We live in a world where everyone competes to out-busy the next person. You cannot join a Mom conversation without the eventual comparing of notes. Someone will always be busier or have it harder or be working more hours (on a smaller budget, of course). We try to do it all—or at least more than the next family.
But, at what cost?
This year I am working to step away from the chaos. Instead of joining the competition for Busiest Family of the Year, we are taking a mulligan and regrouping. We have developed a grid that we are working to enforce. When looking at our family calendar, we use the following four filters before scheduling an event:
1. Saying “Yes” to one thing means saying “No” to something else.
We all get the same 24 hours each day with just 7 days in a week. If I say “yes” to swim lessons, that means I have to say “no” to one of our evenings together as a family. That may be alright if we have the other six evenings at home, but my weeks all begin with at least three weeknights already spoken for. Adding storytime to your week may be a great learning opportunity for your children, but that also may mean a rushed morning that disrupts your family’s day in the middle of a tight week. Saying “yes” to one thing always means saying “no” to something else. That something else may just be time on the couch, but it could be something much more valuable.
2. What will the long-term impact of this activity be?
Is starting this activity today worth the twelve year commitment that seems to follow everyone who starts it? If your child does not have a future in the NBA, do you really need to keep him on the travel team for his entire middle school career? I am all for sports as learning opportunities for kids. I have zero athletic abilities (cornhole is a challenge for me), but I played Little League softball and elementary and middle school basketball and learned life skills I still use today. But I recognized in high school that I did not have the talent to compete for a spot with my peers, so instead of wasting my efforts, I poured my time into something I was actually good at—Speech Team. I refined my impromptu speaking skills and even placed in the state my senior year. That skill has benefited me in every stage of life since then. That time commitment I made at age fifteen is still reaping benefits in my life; being a basketball team manager would not have.
3. If the schedule is too full, reserve time for a free day.
When we start to get overwhelmed with the amount of ink on our calendar, we immediately pick a day to draw a giant “X” through. This “X” is our excuse to take some time to regroup when chaos is unavoidable. When a friend asks if we are free, we simply say, “I’m sorry, we have something on our calendar for that day.” We take these days very seriously. They are free of appointments, grocery shopping and chores. These days are just about being together as a family and getting the rest that we need. And there is usually a movie thrown somewhere into the mix, too.
4. Remember, it is OK to say no.
Saying ‘no’ is not something you owe anyone an explanation for. A polite, “I’m sorry, I do not feel that this activity is in my family’s best interest at this point in time” is more than enough. Saying ‘no’ to protect your family’s time and resources is a noble decision, and one from which your household will benefit. Practice saying it and put a safeguard in place if you need to. Start saying ‘no’ more and giving that extra time and energy to those who need it most. They will thank you later.
I am sure there will be no medal given for my efforts at being less busy. There will be no interviews or guest appearances on talk shows. But at the end of the day, knowing the investment that I have made into the people most important to me will be more than worth it. That prize is one I cannot wait to win!
Are you ready to join me in more intentional scheduling this year?