It's not hard to be busy, is it?
I always find I go through seasons... Sometimes I look around and and we don't have much on our figurative family plate. Then, it seems that the next time I look around, we are slammed and editing is needed. If everything else in life seems to ebb and flow, it only makes sense that schedules do as well.
And I tend to be pretty protective of our schedule; this season more than ever. With Jerr in grad school full time on top of working all day, Roman in preschool, church groups, friend time, choir, and me teaching private music lessons, finding something to do isn't hard. Finding a free day to spend together is. Finding a free day to spend with friends is, too. Balance is necessary.
A good friend of mine in Cali used to compare maintaining your personal schedule to eating at a buffet. The buffet is full of good food but you only have one plate; only so much room to fill. I'm sure you have no problem understanding the analogy but I'm going to keep walking it out because I think there are good nuggets. To continue: if the mashed potatoes fill the entire dish, you don't have room for anything else. So sometimes you need to take only small servings of the good things- harder yet, sometimes you need to choose NOT to put some good stuff on your plate at all. Because you prioritize and try to find a meal of healthy food to nourish your body.
For me, that means regularly keeping a finger on the pulse of our family and knowing what to let in, and what to keep out. There are many invites we have to turn away, in the name of protecting our family and making sure we get family time. Sundays, for example, are labeled "family day;" we don't make plans with anyone else, except for special situations, and Jerry has all his homework done so we can all spend the day doing something fun together. That helps us breathe. That also means no phone calls at certain times- meals, kid-time, or couple-time.
You know, one of the things I find most challenging is to balance friendships. My entire life, teachers called me a "social butterfly." That's just a nice way of saying, "Lauren never shuts up." I'm not offended- it's really true! Ha! I'm still the one causing a ruckus in the back row during a meeting. Or baby shower. Or choir rehearsal. ;) But my love for enjoying relationships with people means that I have had the opportunity to know some pretty incredible ones. We are spread all over the US, with different job descriptions requiring our time at different parts of the day. And I had the hardest time keeping in touch with every person I have ever loved throughout my life. I don't have unrealistic expectations at all, do I?
The down side is that, in addition to feeling like I never had enough time in my day, I also found myself dropping the ball on a lot of friendships; missing important moments and hurting hearts when I missed a phone call or didn't help to carry the load in challenging moments of life. And my heart started to become heavy with regret that I wasn't being the friend I want to be.
So I was inspired when reading Real Marriage, by Mark Driscoll, to sit down and literally write out the short list, we're talking 2-3 here, of people that were allowed almost-unlimited access to my time and energy. These were the ones I make sure get cards during hard days, regular weekly contact in some form, who I will rearrange my schedule for, to whom I will commit my time/energy/emotions. I then wrote out a second list, another 6-7 friends, who I wanted to be specific about checking in occasionally, so that I could continue to know how they were doing and maintain some sort of friendship. I recognize that could sound prideful, but it doesn't look like that in my heart. It had to happen because I was becoming stressed when I didn't know how to be what my family needed me to be, NOR what my friends needed me to be. That condition required me to become specific about where my time goes. It's being selfish with my time so I can be unselfish with my time, if that makes sense.
Do you find yourself doing the same things? Are you protective with your time? Have you found a good balance?
I'm trying... I'm learning that being successful at anything in life means being purposeful about that success. Sometimes that's a friendship, sometimes a marriage, sometimes motherhood and sometimes a chocolate connoisseur. Because let's face it, that requires some serious bonding time, too!