Just Saying No

Saying no – this one is a difficult one for me – and I’m not talking about the kids’ drug awareness program.  I’m talking about saying no to some of those activities that seem great at first glance.  Saying no to some of those activities your kids want to participate in.  Saying no some of those worthy volunteer opportunities at school.  Saying no to overcommitting yourself to acts of service in your church.  And saying no to projects and activities that you make up for yourself.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I am not advocating hiding out in a hole and not coming out for anything, but I am referring to balance.  I know that I struggle with this, which is why this article is so important to me.  I need to remind myself as well as help others.  Personally, I receive great joy from helping and serving others.  I love to see my kids participating and happy in extracurricular activities that they love.  And I always seem to find a drawer to clean out or paperwork to organize that zaps my “free time”.

Even now, we have a double soccer season, great activities I am helping out with at school, teaching my snoon’s religious education class, and we have Scouts and Brownies gearing up for the year.   But to preserve my family time, keeping family dinners intact and still having free time to be spontaneous, I will have to say no to some things.  And sometimes saying no truly breaks my heart, but too many things to do can degrade the quality of the service or activity that we participate in.

So here is how I am going to balance family time with activities.

  1. When a new activity comes up, check the calendar!  Before I add anything to the schedule, I have to make sure that it doesn’t interfere with current commitments.  Seems like common sense, doesn’t it?  But you’d be surprised how often conflicts come up that set us running in different directions!
  2. Limit my activities.  Try not to overbook the kids, especially.  As much fun as they have with all the sports and classes, they need their downtime too – time for homework, time to play, time to just be a kid!
  3. Prioritize!  When activities overlap, I need to have decided ahead of time what is most important to me and my family.  Religion class is one of those commitments that comes first.  We’ll just have to be a little late to basketball practice or miss scouts one night to make sure that we attend class!  Trying to make those decisions at game time make everyone a little more stressed.
  4. As much as possible, keep family meals intact – even if this means eating a little bit later or earlier.  Prepare meals in advance if you need to.  Or even make extra food on slow nights to serve as leftovers on busy days.  My family is a big fan of leftovers!
  5. Avoid the tendency to fill up free time.  Now that my youngest is off to school this fall, I have an idealized view of free hours while she is off at school.  I dream that I’ll be able to do my household chores and errands quickly and efficiently, leaving plenty of time for extra Bible studies, mass, adoration and volunteering at school.  However, I am starting to realize that those three hours a day will quickly pass, likely leaving more on my to-do list than I started with.
  6. Reserve one night for the family.  This may not be the same night every week, but just do it.  Make your family the priority.  Make it family game night or movie night.  We love to just snuggle and read books on the couch all evening.


We are not here on this earth to fill our calendars but to serve and love those God has placed in our lives.  May God help us preserve and strengthen our precious families.

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