” we can do.

Here are three ways I’ve learned so far to make the most of my time with my children:

1. Make time to be present

Our children don’t expect us to be perfect— but they desperately want us to be present. It’s easy to be only halfway present with our kids as we respond to emails, text messages or scroll our phones.

As a parent, we do have other titles and responsibilities. It’s unreasonable and unhealthy to try to be fully present all the time. But it’s equally unreasonable and unhealthy to be only halfway present all the time. 

Let’s number our days (Psalm 90:12) and show our children that we delight in them by choosing time to be present. Mark it on the calendar or schedule, if necessary, and then be fully present during that time.

Watch how that presence sparks confidence, peace, and discipleship opportunities— for both of you!

2. Practice listening

One day we’ll want our children to tell us about their day and their friends. We’ll want them to bring their big questions to us. If we haven’t established ourselves as good listeners, will they tell us these things?

Listen to the 5-minute-long story about a giraffe named Fluffer. Let them finish their sentence before jumping in to finish it for them. Take the time to listen through the stammering and stuttering of a newly vocal toddler. Just a few, personal examples of ways I’m trying now to be a better listener. 

I know it can be difficult in our busy world— full of deadlines and other responsibilities— but we set ourselves up for long-term joy if we slow down and listen to them today. 

3. Pray about it

Parenting is hard. Prioritizing our responsibilities in our fast-paced world isn’t easy. If you feel distracted and pulled in too many directions, you’re not alone. Never underestimate the power of prayer.

God has gifted you with your children. He’s designed parenthood in a way for you to partner with him in raising them (Philippians 4:6-7). He wants you to succeed more than you do!

Pray for wisdom on how to rearrange your titles so you can invest more time with your children.

Pray for peace and joy to fill your heart as you focus your time to fulfill your task as a parent.

Whatever your prayer is, I have faith in our big God who does big things in our lives and the lives of our children.

He’s waiting and willing to help us

No matter how busy we feel, how old our kids are, or the stage of parenting we’re in, our gracious Father is always waiting and willing to help us joyfully raise our children.

If your child is past the toddler phase and you feel behind on investing your time, don’t lose heart. There’s something powerful about the truth. It might feel uncomfortable at first, but it’s never too late to admit to your child that you want to be more present, that you want to listen more, and that you want to pray big prayers together. God wants to use you in the life of your child whether they are 3, 13, or 33. 

Ask for the words to build connection, ask for the opening of hearts, and allow God’s grace to meet you where you need Him (Matthew 7:7-11).

Thank you, Lord, for giving me the gift of my child/children. I know they are yours before they are mine. I ask that you help me invest my time wisely in my children so they can see I delight in them— and ultimately, that you delight in them. As I raise these little arrows, help me to do so for your kingdom. May we fulfill kingdom work— growing to know and love you. Thank you for grace as I navigate parenthood. In Jesus’ name— Amen.