When my first daughter was born, I was so excited to get her involved with activities! As soon as she could sit up on her own, we started attending library story time on a weekly basis. When she turned one, we enrolled her in a toddler music class. From there we went on to try out a gymnastics class, swim lessons, and several different play groups. We had a zoo pass, a museum membership, and attended two different Bible Studies every week. Then my second daughter was born and we enrolled her in several of these activities as well. By the time I got pregnant with my third child, it seemed we had a different activity on our schedule every day of the week. Mondays we did swim lessons. Tuesdays my husband hung out with friends. Wednesdays was library story time and I went to an evening Bible study. Thursdays I attended a maternity aerobics class. Fridays I took the kids to Bible study/play group. Saturdays we took the kids to music class. In addition to our already full schedule, my husband worked full time, I worked part time, my daughter took violin lessons from her grandmother, and we attempted to start a preschool curriculum with her at home.
Despite how overwhelming this all sounds when written down, we didn’t consider our lives particularly busy. It seemed other families we knew were far busier! We felt pretty average, like we could stand to handle a few more activities. In fact, as I neared the birth of our third child last fall, I thumbed excitedly through the park district’s Autumn brochure and mentally selected the activities we would try next. My oldest daughter would be turning three soon, which meant many more classes would become available to her. We could sign her up for ballet! Or maybe soccer! She could start attending some summer day camps! Maybe preschool once or twice a week? This was going to be too much fun!
A month before my third child was born, we had to unexpectedly sell one of our vehicles. The car was due for an emissions test it wouldn’t pass and would cost far more than its worth to fix. So we opted instead to sell the car, use the money to pay down some debts, and to operate as a one car family “just for a little while.” With two toddlers and a brand new baby on the way, I had already quit my part time job. Since my husband needed the car for work every day, however, I also had to quit something else. Activities. With just one car, it was no longer logistically possible to partake in so many of them.
We dropped the music classes, swim lessons, and athletic activities. We replaced library story time with a few more reading sessions at home. We kept our zoo pass, but used it far less often. After my son was born, we dropped other things too. Instead of attempting to keep up with a homeschool curriculum, I let my children learn through free play and occasional impromptu activities every day. With the exception of Bible study one morning a week, my children and I kept it simple. We walked to nearby parks, read books, baked cookies, and played with toys at home.
This was all supposed to be temporary. I was expecting to take a semester “off” in order to adjust to life with three children.
Instead, I think I accidentally created a new lifestyle for my family. My youngest is now eight months old and I still have no desire to go back to so many scheduled activities. Good things happened when I cut back on them. Quitting my part time job enabled me to be physically present for dinner with my family every single day of the week. I started to cook real food, as opposed to the perpetual Mac n‘ Cheese and pizza we used to survive on when it was my turn to prepare dinner. When we cut back on evening activities, our evenings grew more peaceful. We no longer snarf down our dinner in order to rush to swim class on time. Instead, we eat leisurely while discussing our day and then enjoy time outside with our kids or a movie and a book before tucking our kids into bed. These days most of our mornings are filled with a big breakfast followed by sidewalk chalk, imaginitive play, coffee, and the hum of the dish washer and the clothes dryer instead of frantic preparation for the day’s activities.
When we eliminated several activities from our family‘s schedule, we created room. It has been such a blessing to fill this room with the things in life that truly matter: quality time with friends and family and, of course, quality time with my Savior. I’ve been able to attend an extra Bible study several times this year and to contribute to this blog on a weekly basis. My daughter started attending sunday school this winter and my Bible has seen a bit more personal devotion action lately. I’m not sure I would be able to enjoy these things as thoroughly if at all if I hadn’t made room in which to do so.
It’s not a bad thing to participate in activities we enjoy
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1 Corinthians 10:31)
But we need to make sure we have our priorities straight.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
We should not be filling our schedules so full that there is no room left for Jesus.
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. (Haggai 1:7-9)
It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in our busy lives and all of our many responsibilities and obligations.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-11:4)
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
Do you have plenty of room for Jesus in your life right now, or do your many activities and responsibilities eat up all of your time?
This week’s challenge: take an honest look at your schedule. If you find time for Jesus is lacking, eliminate one worldly activity or obligation and replace it with time for prayer, a personal devotion, a Bible study with friends, or serving others in Christian love.