Not that we're not still busy during the summer. We're putting the finishing touches on that townhouse, and just had Bible Camp 2009. There are art classes and piano lessons, writing to be done, and organization to be completed before the foray into school in the fall. The absence of that extra straw of home schooling, study, and grading does makes for a load that feels lighter, though. Some school days I feel like I'm losing control of our schedule because of the sheer amount that must be accomplished. This summer I find myself standing on the precipice of the coming school year wondering how to avoid the imbalances that we inevitably experience. How to keep life in control? How to create balance for our family? I think these ideas might help.
1. Say yes
Look for the things that only you can do. Only you can have your own relationship with Jesus each day. Only you can be a wife to your own husband. Only you can be a mom to your own kids. There are many things that you can do, but just a few that can be done only by you. These are things that you say yes to first.
2. Say no
A much harder task. No one likes to be the bad guy who says no when asked for help. I try to be available in the important areas, but during the school year, I try not to pick up any extra responsibilities. An example of this is children's author Kristi Holl, who gave up going to any kind of house party in order to preserve her writing time, which was getting eaten up by unimportant extra activities. In a business vein, evaluate your time usage and check whether activities are going to pay you, or make you pay.
3. Say maybe
Use caution when making commitments. THINK IT OVER FIRST!
If you are married and/or a parent, then there are other people in your life who depend on you in some capacity. They need to be considered before you make time commitments. This consideration takes time and should not be done on the fly. Weigh the pros and cons before you make a final commitment.
Also, note the difference between considering and consulting. Children should be considered. Your spouse should be consulted. In society as we know it nowadays, adults often allow their children to call the shots for the family schedule. This is not healthy for children, who will end up thinking the world revolves around them as a result, or the parents, who will be run ragged trying to do everything on the calendar. You are the leader. Your children must adapt their schedule to yours first and foremost. (Some friends of ours allow each of their three children to choose only one extra-curricular activity to keep their family balanced.)
4. Get into the Word and remember: life wasn't meant to be stressful.
Although God created you with the resilience to endure great pressure, He doesn't want you to live under it daily. We're not supposed to be anxious for anything. We like to blame our schedules for our problems, but a lot of us have created the stress in our own lives by not making good decisions for ourselves or our families. By being grounded in the Word of God, you'll make better choices. God has a destiny for you and for each member of your family. As you press in for the wisdom and understanding He has put in His Word for you, the right choices will be more obvious. It will be easier to hear that quiet voice of the Holy Spirit guiding you daily. Life will still be busy, but you'll have the balance that you long for.
If you have more ideas for maintaining balance, share them with us all!