I am finishing up a book entitled The 3 Big Questions for a Frantic Family by Patrick Lencioni. Simple book. Right on the money.
Essentially, the book talks about different ways families can achieve goals by planning ahead and implementing measures to get them on the right track.
The primary example outlined in the book (which is a fable) is a family who is desperate to simplify life in order to spend more time together. Like most of us, this family has sports events, school meetings, work trips, church involvement, and other extracurricular activities all vying for space on the calendar.
As a volunteer baseball coach, and as a pastor for a church actively involved in the community, I encounter families all the time who are simply tapped out. Parents who have no time to serve, no time to sleep, no time to just chill. In the short term, sometimes this cannot be avoided. But, as a lifestyle, I have found that almost all the time, parents and families make choices that pin them in overextend them.
Much of this stems from people wanting to do too many GOOD things. They want their kids to be actively involved in church, sports, music lessons, and countless school programs. And, they themselves also want to be active participants and supporters of the things their kids do. But, there are times when parents want to also cram in their own personal activities - Bible studies, tennis teams, softball leagues, concerts, etc. - and it just seems impossible.
The bottom line is that something has got to give. Kids don't need to play two sports each season, or do guitar lessons on top of a 3-month soccer commitment. They don't need to be in every play, every recital, every Scout activity. Are there benefits of their involvement? Sure. But, remember that there are opportunity costs that come along with these choices - such as more time for studies, time as a family (meals together, social time), and play time.
I never want to deprive my kids of opportunities to participate in a life-enriching activity. But, I also don't want to miss precious time I could be spending with them myself.
I encourage you to pick up Lencioni's book - and put the principles to work in your family. You might be amazed at how practical - and simple - these measures can be to achieve your family's elusive goals!