I will be one of the first to say that busyness isn’t what hurts us––it’s the stress! Dr. Archibald Hart describes stress this way: “The stress that does us in is the stress of challenge, high energy output and over commitment. If we do not build enough time into our lives to allow recovery of the system, we pay for it in stress disease.”
It used to be that just one member of the family was always working or overdoing. Of course, that had negative effects on the family, but I am not talking about that one person here. I used to be that one person. What I’m talking about is a new kind of busyness––the kind that doesn’t just affect one family member but includes everyone in the family.
As parents and leaders we get up and go to work. Our kids get up and go to school. Then our lives are filled with sports, practices, games, events, meetings, small-group activities, large-group get-togethers, this trip, that trip, homework, chores, and, oh, don’t forget sleep.
Doing the Math
After a back-to-school night for our kids, I did a little math. I added up how much time each teacher expected the students to spend on homework for each subject. Later we learned the amount of time required to participate in a sport. Much of that time included arriving prior to practice, staying after practice, selling things to raise money for the sport, attending outside events related to the sport, and helping to represent the team at other events at the school. And of course, how much time parents were required to volunteer to work the snack bar, take pictures, keep the score sheet, provide snacks––you get the idea.
(Disclaimer: I am not saying these things are wrong or bad or unhealthy. I am saying we simply can’t do it all.)
Back to the math…
After I added up what was expected of our kids, I figured that each of them had seven hours and thirty minutes of free time.
- School: 7:30 A.M.–3:00 P.M.
- Practice: 3:00 P.M.–6:00 P.M.
- Homework: 6:00 P.M.–12:00 A.M. (6 classes x 1 hour each class)
If you look closely, you will notice that I have not put in travel time, eating or sleeping. Sometimes I feel as if our family is stuck on the hamster wheel. Individual stress has turned into family stress. We spend so much time going in different directions that stress has become commonplace. And it all seems necessary.
If you want your child to go to college, if you want your child to get a scholarship, if you want your child to make the team, if you want your child to excel on the team, if you want your child to . . . you get the idea.
It never really ends, does it? Mary and I are no longer the workaholics in the family. Our kids are!
In the book Hectic to Healthy, I ask the question, “Can you say no to an opportunity for yourself that leads to a workaholic lifestyle?” I think there is another question that confronts us today:
Can you say no to an opportunity for your children?
When you say no to an opportunity for one of your kids, there will be consequences––not for you, but for him or for her.
Do you tell a teacher at school, “Thank you for all you do for my son. We really appreciate your enthusiasm. We did want to let you know, though, that our son will not be doing your assigned homework every evening; he will only do homework for a few minutes every other night. Thanks for understanding.”
Do you tell the coach, “Wow, we really appreciate your enthusiasm for creating a winning team. Love the energy! I did want to let you know, though, that we will be taking our daughter out of practice an hour early each day so our family can have some balance in life. Thanks!”
Here are 3 questions worth asking:
1. Are my kids doing to much?
2. If so, Why are my kids doing to much?
3. What can my kids stop doing to have a better family balance?
Photo Credit: shutterstock.com Image ID: 92229616 Copyright: Zurijeta