Setting the Schedule

My calendar looks like someone threw up a rainbow of dry erase markers on it. We switched the month from July to August and all of a sudden the squares on my calendar aren't big enough to hold all the events of the day.

Schedules during the school year can be tricky. We have some days where getting everyone where they need to be requires a degree in traffic management. Just figuring out the carpool this year with two kids at different schools is proving to be more difficult than I thought.

Yet, managing the schedule can be easier. If we've prioritized our activities, then we should be able to make our calendars fit our priorities instead of letting our calendars dictate our priorities.

So, it's time to take that priority list and match it up against your current calendar. Look at what dominates your calendar and decide if those things match up with your priorities. If not, then it's time to rearrange the schedule -- not your priorities.

For example, this school year, I've decided I want to work with each of my girls on a different issue. My older daughter and I are going to be attending a Bible study on modesty and purity once a month called Becoming. It's a great opportunity for some mom/daughter time, and it hits on an area that I think is really important right now. You can find out more about Becoming Ministry here.

My younger daughter and I are also going to spend some time together this fall talking about the qualities of a good leader. We're going to take advantage of some of the time my older daughter spends at soccer practice to study what God has to say about leadership.

These two things are at the top of my priority list, so they are making their way onto my calendar first. We'll work them around practice schedules when we need to, but these are items that I don't want to skip each month.

For some of us, our calendars are simply too full. If that's the case, it's time to take a few steps to lighten the load. God doesn't intend for us to run from the minute we get up until the minute we go to bed. He expects us to rest. We need it, and our kids need it. God chose to rest: "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work" (Genesis 2:2). If it's important enough for God to do it, then it should be important enough to us to make time for it. If your schedule never allows for any downtime for you or your kids, then it's time to reevaluate.

If you need to clear some things off your schedule, try these steps:

1. Learn to say no. No is not a four letter word. It's in our vocabulary for a reason. As much as we would like to, we can't say yes to everything. Just because something is a worthy idea doesn't mean we have to take it on. Just because someone asks you to do something doesn't mean you have to say yes. Pray about each activity that goes on your calendar. If God says no, then it's time to be done with that activity. Don't make the assumption that no one else will do it. If God is telling you no, then He'll find someone to fill that slot.

2. Set limits. Your kids can't do everything nor should they even try. Set up limits on how much stuff your kids can cram onto the calendar. In our house, we have a one sport at a time rule. This means that the girls can each choose one sport per season. We allow a little overlapping, but in general, we're only dealing with one sport's practices at a time. You may need to set limits on activities or sleepovers or even study time in order to ensure your kids get the rest and downtime they need.

3. Make family time a priority. Schedule family nights on the calendar just like you would any other activity. Choose something to do each month -- movie night, family read-aloud, game night. Put it on the calendar and make sure everyone knows it's just as important as a game or other activity.

4. Be flexible. Flexibility is key to making a busy family's schedule work. It may mean that dinner is at a different time every night or that your family meal is breakfast. It may mean that devotional time is done in the car because that's when you're all together. It may mean that every week looks different as you work to make the schedule meet your priorities. Being flexible makes days when things don't come together right much easier to deal with.

As you figure out your schedule for the school year, don't let your calendar become a mish-mash of unplanned activities. Learn to say no, set limits, make family time a priority and be flexible, and you'll be on your way to the best school year ever.

Linking up today with Denise in Bloom.