September 7, 2011

Just Too Busy

When our older girls were elementary school age, we spent a lot of time taking them from piano lessons, to dance lessons, to swim class, to skating lessons, to church activities, to birthday parties, and girl scouts, and home school field trips and on and on the list goes.  

This took a remarkable amount of both our time and financial resources.  But we did it under the impression that it was the way to have well rounded children.  We were doing for our kids what our parents couldn't do and thus making a better life for them.

Then a wonderful thing happened.  My husband was laid off.  I am not being sarcastic, folks.  It was truly an answer to prayer.  But that is another post for another time.  

We had no clue how long he would be out of work.  One friend of ours in the same field had already been out of work for a year.  We had just bought our house, had our fourth child, and bought a bigger vehicle to hold our growing gang.  That left all our savings completely depleted.  The company had been laying off for weeks and those who had gotten their pink slips earlier received a nice package to get them by until they found a new job.  However, by the time they got to Allen, their resources were as depleted as ours.  His severance was the computer on his desk and a check for the hours he had worked the day he received the news.

In order to reduce spending as much as possible, we withdrew from all our activities.  The next 14 weeks were spent at home, all of us together, working around the yard, doing school, chopping fire wood and enjoying being together.  It was Heaven.

When Allen returned to work, it was just before Memorial Day.  We decided to forgo our lessons and activities through the summer and resume when we started school in the fall.  

But here's the thing.  When fall rolled around, we realized how much we had enjoyed not running ourselves into exhaustion.  We asked the girls their opinion and discovered they hadn't missed a thing in the six months we'd been at home.  We decided that we would only continue with piano lessons, as they were the one activity they could clearly use for God' purpose.  

Since then I have sat back and relished the joy of truly being a full time stay at home mom versus the stay at home mom who is never home.  We have been blessed by our evenings being filled with family time and meals around the table together versus running here and there.  We have delighted in home schooling rather than trying to fit our schooling in between running here and there and every where.  Not to mention all the money we saved.  Many people ask how we can afford to take our large family on vacation each year.  That is quite a post to write.  But a large part of it, is the money we don't spend on lessons, uniforms etc... In every way this decision has been a blessing to us that we nor our children have ever regretted for a minute.

Allen and I have sadly shaken our heads over and over and over again as we see parents in that rat race, supposedly in the name of doing what's best for their kids, while the whole family is suffering and lacking what they need most, a united family with time to enjoy and explore their relationships as they grow in their relationships with each and the Lord and serve Him together.

It isn't just soccer, karate, swim team, art lessons, baseball, music lessons and ballet that are the culprits either.  We have been heartbroken over the years to watch child after child grow up in church and then leave the family and the church first chance they get.  We prayed over this and watched and examined and tried to find out how to avoid this awful fate with our family.  The one question that kept coming back to us was how these families can spend all their time in church for three services a week and 4 nights of various activities and yet their kids want nothing to do with the things of the Lord.  Sadly, the answer seemed to be that they were so busy with what they considered important church business (and I am not saying it isn't important) that they forgot to be a family and keep some time to nurture those hearts and tender relationships.

Since coming to those realizations, we have very carefully weighed every activity, every invitation and every opportunity to serve.  We strive to meet several criteria for anything to be accepted as worthy of our time.  Is it something the Lord would approve of?  Will it have everlasting value?  Does it fit with our spiritual and family goals?  Will it build family relationships?  Will this become a time sink?  

You would be amazed at how things can be put into perspective with just those few probing questions!  

I could go on much longer about this topic but instead I will share by way of introducing another of my summer reads.  By understanding our philosophy, you might then understand why I got so excited by this new book Just Too Busy by Joanne Kraft. 

I wish I could make every mom read this book!  It sums up what I have tried to share with moms for ten years now.  Unfortunately, my advice often falls on deaf ears.  Joanne has a way of sharing her family journey through a "Radical Sabbatical" with humor and yet poignant insight that reaches not just to child rearing but also family relationships, your family growth in the Lord and a each individual's personal walk with God.

By far, an excellent read that you should, without a doubt, make time for.

6 comments :

  1. I pray that this post reaches many who are stretched too thin. I've been there. I can't tell you how many parents I hear who talk about how busy they are running their kids hear and there. And they say "You think you're busy now, just wait until your kids are older." So many parents think much like you and I both did, that in order to be well rounded and (dare I say) social, the kids must be involved in activities.

    The only reason we do gymnastics is because it brought our daughter out of a shell and she really enjoys it. If we ever feel like we're losing time, we would pull her out without a question. For now, it's working out ok.

    Thanks for taking the time to write. You write beautifully and trust me, this did not fall on def ears - at least not for me!

    Blessings to you. :)

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  2. Great post, Kat.....beautifully written, indeed!

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  3. We tried, oh, how we tried, to be those parents...the ones who happily go from activity to activity with multiple children and it just didn't work for us. Like their parents, our children need unfilled/unscheduled time to remain sane. Our marriage requires more than just comparing schedules to make sure someone is picking up Kid A from Activity C while getting Kid B to Activity D and, oh, don't forget Kid C must get to Activity A. For our family, for our children, that is not good parenting...it just doesn't work for us. Nice to know we are not the only ones.

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  4. Great post.

    I remember encouraging another homeschool mom who was doing A LOT of running around about this topic.

    I told her that she needed to remember the word HOME in homeschooling..

    I love being in and around my home, surrounded by my family.

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  5. our kids have never been involved with all those extra curricular activies. even so, we've learned that when life is simple, it's so much better.

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  6. I just found your blog through the constest you posted about in a prior post~ I have enjoyed my time visiting!

    What a fitting post. We, too, are a homeschooling family who love Jesus. Just this afternoon I was trying to talk my teenage daughter into auditioning for a local play~ luckily she reminded me how nice it is to just be home and be a family:)) And she's right!

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