Last week, I talked about the importance of spending quiet time with God when you’re feeling out of balance in your life.
You can read that here.
Women ask me from a practical standpoint, how do you balance so many priorities and keep them in balance?
My answer? I don’t.
Let me be clear: No one can always perfectly balance everything.
There will be days when one area of your life or another will demand your time, and you have to give attention to it. It might be your husband one day, your children the next, and the mountains of laundry that have piled up the next day.
You just need to keep the balls in the air or the plates spinning as best as you can.
The only way to balance is to keep watch.
Keep watch, and as you see an area that is getting out of balance, stop.
Stop everything else and make that area a priority.
Give it the attention it deserves.
And then move on to the next thing.
Of course, there will be days when several things might need your attention, but if you have a few systems in place, those days should be fewer and farther apart.
Over the years, my family and I have developed a system like this; I call it my “personal protection plan.” Gary and I have used these guidelines to help us keep our priorities in place, so we have less days of feeling out of balance.
All of these may not work for you and your family, but many of them might. Try implementing as many of these as you can and see if they don’t help you get one step closer to living your priorities.
1. Pray & Read the Bible
In the mornings, I pray and read my Bible before I get out of bed. Every night, I pray as I get ready for bed. I also talk to God throughout the day, as needs arise, or as I get moments alone. If I need a break or feel I have neglected myself lately, I take a hot bath and use it as time to think and pray.
2. Stay Up-to-Date
I check on the news or read the Wall Street Journal to keep up with what’s going on in the world around me.
3. Do Something Physical
I do something physical every day, whether it’s a walk, playing with my grandbabies, or going for a bike ride. Sometimes I exercise, but not religiously.
4. Have a Date Night
Gary and I have a date or at least one meal alone every week. We’ve done this for years, even when our children were young.
5. Have a Family Meal
We have always had at least one meal a day as a family. I’m surprised by how many families don’t eat together at all. Mealtimes are special. As I’ve traveled around the world, I’ve noticed that we Americans do a poorer job of enjoying our meals together and having good conversations with one another. Ball games, school activities, working overtime, and almost everything else take precedence over what should be our priority—family.
We have to learn to say no to activities that will replace our family life if we can’t manage to work them in without stealing the precious time we have with our children.
6. Have a Family Day
We have one day a week that is our “family day.” On that day, we don’t do things with others as a rule, and we don’t allow anyone to schedule anything else on that day. We established this pattern with our children when they were young so it wasn’t a problem to manage it even when they became teens. They actually looked forward to being together.
Every once in awhile, Gary and I have failed to say no to an outside situation, and our children have called us on it. If we had to travel without the children, we have rescheduled a few family days, but for the most part, we keep our family day sacred. Whether at the beginning or end of family day, we try to pray together.
7. Take Breaks
Every ninety days, we take a break (three days at least) with our family. Our motto is: Work hard; play hard. As a family, we talk, play cards, laugh, swim, hike, cook together, etc. We just enjoy being with one another.
This break doesn’t have to be an expensive get-a-way. We started these breaks by going to state lodges and campgrounds. As our personal finances grew, we turned them into more elaborate vacations at times. Once a year, we go away for at least two full weeks or more. This gives us a break from the pastorate and our businesses and helps us to really appreciate our family, allowing us to gain a fresh perspective on life. Gary and I believe everyone needs a two-week break once a year to truly detox and spend uninterrupted time with our families.