Before we had kids I was warned that everything takes longer with small children around. Five years along my parenting journey, that has indeed been my experience. Leaving the house, tidying up, cooking, mealtimes; all things I did before without really thinking about them. They now however require significant forward planning and acceptance that they will take at least twice as long as you might expect.
So it can be tempting to try to do tasks when our kids are in bed. In the few short hours between kid and adult bedtimes, we try to cram in all sorts of things that used to be normal daytime activities … including ‘generosity’. We are rushing to bake a cake, write a thank you note, wrap a present, sponsor a friend’s marathon attempt, and clear out toys to donate in the hope that no one notices they are gone.
But there is something about doing these tasks between 7am and 7pm which make them more than just tasks. More than things we habitually do without thinking. In the midst of the mess on the kitchen floor and missing shoes and mangled sellotape there are memories being created. There are moments of teaching and life lessons. Attachment is being built and traditions established. This is true as we make our first pizza together, or practise getting the shoes on the right feet, or learn to give to others as a family.
In 1 Timothy 6:18-19 Paul encourages Timothy to command the rich “to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” Sure, I want my kids to learn how to pack their own school bags. But more than that I want them to learn to be generous, and to share, both to bless others now and so that they can “take hold of the life that is truly life”.
Our kids will learn to be generous by watching us, their parents and wider family. As we 'do' generosity together, our children can learn by example and see giving to others as a key part of everyday life when you’re following Jesus.