My husband and I sat down and looked at the calendar yesterday. The next three weeks are nuts, and we don't even have the hockey game schedule yet. Between soccer tournaments, Girl Scout campouts, hockey practice and music lessons, we're booked. I don't even know when our next open weekend is.
Fall is always our crazy time of year when it comes to the schedule. Both soccer and hockey swing into full gear, other commitments pick up and school projects start rolling in. I often feel like one of those people in the circus who keep plates spinning at the top of a pole. I have to keep running up and down the line to keep those plates moving or they'll all fall.
Our sermon yesterday was on creating margin in your life, leaving space in your life for the unexpected. Having margin means we can drop everything and help a friend. It means we can spend some time with our kids outside of driving them to the next event.
I've been pondering this topic for the past few weeks. I let go of a few things that I love this fall to create some margin in my life during the day. While my kids are at school, I have plenty of margin. I have enough time to work, write and do some things around the house.
It's when the kids come home that we struggle. We have set limits on the things our kids can do. They're only allowed to play one sport at a time. We try to reserve at least one evening a week for all of us to be home. We do our best to sit down to the table for dinner together as many times a week as humanly possible -- even if it means we eat at 4:30 in the afternoon.
On weeks like this one, I struggle with the topic of margin. My girls love the sports they play. It's good for their bodies, and they've learned great life lessons playing sports. But, playing sports means they're each gone two nights of the week. We have one overlapping practice, so that's three nights of the week we surrender to sports. Add in AWANA at church on Sunday nights and we've used up four nights of our week.
With just two activities, we've given up more than half of our evenings. Some days I struggle to find the balance between what my girls love and how much time we need together as a family. I honestly don't know what the answer is. I'd love for it to be cut and dried, but it's not. Where do you draw the line when your kid is talented and loves an activity? How much is too much?
I know families who don't have their kids in anything, and I know families whose kids are never home because the kids each play three sports and two instruments. I don't think either of those extremes is right for our family, but in weeks like this one, I look at the calendar and wonder if we've got the right balance.
I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to this topic. What I do know is that we can't teach our kids and influence their lives in the way God calls us to if we're never with them. If we don't have time to really talk with our kids, then we can't know what's going on in their lives. If we never see them outside of the confines of the car, we can't help them deal with the issues that arise in their lives.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says "These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Note that this verse, says "talk about them when you sit at home." All your training for your kids shouldn't be "along the road." Sometimes, we need to just sit at home and spend some time together with nothing on the schedule. Finding that balance is the trick.
Whatever the right balance is for your family, make sure having time together is a component. You can't help your kids grow in their faith if there's no time for you to spend with them.
I'd love to hear how your family deals with balancing your schedules. What limits do you set on your kids' activities? How do you make sure you have time together as a family?