5 Ways to Protect Your Family Calendar

Amanda Idleman

Contributing Writer
Published: Sep 01, 2023
5 Ways to Protect Your Family Calendar

Respecting our limitations is an important part of what it is to be a loving family. Here are some ways that we can help protect the family calendar.

Somehow, we have hit the parenting phase where managing everyone's school, sports, interests, activities, and friends feels like navigating a labyrinth! Our family calendar is a crazy matrix that I am still trying to work out before all the things start back again. My husband and I are by nature extroverted and enjoy trying new things! This means we find ourselves adding on too many volunteer roles, Bible studies, work commitments, and more. 

We are chronic doers, and while there is merit to being involved, there is a real danger that being busy will steal chances for rest and connection. If we fill up our calendars to the point that there is no margin, we often find ourselves struggling under the weight of burnout and loneliness. I know I’ve been there many times. Boundaries for what we say yes to as a family are necessary. 

Repeat this after me: Just because it’s a good thing to do does not mean it’s the right thing for you to be doing. I think this truth trips many of us enthusiastic extroverts up! Good things are our jam. If there is a sport to excel in, a club to join, a committee to be a part of, or a ministry to start, we are ready to jump right in. Especially when we have kids to care for, more discernment is needed in order to weed out the good things from the right things for our family. This can be painful, especially because, as parents, we hate saying no to our kids! But wisdom says there are real limits on what we all can accomplish as a family in any given season. Respecting our limitations is an important part of what it is to be a loving family. 

Here are some ways that we can help protect the family calendar: 

1. Talk Over Your Schedule as a Family

This may seem obvious, but we are prone to sign up for things without really taking the time to discuss how a particular commitment will affect everyone in our home. We had planned to sign both our boys up for soccer this Fall, thinking it would be easier for them to do the same sport. After I paid the fees, my younger son expressed that soccer just wasn't something he felt passionate about. His being on a team only would have added business to his life, not joy. I had to go back and withdraw him from the team because I had not fully discussed with him how he felt about doing the same sport as his older brother. More is not always more for our kids. 

The same is true for the goals and commitments that you and your spouse make. Your decision to join a small group or Bible study impacts your spouse. You need to make sure you both understand how your decision to pursue certain goals affects the whole family and, most especially, your marriage. Sometimes, what we need is not one more night out at church but instead a night home, together taking time to connect. 

2. Prioritize Your Commitments 

When it comes to making tough decisions about what to sign up for and what to pass on, a helpful tool could be ranking the things on the list from most important to least important. This can assist you in determining which things could be taken off the calendar or possibly could wait for a less hectic life season. 

This Fall, my husband wanted to lead a church group and coach my son’s soccer team. We had to determine which activity was most life-giving to my husband and our family for this season. We determined that he could hold off on learning the church group and invest in some more one-on-one time with our oldest as they bond over a sport that they both love. Determining which things matter most for this season of life is helpful in gaining a better big-picture view of your family goals. 

3. Write Out Your Weekly Rhythm 

Having a visual that shows what to expect as your new school year begins is helpful to be able to fully wrap your head around what the rhythm of your days will be. Before we start our Fall routine, I write out on a spreadsheet what our days will look like, starting with breakfast and ending with evening activities. I try to include things like family dinner nights, morning playtime, or bedtime read-alouds. If we don’t add in the things we aspire to do, such as connect as a family at the dinner table at least once a week, then it just won’t happen. Intentionality is the key when striving to protect your routine from too much hustle and bustle. Once you write out the things you plan to do in a week, go back and remove anything that seems like it’s just one activity too many from your plan. 

4. Focus On Your People

When we are invested everywhere, what happens is, in the end, we aren't truly committed anywhere. There are only a handful of relationships you can maintain well all at once. Recently, I joked that I don’t want any more friends because I am tapped out. While I am not going to close my heart to new people, I do realize that I have a village, and they require a certain level of commitment in order for us to remain vitally active in each other's lives. I have to make and protect the space given to them. 

I think this is why many of us struggle to find community; we lack the focus it requires to really lean into a few key relationships. Recently, a new family joined our small group, and her comment is that I’ve never met a group of people so interested in being together. There is no twice monthly surface level meet-up in our village. We are in constant communication, sharing needs and children, and while we have hearts for the whole community around us, we are committed to being invested in each other. This is also true for our immediate families. They deserve our focus and time. Our kids cannot feel seen, known, and loved by distracted parents. We have to be present in our homes for our children and spouses to feel loved by us. 

5. Ask This: Does it give glory to God?

My close friend said she was praying over all the school work she wanted to do with her four-year-old son this year when God stopped her mid-prayer to correct her. He said you aren’t going to worry about making him perform; you are going to allow him to play. He laid it on her heart that each day was about giving God glory and not checking off a performance list! 

Gosh, it’s so much easier to check off things on our list than it is to determine if our actions are giving God glory! This doesn’t mean that all we do is Bible study all day, every day it just means that we need to view our actions through the lens of faith. When I feed my children, am I nourishing the temple they have been given, or am I just carelessly stuffing their bodies? Is this sport growing my child’s witness? Life skills? Or is it just a place for the family to gain glory for their skills? Is my child’s education focused on performance or showing them who God is through the study of our world? These are the sorts of questions that can help us make sure our lives are aligned with God’s plan and purpose for us. 

We are called to do everything as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23). It’s pretty hard to accomplish this goal without praying over and choosing intentionality when it comes to our time. We have to ask God how he wants to shape our days and make sure that how we use our time honors Him!

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/ChainarongPrasertthai

Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God's Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.

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