A couple of weeks into the school year, we’re settling into our routine. As the weather cools down, our calendar fills up. Dance performances, college visits, job interviews – the way it looks right now, we’ll blink and it’ll be Advent. As I added all of Jaiya’s dance performances to the calendar a couple of days ago, she looked at it and let out a huge sigh.
Me: What’s the matter?
Jaiya: Oh, just looking at all of these calendar notifications, trying to not be overwhelmed.
Me: What’s overwhelming about it? It’s the same as last year.
Jaiya: Yeah, but it didn’t seem like it then.
Me: Well, this is the first time in six years that we’ve put everything on the calendar in the beginning of the year.
Jaiya. Hmm, I guess that’s true. But looking at it now, it seems like more than before.
Sure, I thought to myself, I’ll bet it does look like a lot. Then I looked at her face across the room, and saw the worry cloud forming over her head. I refrained from making any comments about what real busy-ness looked like, because I realized it would only make things worse.
Me: Well, don’t let it overwhelm you; you can do it. It’s just helpful for me to have it all on the calendar now, so I can make sure to be available for everything, instead of scheduling something during a dance performance I forgot about.
Jaiya: Oh, sure, that makes sense. I guess you do have to get me where I need to go.
As parents, it’s up to us to help our kids get to where they need to go, in more ways than just logistically. Our children look to us in times of transition to see how we respond. How do you face new construction on your favorite route to school? What do you do when the dance teacher holds the kids back an extra ten minutes for another run-through, while you wait outside parked in a no-parking zone? What do you say when your teen wants to be picked up at 4:00 instead of 3:30, but you’ve already left work?
I’ve worked very hard through the years to not add value to a busy schedule. Recently, I read an article that talked about the value of time in today’s culture; that a busy schedule increases your value as a person. As a parent, and new youth minister, I have to believe that following Jesus’ lead might offer a different perspective.
Jesus’ ministry got started at the Wedding at Cana, and ended three years later. He didn’t have long to do his work. He had to get as much preaching and teaching in while he had time in which to do it. Still, over and over again, he showed us the value in rest and prayer. Jesus knew that he couldn’t keep going at a rapid pace without recharging his spirit. We, his followers, are no different. We need to build moments of stillness, rest, and peace into our days, our weeks, and our months so that we can remember those moments when life gets overwhelming.
This summer, we added a new routine of going to the gym together in addition to our outdoor hikes. Now that school has resumed, the girls can’t always join me at the gym, but I keep going. It’s imperative to my continued growth and health to maintain my self-care routines. My hope is that when the girls get older, self-care has become such a habit for them that they will continue to practice it, just like Jesus did. Think about your own childhood. Which do you remember more: what your parents said, or what they did? What do you want your children to remember about you?
I want my children to remember me as a person who loved them deeply, but who loved herself just as much. As a follower of Jesus, I’m doing my best to adhere to his teachings, including loving my neighbor as I love myself. As I model how to love our neighbors, I also have to model how to love myself by taking just as good care of myself as I take of everyone else.
To all of you with overcrowded schedules, I encourage you to add one more kind of appointment: schedule some unscheduled time. Plan a few hours to do nothing, either with or without your family – preferably both. Plan to drive a route to school that takes longer but is much more enjoyable by packing lunches at night and laying out your outfit. (Yes, yours!) Be willing to retreat and remove yourself from plans and situations that don’t serve you. Your kids are overwhelmed enough. Show them how to deal with their hectic lives the way Jesus did: by stepping away for a while to recharge.
How do you manage a hectic schedule with your family?
How can you add more unscheduled time to your day, week, or month?