Change of seasons brings on change of schedules. In my house, we integrate 6 different schedules into a cohesive family unit. It actually looks more like the workings off a beehive or ant hill, with all the frantic coming and going. There are school activities, church activities, sports activities, work activities, social activities, home activities…that’s a lot of activity! With everything going on, it becomes really hard to stay connected as a family. It’s even harder to extend beyond your family to connect with those in your community. We all have different circumstances but there is one constant…we all have 28 hours we are trying to pack into a 24 hour day.
Evaluating all the activities and getting rid of a few clears some time, but inevitably we end up filling that time with new activities, or just expand the time we spend on those that are left. Sometimes, people just go off the grid for a while, pausing everything they do, and reengaging when they come back. That is effective, but usually only while you are gone. Upon return, it takes little time to fill our schedules back, as well be stressed by what we missed while we were gone. Trying to do it all may make our lives full and exciting, but I find it usually makes me short with just about everyone while I’m trying to pack it all in.
Sometimes it can be discouraging, but there are a few things we all can do to ensure that we remain relational in our fast paced world.
- Balance. At the IFC, we use a wheel with five spokes to try to lead a balanced lifestyle. By evaluating your life as five spokes, and spending some time in each spoke, you’ll make more time for everything in your life, and make sure you are not spending too much time in one spoke.
- Schedule it. I know it sounds crazy, but we schedule everything else! Meetings, games, practices, appointments…why not schedule some time to just be relational? My wife has a full life. She also has the gift of making everyone feel special. She is so good at it she receives multiple invites for coffee, lunch, or just to hang out every week. This sounds like a great thing, except when it becomes a burden to be with people because of everything else you have to do. I recommended she set some time aside each week to meet with people, have coffee, etc. Once that time fills up, that’s it for the week. It works well if you practice the next discipline…
- Learn to say NOT NOW…. formerly known as NO. People just don’t like to say NO. I get it. It’s negative, sounds too final and abrupt, and just doesn’t feel as good as YES. Say not now. If your allotted time for that activity is just all used up, put it off until tomorrow, next week, or next month. If you do that you can learn to say not now, and avoid the dreaded N-O word. If you don’t have a problem with saying NO, well for you. If it’s important enough, it’ll fill up your schedule later.
- Avoid constant interruptions. Turn it off. I mean it. Turn it off. In our world we are constantly bombarded with texts, calls, email, internet, TV (sorry, I mean Cable), various other means of communication that battle for our attention every minute of every day… if we let it. I am way more responsive to my family if I discard my cell phone and keep my computer OFF when I come home at night. If I turn it on, forget it. I become fragmented, inattentive, and distracted, and I miss the moments that make all the hard work worthwhile.
To be relational, it requires that we give our relationships time and attention. Tending to balance in our lives can give us the discipline to say not now, so we can make room for things that matter. Try saying “not now” and find time to turn all the distractions OFF, and watch your relationships grow