The truth is, there are a lot of things that throw our family “off balance.” Yet, isn’t it ironic that the busiest time of year also happens to be our favorite? The kids are back in school, which means school functions and extracurricular activities get added to the schedule, along with church activities. It’s also conference season, which means travel and speaking pick up.
Josh and I had this conversation just the other day about our family “balance” when he signed our son up for fall t-ball. Yet, inside my head, I was screaming “NO!”
I’m learning that my instinctive “no” is about protecting our family. When I feel like others are controlling our family life, I get defensive. Sometimes, I get angry.
But I realized I haven’t been voicing my “no,” even to Josh. I question myself too much. “Maybe I’m being too protective?” “Maybe this is important?” “Maybe I should take on more?” So I give in and say yes, never voicing the apprehension lingering in the back of my mind.
It all came to a head recently. I was angry, feeling like life had gotten out of control, and I blamed the guy who allowed it to happen—my husband. In truth, it was equally my fault, and after a very honest conversation, we both began to see the facts: he tends to say yes, and I tend to say no. But now we’re aware of it. Now we talk about it. And as a result, we’re moving in the right direction—as a team.
I think it’s important to clarify this was not done “Cleaver family style”—our “conversation” was the result of many, many misunderstandings, disagreements, and sometimes not-so-respectful discussions. Agreeing on the same game plan often comes after we find ourselves in two different locker rooms.
So, we made an intentional decision this fall to scale back and say no to more. I hope some of the insights we use to find sanity in the fall help you to enjoy yours.
- Find rhythm, not balance.
We recently interviewed Matt and Lauren Chandler on our podcast. Going behind the scenes of their home, this was an insight that helps drive the Chandler family. We have since embraced it in our home.
Think about it. Try to define balance. What does it mean? Will you know when you found it? Balance is unattainable because just when you think you’ve found it, someone moves. And, as Matt Chandler described it, “Balance requires everyone else to stay still.” Life just doesn’t work like that. And goodness knows no one in this house will stay still.
Instead, find rhythm.
As wives, I think we know when we begin to feel disconnected from our husband. We also know deep down when we’re not spending enough quality time with our kids. If we don’t recognize it, our kids will let us know soon enough. Tantrums. Whininess. Trouble going to bed. Let’s be honest; our husbands will probably let us know too. 🙂
But pay attention to when you feel disconnected with those you love the most. If you feel disconnected and your schedule is not letting up, confidently say no to a few things to say yes to your family.
- The only person looking out for your family is you.
Turn off push notifications on your phone. They don’t care about our relationships with our kids or our husbands. They just care that we tend to them right now. And when we say yes to one thing, we say no to something else.
Also, people have agendas. I’m not talking about a sly way to manipulate us, but people have sincere agendas of worthy activities and causes for us to be involved in. Serve at church. Be this week’s dugout mom. Attend this Bible study. You get it. Sincere people with sincere motives just like you and me.
But it’s important to recognize their heart is focused on their sincere cause, not necessarily your family. The only person looking out for your family is you. So feel the freedom to be just as sincerely committed as they are to your own cause—your family’s physical, relational, spiritual and emotional health.
We have had to do that this fall. There are so many good things. But the greatest one is our family. And at the expense of looking good to everyone else, I’d rather look good to my husband and kids. Sometimes it means we have to miss an activity because we are “out of rhythm”. And delightfully, the rest of the world keeps turning.
- You choose
We intentionally prioritized every fall activity we wanted to do as a family. Everything else gets worked in around them. Yes, there are some things that must take precedent. There will be seasons, even in the fall, where we have to be a little out of rhythm because of ministry or work. It could be a project or an out-of-town speaking engagement. However, when we’re done, we put a plan in place to get back in rhythm.
So this fall choose what you love. The Saturday morning pumpkin spice latte. Fall colors. Sweet apple pie. Your husband’s hand holding yours. Your kids giggling through a corn maze.
Take permission to fight for your cause: your family rhythm.
Christi Straub, M.A., M.B.A. is a native Canadian, wife to an American, and momma to two feisty preschoolers. She and her husband Josh are the cofounders of The Connextion Group, a company designed to empower marriages and families. Passionate about families in her generation, Christi writes and speaks on helping moms discover their identity and have marriages they’d wish on their children. Her honesty, wittiness, and transparency are contagious which you can experience by listening to The Dr. Josh + Christi Podcast. When she and Josh aren’t working together, they’re playing trains or having tea parties. (And trying really hard to put the phones away.)