My type A personality permeates through our family life. When I am on time, the girls think I am late. When I set goals, I must satisfy them earlier than expected. When I decided to blog, I had to be a least a month ahead in writing my posts so I did not feel behind.
All that planning ahead + scheduling came to a halt when the coronavirus changed my day to day life. In March before life stopped, I had decided that April would be about cultivating plans. Thinking about the future, scheduling our summer vacations, implementing summer weekly schedules, and hosting backyard barbecues at our home were all in the queue for posts.
During such extraordinary circumstances, I could pivot and write about another topic. However, I feel like a time of reflection would be beneficial before exploring my family’s future plans and commitments. Between the tension of loss and blessing there must be lessons I can apply going forward in my life.
This week (since I am still blogging a month ahead ;)) we started opting out of our normal scheduled activities. By the end of the week, everything in the month of March was canceled. As I am writing this post, I am living in both realities: loss of community + the gift of time.
Loss of community
There was not time for goodbyes or closures. Activities just stopped. My middle daughter, Heidi, had just earned her first solo and excitement was growing for her upcoming choir concert. Tickets were purchased and time was spent making sure she was at every practice. She was thrilled that a year’s worth of hard work paid off. Then came the email. Not only was next week’s practice canceled, the season was over.
The disappointment was immediate. Heidi not only thrived in choir, she had a great relationship with her teacher. Her first question was if she would see her teacher again. Relationships that were fostered over the last year ended so abruptly. I wasn’t able to give clear answers on when and how closure would come for Heidi.
Similar to the example of Heidi’s choir, the rest of the family was experiencing loss of community. It felt like with in a matter of 24 hours we went from lots of activities on the calendar to at least 2 weeks at home.
The gift of time
There is a flip side to the loss of community through our activities and commitments. Now we have time. An abundance of time as a family at home. No more nightly activities. No more planning who is doing drop off or pick up. No more eating dinner on the go.
Now, I have time to unplug and reflect on our weekly schedule. I am currently basking in the slowness, relieved my mornings are free of planning, and delighting in having time to create. The girls are building forts, treasure hunting in our keepsakes, and helping to create activities to keep our afternoons fun.
I am reflecting on how I can make the time we have been given purposeful. How can I foster a family culture that tightens family bonds while giving space for individuality? Time is a fixed commodity. Am I using the time we have been given in the best way?
reflection on Time commitments
When life starts back up again and emails begin filling my inbox about next school year’s activities, I want to find a better balance. I want to look at the broader impact of our family’s schedule.
As I begin to think about next year’s calendar, these are some of the questions I am asking myself.
- What if we prioritized 3 weeknights that we don’t schedule activities?
- How does this activity impact the family?
- Is this something we can do during our school day instead of in the evenings?
- What is motivating us to be part of this activity?
- What is the desired outcome from participating in this activity?
Right now, I want to chose nights where we prioritize family and say no to all the great activities. Instead of carving out time for family, I want to schedule time for family first. Upon reflection, evenings at home are a gift, true freedom, and a way to be more purposeful.
I want to flip the way I plan our life upside down. Instead of starting with an empty calendar and filling it up, I want to cross off days that are exclusively for us. I want to be more selfish with our family time.
Wrapping up On Reflection
As our family’s strengths and weaknesses become more evident, I want to be more mindful about how we use our time. I want to remember the blessing of time that we have been given due to the stay at home order in Illinois. I want to learn from our past academic year and make changes that will positively impact our family culture.
This time of pulling back and slowing down is time to be treasured. Will I feel different after “normal” life resumes? I don’t know. I do know that I love summer with Mike + the girls. I love unscheduled time where we create and explore as a family. I want to remember what my thoughts were when our schedules opened up and I had time for reflection.
What are your takeaways during this abundance of time?
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