Studies have shown that the word most often heard by young children is “no.” That means parents or caregivers say “no” more often than any other thing. More than “yes.” More than “good job.” More than “I love you.”
I don’t think this is true in our household. We frequently say something else to our kids. I wish that I could tell you that it’s constructive or nurturing. It’s not.
Like a lot of people in this crazy and fast-paced world, we tend to stay busy much of the time. There are work demands, family duties, household chores, extracurricular activities, and yes of course, preparing for TEOTWAWKI. And somewhere in all of that hustle and bustle, we must find time to eat and sleep.
All of that takes time. And in today’s society, there’s not a lot of that to spare. That’s why many are eating fast food from the drive-thru while going to pick up our dry cleaning from the cleaners. That’s not healthy, or safe.
In our home, we’re looking for ways to slow down, to break the habit of “hurry.”
It’s not easy. Most everything we do could be considered a “good” thing. It’s good to have a source of income. It’s good to have an organized home. It’s good to have a well-balanced-life with a few extracurricular activities that support and reinforce your values and morals. And of course, it’s good to prepare for the future.
We don’t indulge in a lot of excesses. We don’t spend time watching television shows. We don’t have spare time hobbies like golf or softball. And we don’t spent hours shopping.
So where do we draw the line? How can you slow down if all of the things you’re doing are good?
These are good questions and I don’t have the answers for them.
What I do have is more questions. Questions that can hopefully help clarify priorities and highlight the areas in life where you can cut back. Your answers to these questions may also help identify and even validate other areas in life, areas where you are already spending your time wisely.
- Why are you doing it, really? Do you really enjoy the activities that you are doing? Or are you trying to keep up with the neighbors across the street or down the road? Is it something that you truly enjoy, or are you keeping up appearances and chasing after the wind?
- Are you telling yourself it’s for the kids? I’ve heard several parents who admit that they are running themselves ragged because “I don’t want deprive my kids of the opportunity.” Life is about choices. By allowing their sports schedule and social calendars to dictate your life, you are depriving them of the opportunity to learn to prioritize and make tough choices.
- Is the activity having a positive impact and is consistent with your beliefs? After some activities, you feel better about yourself and others. Martial arts training teaches discipline, provides exercise, and gives healthy opportunities to compete. Getting up very early one day each week to have breakfast with a prayer group can be energizing.
- Will the activity be useful after TEOTWAWKI? Some activities are really just time fillers now. There maybe some redeeming qualities about them if you really stretch it, but you’d be hard pressed to name more than a few good things. Other activities, such as 4-H or Scouts teach skills and build character that will be useful regardless of what the future may hold for us. This is something to give careful consideration to- the opportunities to learn worthwhile skills and gain useful knowledge are plentiful now, but may not always be.
You may find that every activity on your list is good and/or required. Boy Scouting is good. Music lessons are good. Laundry is required. So is grocery shopping.
Perhaps there are changes that you can make to add margin to your life? Simply taking a look at what you’re doing can help you to determine other areas to consolidate or ways make better use of your time.
Here are few possibilities.
- How about planning meals in advance to simplify the end of the day? Make use of your crockpot when you’ll be out all day so that you have one less thing to do when you get home.
- Consider making one huge grocery shopping trip each month rather than going to the store every other day. A once-a-week dash in for more milk and bread will help tide you over.
- As positive and uplifting as going to church can be, maybe skipping the Wednesday night service for a peaceful and restful evening at home would be even more beneficial? If small children are late to bed and are irritable the next morning, maybe you could wait until they are a little older before picking up midweek service. Of course, this goes for late sports practices, etc. too.
- Volunteering to coordinate some activities may a bit of extra work to your life, but simultaneously it may provide a bit more predictability as well. For example, you can schedule when the meetings will be held rather than being at the mercy of another’s schedule.
- We have friends who limit their children to one activity each to simplify their lives a little. As a bonus though, if they want to join a sibling in an activity (simultaneous meeting times…), they can do that.
- Make a list of responsibilities, activities, etc. and prioritize them according to their value. You may be surprised to find that you are spending quite a bit of time on something you don’t really find that important, but it’s become a habit.