We are well into January 2017 and I’m happy to say I’ve been creating a more balanced schedule for my little family. Not only do I verbalize that our priorities are God and family, we are walking in it day to day so far this year.
It tends to happen every fall that we become consumed with our outside activities as the girls prepare for The Nutcracker and Southern Region Oireachtas (a regional Irish Dance competition). One of the dance schools is an hour and a half commute so in addition to practice time, add three hours to every time we go, which had been 3-4 times per week, 15-20 hours per week including several Sundays. The time spent being an Irish dance mom is equivalent to a part time job! The fall spins and spins until we have 3 weekends in a row of big events in December: Oireachtas, then The Nutcracker and then a piano recital. Becoming concerned that by supporting their involvement in these activities I was warping their Christmas memories, I suggested to the girls that next year we not participate, instead just relax all of December and see if we like it. They rebounded with a unison, “No! These are part of our Christmas traditions!” The week of Christmas and New Year we do slow down to reflect on our Savior’s birth with other traditions and enjoy times with family. To be honest I can’t imagine going a year without The Nutcracker or hearing them prepare for the Christmas piano recital, and, my daughter has worked so hard over the years in Irish dance and is on the verge of making a goal that I can’t take it away from her now.
However, Christmas break and quality time at home helped me to recognize how far I had let us stray from keeping our family priorities. As I started making our January activity schedule, I focused with two things in mind – God and family.
I know there is more to being a Christian than attending church and I can understand missing occasionally, but missing was becoming the norm rather than the exception for us this past fall. We will not be missing church or relying on their online video service, when we only live 20 minutes away, to make sure a daughter can attend a required practice.
Having lost my father at an early age, I can’t purposely keep my girls from spending quality time with their dad as they grow. Research has shown benefits to eating nightly family dinners. While due to his work schedule we can’t do it every night, we will eat together more often than not. We will not be out at activities while my loving husband, their devoted father, is home alone eating dinner.
Will this negatively impact their achievement level in activities? I don’t know. Time will tell. (There are benefits and life lessons to be gained their chosen arts, but that’s a topic for another time.) I do know that years from now if I have a Sugar Plum Fairy or a Championship dancer, it means nothing if they have not grown closer to God or if they have missed out on sharing their daily lives and routines with their Dad.
Please wish me well as the year continues. I know next fall will come and I may have to say no to extra team activities due to scheduling concerns. I know there will be times I’ll need to be a little more flexible, but overall, I’ll need to keep the big picture in mind and stay balanced.