Do you spend a lot of time sitting around pondering how slow your life is? How relaxed you and your family feel? The surplus of time you have? Don’t you wish you could work more, spend more time running around in the car, take your kids to more activities, cut things closer?
I didn’t think so. That’s why I think I’d recommend Making Room for Life: Trading Chaotic Lifestyles for Connected Relationships to absolutely anyone. This book will not only give you a lot to think about and talk over, it will also give you tools to think through how you want your life to be and how to realistically evaluate your schedule and priorities to create space for actually living in your life.
Randy Frazee begins Making Room for Life with a description of common problems in Western families: we have lots of exposure to different groups of people, but very few truly deep connections. We have linear friendships rather than connected friendships–most people know one facet of who we are, but very few know the whole story of who we are, which leads to loneliness, anxiety, and a general sense that something is off balance.
The solution, Frazee believes, is to establish boundaries in the way we devote our time, and establish habits of connection. He advocates limiting your work to the hours of 6am-6pm, and leaving the hours of 6pm-10pm for real dinners, conversation, and community.
I think the time boundary section was most compelling for me. I work from home, and I homeschool, and so often it feels like there is never a time when I’m not working. Or, if there is, I feel guilty, as though I really ought to be doing something. At the same time, I definitely struggle with feeling like I have a lot of superficial friendships but few deep connections. As a homeschooling family, we spend a LOT of time together, but I have long sensed that we lack the kind of unstructured relaxing together time that is refreshing and restoring as well as relationship-building.
In the book, Frazee discusses different ways people structure work, how to establish a strong family dinner time, how to work around homework and sports schedules, and how to figure out ways to connect more of the disparate groups you’re a part of currently. Although a lot of the book is directed at two parent families, significant sections speak to single parents, singles, empty nesters, and the elderly.
I really appreciated Frazee’s honesty about how this has been a gradual process in his family’s life, and his understanding that different situations and phases of life might call for different solutions. I found myself wondering at times how certain ideas could be implemented with small children, introverts, or a spouse who is not a morning person, but I think that with some thought the main ideas of the book are sound enough for a variety of applications.
Whether you are the sort of family that attempts radical overhauls or the kind that prefers incremental changes toward a goal, I think there is something for everyone in this book. I found it challenging and compelling and once my husband and I have a chance to discuss it more fully I think we will probably integrate a number of these ideas into our life in the new year.
As you look ahead to the new year, I would highly recommend Making Room for Life, and I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read it!
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