We're finishing up a great summer where we spent a lot of time learning about things like courage and how to control our words. We had a summer adventure where we spent one day a week learning about a person in history who showed great courage. We learned scripture that talked about courage. We practiced solving conflict and using our words to help, not to harm. Overall, my kids learned a bunch this summer.
I always end the summer feeling pretty good about having poured into my kids. I usually feel like I've given them extra attention, I've gotten some one on one time with each of them and I've taught them something.
Then the school year rolls around, and it seems like we're on a mad dash from August to May. This weekend alone, we have a hockey tournament, a soccer tournament, and a baptism to attend -- and my husband and I aren't even going to be in town. My parents are in charge of the girls this weekend.
I often get to the end of the school year, wondering where the time went and asking myself what I managed to teach my kids during the year. The stuff they learn in school is important, but the things they learn about life and their character are equally important. We have to set the priorities in our homes so that we make the time to pour into our kids -- even during the school year craziness.
I'm not suggesting that you throw all your kids' activities out the window. Being involved in sports and activities is important. It builds social skills, character and teaches our kids how to handle themselves without us. But letting our kids' activities take over every spare minute of our lives isn't healthy, and it isn't good for our families.
When we schedule every minute of our kids' lives, we remove the opportunity to spend time with them. We take away from family time. We lose sight of what's important. In some households, our kids sports and activities have moved to the top of the priority list -- and that's God's spot. Anything that takes His spot in the priority list has become an idol in our lives, and God is pretty specific about how He feels about that: "You shall have no other gods before me." (Exodus 20:3)
So, as you get ready for the school year, it's time to prioritize. Decide what's important to your family. Decide where you want to spend your time. Follow these three simple steps to create priorities for your family.
1. Make a list of the things that are important in your life. Put God at the top, then write down the most important things in your family's life this school year.
Our priority list at our house might look something like this:
Spending time together
Focus on character qualities
Your list doesn't have to be long or complicated. Simply list the top four or five priorities you have for the school year.
2. Sit down with your kids and ask them to prioritize their activities. You might find that they don't enjoy all of the things they are doing. If you have to make cuts in some areas, start with the things at the bottom of their lists. Make a list for yourself as well. Decide if there are things you and your spouse are doing that don't fit into the schedule.
3. After you've prioritized your current activities, match them up with your first list. Are there things on the list that don't fit with your priorities? It might be time to let them go. Are there things on the list that take away time from your priorities but don't add to accomplishing your family's goals? Consider dropping them.
Include your whole family in the discussion about priorities. You might be surprised at what your kids say their priorities are.
When we prioritize what's important in our lives, we can focus on just a few things instead of spreading ourselves thin trying to accomplish everything. Our families will be happier, and we just might find some time to spend teaching our kids -- even during the school year.