Back in the fall, we signed up to be part of a Roots and Shoots group. Its group’s focus is on community service, usually in the form of environmental cleanup or nonprofit fundraising and collections. They also provide a lot of opportunities to get close to rehabilitated animals and do other outdoor activities.
Sounds great, right?
And it was for a little while. We helped at a forest preserve to pull weeds that were overtaking a prairie. We were signed up for bike rides along a canal and to see a hawk presentation. I was happy were part of the group because, although we love being out in nature, we don’t do any formal nature studies or participate in a lot of structured volunteer activities.
I thought by joining this group it would be a good opportunity for us to do those things we don’t naturally gravitate towards but are good things to learn and do.
But it quickly became something we had to do instead of something we wanted to do. We found ourselves frustrated because after two days of swimming and gymnastics (two activities the kids really enjoy), we didn’t seem to have any days where we could just stay home and work on our own projects for the entire day.
Then there was our Monday homeschool co-op group that meets for 3 hours. I found it energizing to talk with the other moms, and the kids seemed to like going in the beginning. But then it turned into something that stopped us from whatever game, project or activity we had started in the morning. (The group meets from 11-2 which could have something to do with it).
Jared started getting upset when it was time to go, and it was becoming a point of tension instead of something fun. I was anxious, too, because it seemed like our schedule was filling up too quickly. Suddenly, we didn’t have time for the things that brought us true joy: exploring new places, local travel, digging deep into topics of interests by spending long days reading, playing games, doing experiments, watching movies and talking.
It was time for a change.
I took a careful look at our weekly schedule and asked myself a few questions.
1. Are we participating in the activity because we (ok, this usually means I!) think we should do it or because we really want to do it and it fits in with our goals?
I’ve always had a problem quitting things. It makes me feel like I’m giving up…like I can’t be counted on. For some reason, being known as a reliable, responsible person has always been important to me, even when I was little.
That’s not to say that I haven’t quit things before. I’ve quit lots of things before when I was only accountable to myself. For some reason, that hasn’t bothered me too much until lately. I guess that’s the reason why I haven’t seriously pursued some big dreams (although that could become an entire post in and of itself!)
But I have a hard time telling others no or that I quit, even when it’s bringing me unnecessary stress or keeping me from goals and dreams that mean so much more.
While I think it’s important to follow through on commitments, if those commitments are no longer bringing you closer to important goals or dreams, it’s time to let them go. Give others plenty of warning and time to replace you if necessary, but I’ve learned that
Even good things can get in the way of greatness.
2. Do I want to eliminate something from our schedule or just redirect our priorities?
I faced this question when I considered our commitment to going to our Monday co-op meeting.
We’ve made many friends there, and we do like participating in many of the activities, especially the park days in the summer.
So instead of saying we would stop going, we’ve decided to go twice a month instead of every week. This way we can still hang out with the group and have more time for local travel and trips.
What are the two to three top priorities in your life…..those things that you need each day to make you feel alive? What are the two to three things for each of your kids?
This isn’t to say that you won’t do more than those 2 or 3 things. But if you keep a firm commitment to doing always doing something each day to get closer to achieving two or three big goals, you’ll get closer to reaching those goals and dream much faster.
It may be hard to focus when you have lots of things that are interesting to you. That’s been my problem for awhile. But I’ve learned that when I jump around from thing to thing, nothing ever gets finished. So I have some things that I prioritize every day…things that I do no matter how tired I feel or whether or not I’m in the mood to do them. Then I fill in the rest of the day with others things I need to or like to get done.
I share these details of our schedule to encourage you that you don’t need to stick with things that are bringing tension or stress to your family….even if they were once things that brought you joy.
It’s never too late to change how you structure your weeks. The beginning of the year is a great time to evaluate what’s working for you and what’s not, but never let the time of year stop you from changing when things aren’t working.
Photo Credit: Neil T
How is your weekly schedule? Are you committed to things that are not bringing your closer to your dreams and goals? What about your children’s goals and commitments?Share on Facebook