Back to School Challenge: Taking Control of Your Family Calendar

Happy Tuesday!

Well, Boy Child has officially flown back into the nest. My sweet Mama was kind enough to remind me that I and two of my brothers did the same. She also gave me some very sage advice: Enjoy them while you have them home. Enjoy them. While they’re home. Sigh. So that got me thinking that we need to get back into the habit of having a family dinner night. Just one night a week where we all sit down at the table at the SAME TIME and enjoy a meal.

So while both of my children are adults, we still occupy the same house and have to intentionally make time for that. It’s hard because we all work – plus Boy Child is going back to school – but I’m going to try. And while we are the typical “Back to School” family with little kiddos, a lot of this post still applies. I originally wrote about this back in August, 2013, but it bears repeating. 🙂

Some of you have kids who have already started back to school. If not, it’s just around the corner. If you’re not affected by the school calendar, you can call this your end of summer challenge. 🙂 I’m going to address something that I see as a real problem with so many people today: busyness. So often, when I ask someone how they are, they respond with, “Busy.” Or tired. Or stressed. They wish they had time to just sit and relax for a few minutes each day. They wish they had time to make dinner at home. They wish they had one night a week that they didn’t have some activity or another to get to.

Guess what? YOU are the genie in charge of your calendar (and, as a result, your kids’ calendars as well, at least to some extent), so you can grant your own wish. So consider what you put on there very, very carefully. When it starts looking a little crowded, remember that it’s okay to say “no.” To activities. To obligations. Yes, even to your kids.  If you’re going to make a schedule and stick to it – not a bad idea at all – then schedule in some down time every day and aim for at least one weeknight free from outside obligations. It is good for you to have some down time. It’s good for your kids. It’s just good for your spouse. It’s good for your marriage. It’s NEEDED for your sanity.

So.. my challenge to you this week is this: Think before you act when it comes to your calendar and your schedule. First, practice saying “no.” It doesn’t come easy to a lot of us. But is really not a bad word. Doesn’t even have four letters. 🙂 Then, when you (or your kids or family) are offered  an opportunity – whether it’s sports, the PTA, a church activity, committees, clubs, etc. – tell the person who asks you that you’ll get back to them. Tell them that you have to check your calendar and discuss it with your spouse.

Do NOT immediately say “yes.” You may say “yes” eventually, but don’t say it on the spur of the moment before THINKING and LOOKING AT YOUR CALENDAR. Take some time to seriously consider what saying “yes” will mean to you. Is it one hour per week for real? Or is it going to turn into several hours per week and even on the weekend? If, after looking at your calendar and discussing it with those who will be affected (your family), make a conscious and thoughtful decision. If it’s more than you want to take on, just say “no.” Just. Say. No. The world will not end. The earth will not tilt off its axis. Someone else will do the job. Really.

If it’s something that will enrich your life in some way or something that you really want to do, then by all means, say “yes.” Just remember: Sometimes you have to say “no” to good things so that you can say “yes” to the best things. If you say “yes” to everyone and everything, eventually something you really, really feel passionate about and want to do will come along and you won’t have time for it. How sad is that?

This is something that I have struggled with in the past. Sometimes I still do. But I have gotten better at saying “no” to people and things. Sometimes there are things I’d like to do but I know that I don’t want to or can’t give it the time it will actually require. It’s better to give fewer things your best shot than to stretch yourself too thin and not be able to give your best to anything. So determine what’s best for you and say no to things that are just “good” or that will just be draining your time and energy.

Get out those calendars.  Take a good hard look at them. Don’t add anything that you really don’t want to do or that is going to be a source of stress and anxiety. With your family, choose a day that will be free of extracurricular activities. (The middle of the week is a good one for that if you can swing it, but it might be Friday or Saturday). Next, add things that MUST be done. I personally think that a great rule of thumb is to limit your children’s extracurricular activities to one – maybe two – in a season/time period, but that’s just me. I find it tiring just to hear about friends’ running their kids somewhere every day of the week. I can’t imagine actually doing it! Be selective. Be careful. Be honest – with yourself and others. Don’t take on more than you can handle. Just don’t.

“A full calendar does not equal a full life.”

Y’all have a great week! And remember: It really, really is okay to say “no.” Really.




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