Have you ever had a deep inner desire to take control of your out-of-control life and make it simpler? I did! When the last of my four children entered kindergarten, I thought I was home free. Life would be simpler. I would have more time, and the stress level would be much lower. NOT.
In order to pay for my kids’ private Christian schooling, I had to work, teaching K-12 Music at their school. Unfortunately, many of my students thought music was just a subject to goof off in and and make an easy A. The frustration mounted.
Evenings were filled with homework, school projects (the bane of my existence), and ballgames. My kid’s schedules were ruling our lives, as we dashed from point A to point B. Every night, we rushed home to get all the kids showered and in bed at a decent hour.
I felt so tired of the rat race, and one day, the thought occurred to me: “Why am I teaching other people’s kids during the day and my own at night with homework? Why can’t I just teach my own kids during the day, and we can have our evenings free?”
And that’s exactly what I did. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone, but for my family, it was the right answer. We had a few bumps along the way and had to make a few adjustments, but I finally felt at peace that this was what I was supposed to be doing. And it felt good.
Perhaps, you are also tired of running around like a chicken with your head cut off because you’re trying to meet everyone’s expectations. Or you may feel like you are busy performing needless activities but will feel guilty if you don’t. The truth is, you don’t have to do the same thing as everyone else. Sometimes the best solutions come from thinking outside the box.
Here are some guidelines I’ve used to help make decisions for my family:
1. Is it a good fit for your family? Does it jive with everyone’s schedules, or is it a headache to make it work? Are you more agitated because of it, and in turn, do you take it out on your family? How does your family feel about this activity or responsibility? If there is a constant struggle to make it work, it may either need to be adjusted or eliminated.
2. Does it point your children towards a path you would like them to follow? Does this particular activity shape your children into something that will help them in the future? Is it something you would like for them to implement with their own family someday? Does it fit your child’s personality?
3. Is this decision about how you want others to perceive you, or is it about what’s best for your kids?T his is a tough one. A lot of times we take on things without really considering if we are doing them just because it’s the expected norm. Sometimes we feel guilty, as if we’re not providing enough stimulation for our kids because “everyone else is doing it.” Consider your inner motives. If the activity truly is not beneficial for your kids, it may be time for a change.
4. What is your husband’s opinion on the subject, and how does this affect him? If you are married, everything flows much more smoothly when you and your husband are on the same team. There’s no substitute for a united front. Have you asked him how he feels about the matter? If he is unsupportive, uncomfortable, or just plain indifferent to the idea, you probably need to have a talk. Approach it objectively, and listen to what he has to say.
5. Do you have inner peace about the matter? You know whether or not your gut is against you. Popping the Rolaids and getting on with your day “grinning and bearing it” is not ideal. There’s something to be said for that nagging voice in the back of your mind. Take some time to list the pros and cons. Mull it over, pray, give it a few more days if necessary, and then make a decision and stick with it. Chances are, it won’t be the last time you have that opportunity.
One last bit of advice: view each year as a fresh start. If you drop something from your schedule this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t take it back up the next. Your kid will not be scarred for life if he doesn’t play ball for one season or if she sits out of dance for a year.
If you are reading this article, chances are, you’re seeking the best for your children already. If you feel like life has gotten too busy or out-of-control, all is not lost. With a bit of introspection and adjustment to the schedule, you can find peace and balance in your daily life with your children.
QUESTION: What measuring stick do you use to decide if an activity is best for your family?
CHALLENGE: Take an inventory of your family’s activities. Use the suggestions in this article to evaluate them and make changes, if needed.
Images provided by Ruthie Gray.