a "been-there" mom of six offers encouragement
to wives, young mothers, and those not so young,
and simple common-sense approaches to
the "ings" of life:
child-rearing (hints and helps), homemaking (all areas),
cooking (simple, cheap, and do-it-yourself)
making (toys and gifts), preparing (for the unexpected),
maintaining (sanity and peace in this increasingly crazy world) and more---
all aspects of making the most of making do on little---
and having fun in the process.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Schedules: When Good Competes with Good

Are we too busy?
Should we slow down?
What can we do?
How can we do it?

Let's talk priorities. . .again

Somehow, as modern advancements have made our life physically easier and less time-consuming, we have over-booked our new-found freedom.
Rare are times for swinging, or laying on the grass watching the
clouds float by (and discovering objects in them), or just day-dreaming.
When was the last time you took time to do nothing? Do you miss it? 

Frazzled parents hustle frazzled children between back-to-back activities— too often organized activities with rigid requirements, expenses and expectations---Activities that are no longer leisure fun but stressful commitments.

Rare are the neighborhood block and backyard games; the pick-up games in the middle of a street; exhilarating and unstructured recreation for the simple fun of it.        

Way back in the "good old days" children were automatically a part of the family work force. There were cows to milk, pigs to slop, gardens to tend, and multiple other tasks and responsibilities, many needing to be accomplished before the “five mile walk to school in knee-deep snow.” The need for heavy physical labor left little room or time for anxiety and stress. They still found time for simple fun.

Unfortunately, in too many ways, we have come a long way. Our myriad responsibilities rarely include providing the actual necessities to sustain life. Automation and modernization has given us lots of free time. The remaining necessary chores require little of us physically. Our brains are now taxed much more than our bodies. Not a healthy balance.

Our amusement and entertainment needs are becoming more and more extravagant.

Activities, events, and things that were previously luxuries or reserved for special occasions are now considered entitlements. Preschoolers in caps and gowns may be cute, but when special occasions are made special too soon, what is left for the traditional mileposts of life?

Our married children are very active in church and in their community. They read their Scriptures and have daily prayer. They set aside one evening each week just for the family, and their children are involved in extra church activities according to their ages. The boys are active in scouting.

They also take music lessons, play recreational sports and are involved in their school activities. They have maximum homework and minimal chores. Everything they are doing is good. Most things are even very, very good. They are productive.

But, their chores, their homework, their commitments are not just tightly scheduled but actually booked solid with very few unaccounted for minutes.

What happened to time for day dreaming? Cloud watching? Spontaneous fun? Leisurely meals together?  A real meal together at all?

There are no one-size-fits-all answers to simplifying family time. Tomorrow I'll give you a few possibilities to try on for your size or that of your family's.

Until then, here is some food for thought.

Choosing good versus evil is obvious. Choosing good versus good is not.
Can too much of a good thing become bad?
Have we become caught in a thick web of thin things?
Can we slow down before we stretch ourselves to the breaking point?
Are our priorities in order?

While the answers are apparent and elementary, the slowing down may seem impossible.

In spite of what we know of the unimaginable hardships of those of previous generations, it has been said that we, in our time, are facing much greater challenges. Our battles are not of enduring physical labors and trials. Our battles are much more insidious, much more horrendous. Battles for our families. Battles for our very souls.

I wish I had exact and automatically successful how-to’s for you but I don’t. There are no one-size-fits-all answers. I do know where to search however, and so do you. Remember, with God, nothing is impossible.

Excerpted from a Simply Gail column in DSM.

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