Last week I was standing in line at the supermarket. It was a giant, industrial space, where a crowd was pressed up again the row of cashiers at the end of the building. I had only a handful of items, and I was hoping to buy them quickly and get out of there. 

It ended up taking longer than I though it would. Know what I’m talking about?

As I waited, I looked past the line in front of me, past the cashier, past the exit aisle running perpendicular to the line, to a large, blank wall. And I thought to myself, where’s the clock?

There was no clock on that great wall, neither was there any other clock to be seen in the building. 

The Case for a Boss Clock

This made me think: culturally speaking, we tend to rely on our own watches and cell phones and biological clocks to tell time. We no longer look outward, we look inward. Another step of separation from the crowd.

No biggie, right? Just take my cell phone out of my pocket (the band on my casio watch broke long ago and I haven’t bothered to replace it) and see what time it is. But my hands were full with my groceries. (I didn’t get a cart, because that would have taken me a few more moments, and all I needed was a handful of items.)

Once I did get my phone out, I would have been met with whatever notifications were on my home screen. I like to tweet in the evenings, so likes and follows tend to heat up around that time. And my Google Calendar notifies me about everything (that’s how I like it).

The need to free a hand, to get the phone out of my pocket, and to muscle past the notifications are barriers for me to know what time it is. I really could have used a nice big “boss clock” on that wall.

“Oh my gosh, look at the time!”

Evenings at home can feel like a race. Get homework done, get dinner made, keep the house clean, supervise the younger kiddos, do bath time, get the kids to bed.

But it’s a race where it’s so easy to sneak in a game of Fruit Ninja, check the news, or fall asleep face first on the bed for 10 minutes.

And up until recently, my wife and I would rely on our own personal devices to tell us what time it is. This almost always results in, “oh my gosh, look what time it is – its almost past the kids’ bedtimes!”

So this week we finally got a clock for the big, blank wall in our dining room. A clearly visible indicator of time. 

Now we, as a family, are more aware of the time, and can be held accountable for it.

3 Tips for More Peaceful Family Evenings at Home

I write this to encourage accountability for families in the evening time – that time when you’re already wiped out from the work day.

But the rigid evening schedule isn’t meant to squeeze even more work out of tired bones. It’s meant to keep evenings on track, so you can maximize your rest when quitting time comes.

Here are 3 tips for handling your family’s evening at home:

  • Get a clearly visible clock. Hang it in the most visible place in your house. I recommend the place where you gather to eat.
  • Have a whiteboard next to it with an agenda spelled out. This gives an opportunity to remind yourself and your family what time it is, what you do at that time, and why. Drilling down to the “why” of things builds trust in a family, and trains us to know what to do when we don’t have a clear agenda.
  • Plan as much of your time as you can. The more detailed the schedule, the less you have to think of what to do when. That frees up your mind not only for the task at hand, but also for other big-picture things. Especially when the task at hand doesn’t take much thought.

Do you have any solutions for planning evenings as a family? I’d love to hear about them – let me know in the comments below!