Sunday's reading (Luke 14:25-33) and our priest's (Fr. Michael) homily was such an answer to my prayers! It's amazing how God works through others to let us know that He is listening and that He cares.
Recently, I've been pondering and praying over extra-curricular activities for the kids. With 5 kids to tow around, it's not as easy for me as I would like it to be. Should all the kids be enrolled in an activity? How do I handle different times for different kids? Is keeping the kids from participating hindering them in any way? Should I aim to keep the kids together? These are the main questions I've been asking for the past month.
If you've been following along, you'll know that last year was SUPER busy. Dance classes (2 separate ones), swimming, piano, and a quick stint with soccer was keeping me busy. That was on top of school lessons, co-op, and faith formation. Add all that to having a newborn, hospital visits/stays, and moving....you see where I'm going with this. I was drowning.
It was too much and I was stretched out so thin, that it affected my life in many ways. I was constantly cranky, my house was a mess, I started being late for important functions, my drive for many things was gone, and the worst thing of all is that I feel I failed the kids in their education. So soon after we decided to put our house up for sale and move, I gave up. I took the kids out of swimming and dance. No more team sports and no more unnecessary activities.
And just like that...a GIANT weight was lifted off my shoulders. We could finally enjoy a family dinner again, not just 2 nights out of the week...but every night! No more rushing, no more juggling schedules. It was great! And it's been great since I kept this simple way of life all through summer.
But now, fall is knocking at our door. The kids are asking about swimming and dancing and karate and everything else. What do I do? Do I try it out again? Well this is what I did. I prayed. For wisdom to make the right decisions for my kids and for our family. But I was stuck without an answer. Until now.
Our time is like GOLD. Actually, it's more valuable than gold. How to spend it? We know that our main goal as parents is to educate our children. So at least we know that most of our time will go to that. But what about all the leftover time? That was my dilemma, and thank you Father Michael for making it click for me!!!
In everything we do, God has to be our center. For school, work, and play. He has to come before anything else. As educators of our children, we know that our school days are centered around Our Lord. That is our goal. Having a family that is centered around Christ is also our goal. Growing together, learning from each other, creating bonds, and loving our family are also all goals that are Christ-centered. But that doesn't mean that we can't take the kids to swimming class or to dance class. What it means is that when those extra-curricular activities begin hindering, clouding, or getting in the way of achieving those most important goals...then they should be taken away.
So here is my answer. My time is precious. My family life is precious. I am going to treat every minute with my children and family like a God-given gift (which it is). I know what an overworked schedule looks and feels like. I'm not going back to that. I'm going to enjoy my children and have fun with them. For now, maybe enjoying them and having fun will include swimming or some other sport. Maybe it'll be a year full of fun field trips instead. I haven't made up my mind yet. But I'll never lose focus of my goals again.
And even if the answer is plain at daylight, things were never as clear as they are now. There were countless thoughts and doubts in my mind that were miraculously answered this Sunday. All of which I can't go into; but this one being the main one.
I'd love to know how you other moms and dads out there handle extra-curricular activities with your children. How you make time, how you keep sane!!