Too Busy? Take A Step Back
“We are so busy, and I am so exhausted.”
If I had a dime for every time I heard a parent say that--including parents in the Church--well, I wouldn’t be incredibly rich, but let’s just say I’d have a lot of dimes on my hands.
It is a common phenomenon--what I call the “suburban hustle.” You know the drill; it is the constant chauffeuring of kids to activity after activity: soccer practice, band, SAT prep. Dinner on the run. No time to breathe. Go go go.
This crowds out home discipleship, because both time and energy are scarce. Here’s the thing, though: it doesn’t have to be this way. Life gets busy, but it doesn’t have to be exhausting and all the activities don’t have to be the 800lb gorilla setting the agenda.
If the suburban hustle has you…hustling, consider the possibility that you or your kids need to do less. If you are frequently getting dinner on the run, for example, and you often don’t have time to sit down as a family and eat a meal, step back.
You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses. Don’t sign up for that second/third sport in the same season. Say no to the piano lessons.
Put boundaries on the activities you schedule and prioritize time to spend on home discipleship.
If you do put boundaries on your activities and still don’t have time, make time by looking at the rest of the day and redeeming the time you already have.
If you can’t sit down for dinner, maybe breakfast works better. Maybe getting up 10 or 15 minutes earlier is called for so you can get some family reading time in.
Figure out something and find a way, because you, the parent, not the youth pastor, is the primary educator and discipler of your kids. You must make it a priority, or it will get dropped.
Don’t outsource this, because the amount of time the world spends catechizing kids immersively, through the media, screens, and schools, dwarfs the amount of time the youth pastor can spend on teaching by orders of magnitude.
Even the playing field a bit and give your kids a fighting chance by prioritizing teaching in the home.
In order to teach your kids effectively, you must protect that time. If it happens “when we have time,” it won’t happen.
Two rules that have helped my family are:
1) Only one sport per season. Don’t overlap sports,
2) Keep dinner and Sunday church sacred.
We haven’t batted 1.000 on this and have had to work at it, but keeping these two in mind have helped, because dinner time is one of the consistent times we use to disciple and teach the kids.
For instance, last week caught us short, and the busyness got the best of us. We only had dinner one day that week and it felt like we were constantly coming and going, so my wife and I had to sit down and think through how to re-adjust our schedules.
After some schedule fenagaling and some creative thinking, we were able to set things to eat dinner as a family at least 4 days a week M-F, both weekend days, and still be able to get the kids to where they needed to go for practices and such.
The short story is that I have to be more disciplined in how I spend my work hours and need to be disciplined when it comes to coming home. I tend to stay longer to work more. The adjustment requires me to get to work earlier so I can get my work done earlier so I can be free to come home at a more reasonable time.
Also, less vegging at home, more engagement. It is tiring sometimes, but worth it.
Not every family can fit into that mold, but you can probably figure out something that works for your family if you think through it. The key is to be intentional and be willing to say no to some things.
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