When I ask sports parents what their biggest challenges are, I hear often that many struggle to maintain balance in their busy lives. Taking kids to practices and games, volunteering, working, schoolwork, and just general parenting challenges fill up 24 hours pretty quickly.
If you are looking at your busy calendar and wondering, how can I get some balance in this craziness and where do I even begin? I have 3 steps that will get you going in the direction of living a more balanced life. And remember that “balancing” does not necessarily mean that you will have time to do everything you want now. Some seasons will be filled with lots of youth sports, and some won’t.
First: Establish Core Values as a Family.
Core values will guide your family’s decisions, priorities, and they will be the voice in your children’s heads as they grow up and start making decisions and choices on their own.
Every family needs to establish core values and here’s how to begin if you do not already have them: call a family meeting and discuss the top 5 things that are most important to you as a family and then expound on them to write out your core values.
For instance, maybe one of your family’s core values is “Respecting One Another.” You could expound on that a bit to say, “We will respect others even if we disagree with them and we will treat them with dignity.”
Maybe another core value is “Family.” You could expound on that with, “We will strive to always put the needs of our family ahead of the needs of outsiders.”
Whatever your core values are, talk about them as a family, post them in a prominent place and refer to them often as you parent.
Second: Prioritize According to Those Core Values
As you look at your calendars, make a list of every activity, such as: work, practices, games, family time, etc. Then prioritize them in the order that says, “if there is a conflict, this activity wins out.”
This is where your core values come in to help you prioritize. If one of your core values is “family,” or “we will strive to always put the needs of our family ahead of the needs of others,” then do your priorities reflect the value you place on family?
Anything that you put on your calendar can be run through the filter of your core values. If it does not connect with any of your core values, then maybe it’s something that is not important enough to be taking your time.
Third: Prioritize Activities That Will Allow for Balance.
If you really want more balance in your lives, you must start giving priority to activities that will support that balance. Do you need more time together as a family? Then make it a priority in your scheduling.
What are the other areas that you are neglecting that will help you add balance? Do you need more vacation time as a family? More Me-time? More downtime at the end of the day? If you are neglecting the activities that will bring balance to your life, the scales will always tip in the wrong direction.
The hard part about prioritizing and “balancing” your life is that parents will have to say NO to things that either they want, or that their kids may want. Your child does not have to play on two teams at once. You do not have to volunteer at every game. No is not a dirty word.