For a long time as a mother, it felt like the right thing to do was to get up early and read my Bible before my kids awoke. That seemed like what “good moms” did, and it is what I had done all my adult life. It would have been a great plan, except that for the first few years of motherhood, I was seriously sleep-deprived. So, to be honest, many years went by where I wasn’t studying my Bible like I always had. I felt like I was going backwards in holiness. Because, I wondered, how in the world could I have a quiet time with little children around?

One day an older mom mentioned that one of her “educational” goals for her kids was for them to learn how to have a quiet time. This was a new thought to me. I guess I could teach my kids what it looks like to study God’s word!

I did, after all, want them to learn to spend time with God. It took some planning, and it was more “lively” than prior devotional hours, but it was also incredibly rewarding. Here is how I did it:I made sure to have our “quiet time” when the kids had their needs met. They had exercised, had a big lunch, and plenty of play. Next, I rounded up a bunch of kids Bibles. Storybooks, picture ones, ones with maps and charts…I laid them out on the floor and let them choose one. Then I had the kids each choose a comfy spot, with their pillow and blanket and a stuffed friend. Do I

need to mention they couldn’t be on the same couch? If you’ve ever had kids, or been around them for seven minutes, you understand why. Then I got my coffee ready and gave them their “coffee,” which is to say I poured them orange

juice into fun kids’ mugs. I think a fun mug is really important. They need to know, like you, that this time is special. Finally, I told them the rule of our quiet time: you can’t talk when we read our Bibles! I told them I was setting my alarm for ten minutes. Then I read my Bible while they read theirs! It was like a Christmas miracle.

Full disclosure: the first time I tried this, my toddler was napping. If you don’t try that tactic, I would include a super fun snack, and expect the “no talking” rule to be followed rather loosely. I recently got out of the habit of our shared quiet time and my son said, “Mom, you know what we need to do? We need to do that thing when we all read our Bibles together.” It nearly made me cry! Shortly after this, my sister posted a sweet picture on Instagram. Both she and her little daughter were “reading” identical Bibles, and this was her caption: “When I got two of the same Bible for Christmas, I thought long and hard about which one of my friends would benefit from it…not sure why it took me so long to pick the perfect friend.” It may be shorter, more chaotic, and more effort, but this devotional time is rewarding. Not only are we learning to spend time with Jesus, but so are our kids!

Jessica Smartt – Former English teacher turned homeschooling mama of three, author of Memory-Making Mom and Let Them Be Kids, and motherhood blogger, “Smartter” Each Day.

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