And so it begins.
Ballet, karate, Awana, play dates, soccer team, chess club, LEGO league, book group. Since my girls started school two weeks ago, we’ve been inundated with opportunities to fill our family calendar. Good opportunities, all of them, I mean, who doesn’t love a good jump kick or book chat? But there’s only so much we can handle before my crazy threshold gets tripped. Yours, too?
The kids say they want to participate. Right now my eight-year-old is begging for a fall ballet class, and my kindergartener thinks she’ll have plenty of energy for karate two days a week, on top of Tuesday night Awana plus my Wednesday night rehearsals, Thursday Bible study, Friday family game night, daily piano practice and, oh, homework—there’s that, too.
Of course I want my kids to enjoy new experiences and meaningful enrichment activities. Ballet is good for them! Karate is character-building! Awana instills godly values, who can argue with that? It all sounds like a great idea at sign-up time—until the kids come home from a long day of school tired and crabby and suddenly uninterested in all those super fun extracurriculars.
My husband is the anti-scheduler. He values margin and encourages me to build in more of it than I think we’ll need. Sometimes that ticks me off, like he’s squashing all our fun, but I admit he’s usually right. Because when I stare down a week in my own agenda with no white space, no time to rest or think or breathe, I get grouchy and demand to know who put all this junk on the calendar.
Of course, it was me.
I did it to myself.
And I hate it.
So why in the world would I subject my kids to the same frustrations?
“Rest is not just a good idea; it’s God’s idea. Rest is part of His plan for our lives, and if we cooperate with it, we will find that we run with a greater efficiency and purpose. God’s desire for us is not that we merely ‘rest from work,’ but that we ‘work from a place of rest,’ abiding in Him and allowing Him to recharge our spiritual batteries.” — Christine Caine, First Things First daily devotion
Working from a place of rest. What must that be like?! To have enough energy and enthusiasm to do what matters most because you haven’t already drained your soul on the stuff that matters less. I’ve spent a lot of years working from a place of exhaustion, doing doing doing, going going going, and now I’m nearly allowing my kids to do it, too.
No more. Not this school year. Children don’t need an agenda. They need freedom—to play and imagine and chatter and create, and for heaven’s sake sometimes they just need to chill after a seven-hour stretch of focusing on the teacher’s instructions. They can’t do that when day after day is filled with more structure. More work. More pressure to perform.
Perhaps this year the greatest opportunity we can give our children is the gift of NO.
In our house, as much as it hurts to say it, that means no to karate and ballet, at least for now. No to running crazy with our eyeballs rolled back in our heads. No to overscheduled kids, a stressed out mom, and too many French fries in the minivan.
We’ll still sign up for a few selected things. Just not everything. Because a wise and judicious NO is actually a YES to whatever matters more—family time, rest, and sanity.
I kind of like my sanity, don’t you?
We moms have a role to play in keeping it.
So this school year, let’s fight the crazy together, amen?
“He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven” (Psalm 107:29–30).