Ephesians 5:16 reminds us to “redeem the time,” which literally means to buy back or make the most of our time. Time is a precious commodity, and we are responsible to use what time we have in a way that most honors the Lord. Helping children learn to balance what and how much they do is teaching them a lifelong skill. As you work on a daily basis to balance daily schedules and demands, consider these practical reminders:
- Aim for no more than three activities. While they love activity, children can burn out with little notice. Some families find it helpful to set a two to three activity limit, meaning the student might be involved in soccer, karate, and art lessons. Instead of automatically taking on another activity when an opportunity arises, parents evaluate with the child whether or not to suspend a current activity for that opportunity or decline it for that time. Preset limits help avoid hasty decisions that result in parents and students being overstretched.
- Broaden and vary their horizons. Although it is good to pursue areas in your child’s interests, introduce him/her to new opportunities. A child who is only in multiple sports year-round is missing the cultural training of music or art lessons. Start slowly and gauge interest before committing long-term in time or finances. Who knows, perhaps your child will find a new interest and talent to develop for the Lord!
- Schedule downtime. It is vital that students be allowed to be children. After activities and homework are done, be sure there is still time left for them to explore, create, and play.
- Watch for burnout, fatigue, and stress. Once a commitment is made, it is easy to get into a fast-paced routine of trying to get through traffic, arrive on time, fulfill responsibilities, and move on to the next activity. This stress can take a toll on children without their even realizing it. Frequent stomachaches, headaches, clinginess—and even a lack of interest or attention to the activity—can all be signs of a need to step back and de-stress.
- Guard family and church time. It is easy to justify travel time and attendance at events as family time, but children still need that time with their families away from activity. Time spent together around meals, reading, playing games, and ministering is invaluable and irreplaceable. Being involved in activities is important in many areas, but the bond of a loving family is vital and far more impacting.