What’s Your Number? How to Stop Being Stretched Too Thin

photo by leo reynolds

With the new school year upon us, life inevitably starts to pick up. Sports, civic groups, music lessons, church activities — everyone distributes their fall schedules and before you know it, the day-to-day is officially busy again.

(We hardly knew ye, summer! See ya again in nine months!)

This is your chance — right now — before everything is completely up and running, to have a conversation that will decrease your stress and increase your happiness this fall. Don’t miss this opportunity! Here’s what you need to do…

Call a household meeting (even if you’re the only one in your household.) Have everyone bring their calendars and schedules for the next few months.

Once all parties have gathered, ask everyone the magic question: “What’s your number?”

Meaning, in a perfect world, how many weeknights would you like to be at home and not out doing something (even if that “something” is fun)?

This answer will vary based on the personality type of each person. Naturally, the extroverts may want more time in organized activities, while your introverts may crave more downtime at home.

The goal here is to proactively avoid over-scheduling.

The tricky part is in the evaluation of each person’s number. If Brother convincingly declares he only needs one night home, but other family members recall him being stressed last year with a similar schedule, then it’s the responsibility of everyone else to call a “Blatancy Alert.” Do not let others convince themselves that they can balance more than they truly can. You HAVE to look out for one another.

Dad may need 3 nights home, which means he has to choose between helping coach the soccer team and being a part of the networking group. Big Sis may need only 2 nights home, which means track and the part-time job can be balanced — with a re-evaluation at the end of the semester.

Even if your 6-year-old cannot completely grasp the concept, you can ask her to tell you what types of things she looks forward to. This will give you an idea of where you should set limits on her out-of-the-home activities.

Everything fighting for space in your schedule looks good on paper — all of the extracurriculars that will help you all be well-rounded, active, and involved in the community. Yet, these conversations about limits and the reality of how everything falls in the week are the secret to making it all work in the end.

This simple question and the conversation that follows WILL PREVENT ADULTITIS in your household.

Once everyone’s “number” has been established, the fun begins: looking at calendars, discussing scheduling, and realistic solutions to make sure everyone has what they need to be able to function in a healthy and happy manner. Oh yeah (stating the obvious here), try to make sure you are not all home on a different night of the week. Schedule in those family dinners and weekly Sabbaths (two things that will change your life — GUARANTEED!)
(link to posts on both concepts)

So, if you find yourself being stretched too thin or feeling like a chicken with your head cut off, just remember it’s never too late to call a household meeting to ask the magic question.

If YOU don’t, who will?

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Comments

  1. Kevin M says:

    Did you just see the Berenstain Bears episode about this exact topic? They are all over-scheduled and feel like they can’t cut anything and end up rushing around to all their different appointments. A pretty good lesson for a kids cartoon, in my opinion.

  2. Great timing, I have been toiling with this for a few months now. I like your idea, its simple and practical. Interestingly, I would have emphasized “proactively” than “over-scheduling” in your phrase ‘proactively avoid over-scheduling’ – IMHO we all know we are over committed, we are not proactively avoiding it.

    Since I was struggling with it anyway, I got inspired to write a post and reference yours.

    Keep them coming.

  3. Great timing, I have been toiling with this for a few months now. I like your idea, its simple and practical. Interestingly, I would have emphasized “proactively” than “over-scheduling” in your phrase ‘proactively avoid over-scheduling’ – IMHO we all know we are over committed, we are not proactively avoiding it.

    Since I was struggling with it anyway, I got inspired to write a post and referenced yours.

    Keep them coming.

  4. I’ve been there, the school year starts and all of a sudden the kids have way too many activities going on.

    My biggest problem is mostly with the unscheduled activities. These last minute events that pop out of the blue without any warning and that totally create a mess out of the beautifully planned schedule of activities. Things like “there is an award ceremony tonight” or “I have a meeting after school so pick me up an hour later”, which then is inevitably conflicting with someone’s soccer practice.

    With patience and sense of humor, somehow it always turns out ok in the end. Loving blessings!

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