Your life is busy— find out how slowing down can benefit the entire family. Little House on the Freeway author Tim Kimmel talks about the “Mach 2” years of raising their four children.
Your life is busy— find out how slowing down can benefit the entire family. Little House on the Freeway author Tim Kimmel talks about the “Mach 2” years of raising their four children.
Tim: A lot of kids are hurried because there is no sense of calm, peace, and connection at the heart, and bedtimes are a strategic time to capitalize on it as a parent to transfer love and security and favor to a kid's heart. Well, you can't do it if you're running full blast, and you're already an hour way behind bedtime, you put them in. So we had quiet night, and I'll tell you, it helped their homework, their grades, it helped that ritual of bedtime, and then we just calm our thing.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, December 4th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We'll talk today about what we can do as parents to help our children slow down and cultivate a heart of peace and rest. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us. When we're talking with a guest about a particular subject, I'm always curious to find out – is this something that the guest has observed going on in the culture around him, or is it something that the guest has experienced in his own life and so he's writing based on his own experience or what he's observing other people experiencing? And I'm just curious what this particular guest …
Dennis: Just run the numbers, Bob. When we've interviewed guests here on FamilyLife Today, what percent do you think are writing out of their own life and their own experience, and, again, they are observing it in the culture.
Bob: Right, but the vast majority have had some personal experience with whatever they're writing about, and that's one of the reasons I picked up the pen in the first place, right?
Dennis: It is. Well, Tim Kimmel joins us again on FamilyLife Today. Tim, welcome back.
Tim: Thank you.
Dennis: Tim is the Executive Director of Family Matters, and he and his wife, Darcy, speak at our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences around the country and has spoken with us for almost 20 years.
Tim: No, over 20 years now.
Dennis: Over 20? Excuse me, Tim, I apologize for that. But when you're having fun …
Tim: Is there an award or something?
Dennis: Well, shall we talk about the award that you …?
Tim: Oh, that – not only have I been speaking, I've been speaking a lot and a long time.
Dennis: A long time.
Tim: You know what helped me a lot in getting on time? Is I did radio for years, and on radio they say, "You can talk all you want, nobody's listening."
Bob: That's right.
Dennis: And then you do want to develop a respect for the people and give them a break, but, you know, you get so wrapped up in it.
Bob: You do get wrapped up.
Dennis: And so to the honorary person who this has been retired in favor of, the Tim Kimmel …
Bob: … Stopwatch Award.
Dennis: Stopwatch Award – we ask you the question, your book, "Little House on the Freeway" …
Bob: Which is all about living a hurried, fast-paced life in a culture, how it can drive you off the cliff. Did you write this book because your family was in the fast lane?
Tim: I wrote it because I could easily become addicted to the busy, hurried lifestyle. I knew full well that I would be the champion of the spent life if I didn't do something on this. So, yeah, there's a lot of self-therapeutic side of this, but I also saw it as a common denominator – probably some of the nicest people I knew out there.
Bob: Were you headed in the direction of a collision when you wrote this?
Tim: Yeah, absolutely, and I probably would have gone off the cliff were it not for the woman I married, who is committed to our family not being an emotional train wreck because of a hurried lifestyle.
Bob: We've already heard this week how Barbara slowed Dennis down and said, "We're going to rest on Sundays, and we're going to have our date night." What did Darcy do to slow you down?
Tim: Well, there's a lot of things. I can name two that we did on a consistent basis. For one thing, if I had my way, I would not only have the television on, I'd have them all on at the same time.
Dennis: And how many televisions do you own, Tim?
Tim: Seven. I'm not against television.
Bob: No, I guess not.
Tim: I'm just saying that, you know, because you never know where you're going to be in the house, and I hear people say, "Television is evil. You shouldn't have television." I can give you three reasons why every family needs television.
Dennis: Uh-oh. Tim, we're going to get letters.
Tim: Are you ready? NFL, there's one of them. NBA is another one, and PGA is another one. You know, you can put them together in four nice little letters – ESPN. You see, I love television, but she didn't want it to control us. So one thing she said is once our kids were old enough to go to school, she says, "Okay, we're going to institute quiet nights." What is that? That means on a night before a school night, nothing that makes noise can be turned on other than – the children will make noise, but you can't turn on anything that's electric. So the television went off.
Bob: Radio, iPod, music, all of that stuff?
Tim: Music – it's gone.
Bob: This is from dinner until bedtime on a school night?
Tim: On a school night, yes.
Bob: That's Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.
Dennis: And so did you slip off to the den and turn it on if the kids were in bed?
Tim: Well, you know, after they're in bed, if I want to check the news out, I was allowed to do that, but she was just saying, "Look, these kids have homework," and here is the other thing – a lot of kids are hurried because there is no sense of calm, peace, and connection at the heart, and bedtimes are a strategic time to capitalize on as a parent to transfer love and security and favor to a kid's heart.
Well, you can't do it if you're running full blast, and you're already an hour way behind bedtime you put them in. So we had quiet night, and I'll tell you, it helped their homework, their grades, or study – it helped that ritual of bedtime, and then we'd just calm our thing because otherwise you're inviting outsiders in who don't have your best interests at heart and the noise becomes an addiction.
The second thing we were doing – we wouldn't do this every week like your date night, but about every three months we'd play this game, "Okay, let's pretend we're a ship at sea, and there is a ferocious storm going on around us, and the only way we can survive is we've got to jettison cargo." And we would look at our schedule and say, "What is it we're involved in, committed to, whatever, that if we jettison it, we're not going to die."
Dennis: Was this you and Darcy?
Tim: Darcy and I, yeah.
Dennis: Not the kids then?
Tim: Oh, no, no, no. But Darcy and I would do this because we would look at how quickly it is to say yes to things that you shouldn't be saying yes to, or even in the kids' schedule. And as soon as the margin is gone, you'll see anger going up, frustration going up, kids getting catty with each other, attitude, everything.
Bob: So what kinds of things were you tossing overboard? What kinds of things were you even looking at, what kind of cargo?
Tim: Okay, for instance – speaking at a certain Sunday school class on a week that I happened to be home. And I love to do that, but the problem is that I have no time – because I speak at other churches, I have no time just to go to my own church, sit down and worship and be ministered to. I have no time to sit with my own kids, and I had to learn to say no to those things.
The other thing is being invited out for breakfasts, and we made a decision, "Let's say no to all of them."
Bob: So you said family breakfast is going to be a deal …
Tim: Yeah, we're going to eat with our kids before they go off to school.
Tim: And we're going to guard the morning, and there's still time to get plenty done. And so those were the kind of things – commitments, even in the evening, getting together with other friends. We'd try to say, "Let's be specific. One night a week we'll do that, but we're not going to be out every night with" – because you get done with your life, you look back, and you say, "I was involved with a lot of nice people doing a lot of nice things. My kids don't know me, and they don't care about me."
Listen, someday, if I can put it this way – someday we're all going to be sitting in the home waiting for them to ring the bell for our Jell-O.
And I don't want to be there alone all my life, and here's the thing – if you don't have time for your kids when they are young, they won't have time for you when you're old. It's not just a selfishly motivated thing – we're family, and relationships that run deep and connect at the heart – that's what makes sense out of life.
Bob: Okay, Tim, there are a lot of folks, though, who are looking at the pace of life in their family, and they're saying it's not because Mom and Dad are going out spending time with their friends. It's not because Dad is having breakfast with everybody or speaking here or scheduling meetings. We don't have time because all of our time is consumed – well, I'll give you the rundown – Tuesday night was the basketball game, Wednesday night was the youth group, Thursday night was when we had scheduled this – the kids are involved in all of these activities – that's what's driving us off the cliff.
Tim: Well, this is why you need to know the most positive word for the calm and rested heart, and that is "no." That is the most positive word, because until you learn how to say "no" at the right times, you'll never be able to say "yes" when you need to.
And so we said "no." For instance, sports – now, I'm an athlete, you guys are athletes, my kids are athletes, love sports, played sports, our kids are involved in sports.
Dennis: You watch sports on TV.
Tim: But here's the thing – what we did not want sports to be is the tail wagging the dog – the thing that comes in there and steals youth in childhood from our kids, and we had two – of our four kids, we had two that were standouts. We had a son played soccer, and he started playing, like, you know, when he was eight years old and played up until he was 12 years old. He played goalie, he was starting to goal. He was not allowed out on the field to play center forward or something until they had a 3-point lead.
In the four years that he was playing this, he was never scored on – ever. So here comes these guys with the travel teams, and they want this kid badly. And they said, "Oh, Tim, this is great. He's going to be on this great team, and we travel all over the – we go to Albuquerque and Denver and LA and Seattle, and we go to Central Park. "Really? When do they leave?" "Right after school on Friday." "When do they get back?" "Sunday night." "When?" "Oh, about 10, 11:00 at night." "When do they practice?" "Oh, two hours a night, Monday through Friday." "And what's the upside of this?" "Oh, they might get a scholarship."
First of all, let me dispel something for the folks out there that are stealing their kids' youth for some travel team. Say, they're going to get a scholarship. And that's going to save you money? No. You're putting out all the money in advance, you're going to put out tons of money. You're going to pay for a great college education for the kid. So that's not the tradeoff, it is not guaranteed. I said, "I want my kids to enjoy their childhood," and my – the same thing with football.
Bob: Did your son say, "But, Dad, I want to be on – I want to go to New York and Denver and Albuquerque. I want to do that. This would be fun. All my buddies are getting to do it."
Tim: Let me ask you – when your kids say, "But I want to eat Twinkies and cupcakes and so forth," you know it's not in their best interest. That's called "parenting." You make hard choices when you know that something is better for them.
Our daughter was a standout, too, at soccer and Lacrosse, but once they got to high school, they could play the sports, and they played it at a high level, and they had a great time. And then our daughter could have played Lacrosse in college. It was up to her. By the way, that was completely her call. She said, "No."
Dennis: And, you know, your child doesn't have to be a standout. Our daughter, Rebecca, was good but not great, at gymnastics. And she wasn't being recruited for a pro team like your son was, to go across the nation playing soccer at 13 years of age, but they wanted to move her to the next level, and the next level was going to mean four nights a week, four hours – an hour to get to the place where the practice occurred, an hour back, and then …
Tim: Two hours at the practice.
Dennis: Two hours at the practice.
Tim: Then arthritis when she's 37.
Dennis: Well, maybe that, but what we looked at was what we were losing in terms of influence, in terms of time with her, relationally speaking, and I was unwilling, and so was Barbara, ultimately – it took her a while to come around to this because my wife is highly competitive, and she wanted her daughter to be able to excel. She wanted to see her succeed.
Tim: By the way, you're very competitive, and I'm very competitive.
Dennis: I am.
Tim: I mean, if we were keeping score, I want to win. But – we've got to have higher values and principles guiding our life. There's a great principle, and I talk about it in the book – I don't know who said this originally, but never sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate. I don't care how well my kid does in sports if I never see them.
What we're doing is a lot of hurried people are raising one-dimensional kids. They're very good at whatever the sport – and then they get to high school, and it really gets interesting, and they're sick of it. And not only just one area – being in every club at school. I said, "No, if you're going to be on student council, that's it." And even with the youth group. They'll come to the thing – we want them to be committed, but they can't go to everything that's out there.
Dennis: Tim, as you and Darcy did this, what were the benefits that you saw, not only for each of your children but for your family as you made these tough choices and as you practiced saying no?
Tim: We had a much lower level of anxiety in our kids when they were teenagers. In other words, a lot of the factors that you see kids dealing with – chips on their shoulder, anger, sibling rivalry that gets toxic and ugly. I'm not saying our kids weren't capable of that, we just basically didn't deal with it the way most families do. And I think it was because pace was in their life.
Dennis: They weren't exhausted.
Tim: They slept well at night.
Dennis: I don't handle things well when I get tired. Well, neither does a teenager, I promise you.
Tim: No. And academically, you know, we didn't have anybody that was a genius and all that stuff. We weren't trying to raise that, but the point was, they all did well in school, they didn't have struggles in the sense that they were falling through the cracks. You know, we'd have to get a tutor in certain subjects every once in a while, but they did fine, and they had a good attitude towards it. They didn't have deportment problems that a lot of kids get into, because kids are frustrated, they're angry, and they don't know why and, many times, it's because there's no gaps in their life where they can get a sense of peace and calm.
You see, God is the God of calm in the middle of the storm. How in the world can our kids know that if we don't create calm in our house? And that's what we felt we could have. And what's interesting – we're still high technology, we have seven televisions, because I have one out there in the garage, too, and I have one on the patio for where I'm working out.
And we have all the technology and the computers, and I text all the time, but everything is in pace. I know what it is, because I know I could fall off the wagon and become a mess on this if I let myself. I have to be driven by higher principles, and that's why studying Jesus under stress helped me so much. I mean, He had a pretty demanding life, but He never lost the time for the things that matter most.
Dennis: Okay, so you have a radio listener who's going, "You got me. Guilty as charged." You've already mentioned a couple of ways that Darcy brought peace and calm and quiet to your family. What else can they do besides protecting their evenings and turning off the TV? The other one you had was you threw the cargo overboard in the midst of the storm, and you kept narrowing back to where you needed to succeed.
Bob: And with the kids, you said no to stuff that was maybe fine or good but was going to drive you off the cliff, right?
Dennis: What else can – you know, let's say a single parent is listening right now. I mean, she's battling a lot of demands. How can she create that sense of peace and calm?
Tim: Okay, if they even ate two to three meals together as a family without inviting anybody from the television set to join them, the cell phones are shut off, so we're not texting or any of that stuff.
Dennis: No TV on during the meals.
Tim: No TV on – yeah, just – it's amazing what that does, and don't focus on the negative during those meals. Just focus on blessing and joy and fun. It's amazing.
And then if you capture the first few moments and the last few moments of a child's day, it's amazing what that does to bring calm. In other words, they wake up to blessing. At night you stop by, and you wish them well. You pray over them, you sing them a lullaby or whatever it is you do. You know, we sang our kids lullabies, and they appreciated this even into their teenage years.
Now, get this, our lullaby was three songs – we do a verse from – of …
Dennis: We're not going to ask you to sing this, by the way.
Tim: Can I – [sings] Jesus – and we do "Jesus Loves Me," "Oh, How He Loves You and Me," and "Silent Night." We'd just do one verse, and that was our lullaby to them.
Dennis: All three of those?
Tim: Just one verse of those three songs – just like a medley, and …
Bob: I was expecting with you it was going to be "I Heard it Through the Grapevine."
Tim: Yeah, that's a good one, too, by the way. [Sings] Ain't too proud to be ..
Bob: Yeah, I knew what was coming here.
Tim: But, anyway, we do this now – I was paying some bills up on my computer one night, and I looked at two bedrooms. One used to have our son, Cody, in it; the other, our daughter, Shiloh, and they're off at college. And I was just thinking about how I so enjoyed having these kids in my home, and now they're off taking on life, and I thought of how we would sing them goodnight. So I went down, and I got my phone. Now, this was after midnight. One kid is over in Texas, and the other one is down at Arizona State, and I should be in bed by now, but I thought, "You know what? I'll just text them something." And I just wrote – I just texted them – I said, "Jesus Loves Me," "Oh, How He Loves You and Me," "Silent Night. Good night, Dad."
That was it. I just went to bed. You know, I was going out of my room thinking, "They're asleep by now. I hear this "ding-ding-ding" and something came back, and it was our son over in Texas – "Oh, thanks, Dad, goodnight." And then I went back and "ding-ding-ding," and it was our daughter down and she said, "Oh, thanks, Dad, goodnight, I love you."
And I thought, you know, they needed that time with a parent to know all is calm, all is bright. If you're not there, if you're watching Fox News or whatever, it isn't – you're going to miss that chance, and it's a free opportunity every night in our kids' lives.
Dennis: No doubt about it, no doubt about it. And, you know, I'm thinking of practically, at this point, Tim, there are a lot of families who just need to get away from the hustle and bustle of life and, as a couple, a husband and wife need to take some time every year to get away as a couple and recalibrate their schedules, talk about where they're headed, and maybe take a look at what the Bible has to say about their own marriage and their family, and it's why – I've just gotten more and more strident at encouraging our listeners to get to a Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference.
Dennis: Come hear Tim and Darcy speak at one of these things, glean what they've learned from their own successes as well as failures in raising their children and building their own marriage and then go back to your own family with your head cleared, and your heart focused in the right place and you know what? You're going to be better equipped to be able to say no, you're going to be better equipped to know what to throw overboard, and you're going to have more of a clear direction in terms of building those memories in your children that they go to the bank on for the rest of their lives.
Bob: You know, there may be some husbands or wives who decide that the ideal Christmas gift to give one another this year at Christmas is a gift of a Weekend to Remember. You can go to our website at FamilyLife.com for more information about how you can get a gift certificate and put it under the tree and have it to open on Christmas morning and plan now that sometime this spring you're going to take a weekend and get away when the conference comes to a city near you or if you want to travel outside of your area to a city where the conference is being held and make a getaway weekend out of it. There are all kinds of possibilities.
Go to our website, FamilyLife.com, and there is more information there about the Weekend to Remember conference, dates and locations are listed there as well. There is also information about Tim Kimmel's book, which is called "Little House on the Freeway," and if you're interested in getting a copy, we have it in our FamilyLife Resource Center. When you get to our home page, on the right side of the screen, you'll see a box that says "Today's Broadcast." Just click where it says "Learn More," and that will take you to an area of the site where you can find out more about Tim's book, find out more about the Weekend to Remember, and there are other resources we have listed there as well.
Again, the website is FamilyLife.com. If it's easier to call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, go ahead and give us a call. Someone on our team will let you know how you can have the resources you need sent out to you. Once again, the number is 1-800-FLTODAY.
You know, this is the time of year when folks are focused on the holiday season trying to maintain the kind of spiritual focus that we've been talking about this week and yet, at the same time, there are all of the details of the holiday season – getting gifts for folks, travel plans, and it may be that some of our listeners, Dennis, are having a more laid back Christmas this year because of the economic challenges that a lot of families have been through this past year. We've experienced some of those challenges as a ministry.
We are hoping, though, that many of our listeners will be able to consider making a year-end donation to FamilyLife Today. In fact, we've had some friends who have come along and agreed to match every donation we receive here at FamilyLife on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a total of $425,000, and we're hoping to take full advantage of that matching gift opportunity. So we hope that if FamilyLife Today has had an impact in your marriage and in your family over the last year, you'll be able to consider making a year-end contribution to help support the ministry and keep us on the air in this community.
Dennis: That's right, Bob, and I'm reminded of Mary, who called in and said there are really four reasons why FamilyLife Today is so important in her life. She said, "Number one, FamilyLife Today is a radio classroom. It gives me practical, nuts and bolts training." Secondly, she said, "FamilyLife gives instruction, hope, comfort, and inspiration." And you know what? That is why we do what we do. Third, she said, "FamilyLife gives blueprints in the confusion of all the voices of what family is supposed to look like," and I sure hope people find clarity here every day on FamilyLife Today. And, finally, she said, "FamilyLife is a lighthouse in the storms of life."
You know what? If any of those are true in terms of how we've helped you or maybe all four of them are – could I just ask you for a personal favor? Would you pick up a phone or go on the Internet and make a generous donation here at year-end? Your dollar is going to be matched by another dollar and, frankly, we need your help.
Bob: Well, and, again, our website is FamilyLife.com. You can make your donation online or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY, and make your donation over the phone, and let me just say thanks in advance. We do appreciate your partnership with us and your financial support of this ministry.
Tomorrow we're going to talk about how you can find a little breathing room in your life, and it may turn out that the stress you're experiencing isn't related to your schedule. We'll talk more about that tomorrow with our guest, Tim Kimmel. I hope you can be back with us as well.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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