Boy, did I have alligators to whack, former procrastinators, when our kiddos were students. Sadly, I pointed them into alligator-infested waters too. I thought if we scheduled tightly and worked harder, we could manage to do everything we wanted to do. So wrong.
I admired parents who told their children each of them could have one or two activities outside of school. I mistakenly thought limits were good for families with lots of kids, but we didn’t have to observe that. With many opportunities and many interests, we sometimes overloaded. With overload you don’t gain the benefits available through your chosen activities, you don’t make as good a contribution, and you negatively affect home life – all while overstressed.
There’s going to be stress. That’s part of life as a breathing person. In a family, stress is part of coordinating numerous people each with a variety of needs, interests, activities.
Being intentional about activities helps simplify things. We are careful to protect the things essential to personal and family life. Dinner together four times a week? Attention to school work? Then we can take advantage of activities as instruments in accomplishing priorities. We stay alert to make sure activities don’t take over priorities or take over direction of the family.
Here are some considerations:
Determine your priorities for the year – not your activities but the major areas in which you believe God is directing you to learn and/or contribute. If we view activities as channels available for learning and contribution, we can more deliberately discern where we should participate.
Define what knowledge or skills you want to develop or impart through the activity. Being a team player, learning to think on your feet, cut 5 seconds off last year’s time.
Specify character traits you’d like to develop in yourself or encourage in your child. Patience, kindness, becoming a better listener.
What limitations will you set? Look at time and performance demands, work, school, transportation.
Be alert to lesser known opportunities. The well -known coach, the most popular team may not be the best place to be. Maybe a lesser known director or club will provide more opportunity for learning and service. Maybe a different activity altogether is the better place to pursue your priority.
Streamline transportation. Drive Susie’s son to soccer and she can drive your daughter to choir.
Leave margin. Breathing room enables enjoyment and learning. Rushing stifles them.
Talk with family and friends about what you’re learning. Toss around ideas. Make the priority focus (the skill, knowledge, or character trait) a frequent topic of conversation and encouragement.
Enjoy. Having fun is a valid reason for participation.
See “Maximizing Activities” August 21, 2017 for more examples and ideas.
When we discern our priorities before signing up for activities, we can deliberately limit our efforts to what will serve us and others best. Less stress, more effective learning and contribution. Fewer alligators.
What activities will best serve your God-directed priorities this year?