life pace

How To Create Space For A Healthy Family Pace

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The picture above doesn't look like much, in fact, it doesn't look like anything at all! Garbled, unreadable, cluttered, stressful it just doesn't make sense. So, why the picture?

The picture is significant because it's this entire post without any space. Without space the message is unclear at best, unreadable at worst. Words on a page need space in order to make sense. We really don't notice when space is there, but when it isn't, we can tell. Without space words loose their meaning and, you can see where I am going with this, without space, people loose their meaning too.

Without space our overscheduled and unchecked lives become garbled, unreadable, cluttered, stressful and it just doesn't make sense.

Creating space around and within our schedule allows for freedom of movement.

How do we create space around our work and family life?

It honestly comes down to healthy boundaries and healthy awareness. At times I schedule appointments and things I need to get done back to back to back. 8:00-9:00 then 9:00-10:00 then 10:00-11:00 and it allows me to accomplish more because the "get it done gene" inside me likes the feeling of accomplishment. This "lack of space" in my day also allows me to be less tolerant toward others (usually toward the ones I love) , and give me a sense of accomplishment buy staying "busy."

We all need to create a little space in our lives. Call it what you want, wiggle room, balance, margin, me time, whatever you call it, "it" won't work unless you practice it. I will be the first to NOT point a finger. The picture here is a screen shot right from my calendar. 

Clearly I'm a work in progress. I will tell you that my schedule rarely looks like this anymore and it's an exception rather than the rule however, occasionally, I fall back in to old habits and bump things right up against each other with no space. And, on occasion, I actually overlap things hoping the "time fairy" will actually give me more time.

So, I'm writing this post for me...and you!

Let's think about creating some space. Let's think about setting a few healthy boundaries or borders or margins or limits so life makes sense!

Creating Some Space For A Healthy Pace

1. Create Space For YOUR Family

Creating space for your family takes one thing into consideration...YOUR family. It's not being selfish it's being real. For instance, a healthy no for your family could be another family’s healthy yes. Space within your family's schedule needs to make sense for your family not the family at church or down the street.

2. Create Space You Can See

A calendar is a great place to see open space. Without a few lines between sentences a paragraph looses meaning and the same is true with family. Without a few moments between appointments or after school activities life becomes a grind filled with hurry not joy. You will often hear the phrase, "happy and healthy." You never hear, "hurried and healthy."

3. Create Space For Face to Face

When you are running from here to there with no margin or space life feels like one big hamster wheel. You are doing a lot of work but to no end. Get some face time with your spouse and talk about ways to loosen up your schedule and create space so life doesn't feel so rushed and non-stop.

Once you create some space, you will notice things begin to change. Please understand, things won’t change overnight; they will change over time. You will most likely experience a bit of negative feedback from your children, whose lives are suddenly altered with "down time." However, after the initial shock has worn off, you will all experience a less rushed and more healthy family life.

Are You Living Life End-To-End Or And-To-And?

Modern culture allows us to live in a way that keeps us not only physically busy but mentally and emotionally busy as well. I can remember growing up playing three different sports because each sport had its own season. There was a beginning to the season and an end. Today there is often a beginning, but rarely is there an end to any sport or activity.

When I was a child life offered us fewer choices. I had one video game: Pong. That was the extent of my video game choice. I couldn’t play my video game with friends from another country or even from around the corner. To me, the world was big and slow. As parents you and I were, in some ways, forced to live life end to end. Take a look at what could have been a typical parent schedule 30 years ago.

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Life happened end to end, because it was the only way it could be done. You couldn’t start a work-related phone call at home and walk out to your car to continue the conversation. Unless, of course, you went to Radio Shack and bought one of those fifty-foot phone cords, but that would only get you to the car, not down the street!

Once you got to the office, you could make a call or answer mail. No, not email, just mail. You remember mail, don’t you? Those paper envelopes delivered to a little box outside your house or to your office?

Living life end to end had its advantages. There were natural boundaries built into life, which meant we didn’t need to think about them too much. Today’s modern family has a vast array of choices. We are compelled to set healthy boundaries or suffer the consequences of busyness, hurry and out-of-pace living.

When our culture made a drastic change in the way families spend their time; when we gained the capability of living life on multiple layers at the same time, we didn’t live life end to end anymore. We can and, in many ways, must live life and to and.

There are benefits to both ways of living. However, there is more potential for an unhealthy pace of life with the latter. Take a look at a typical parent schedule from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m in today’s modern world. It could look something like this.

See how much we can do in such a short amount of time when we live life and to and? Our ability has outpaced our capacity, and that leads to a question for each of us to consider: Has our capacity for doing more increased?

As I process that question, I am inclined to say no, it hasn’t. Our capacity hasn’t changed, but our ability to reach it has. If you have a 16-ounce glass and want to pour 18 ounces into it, you most certainly can. However, as we all know, a 16-ounce glass holds 16 ounces, and no more. So, if you choose to pour 18 ounces into a 16-ounce glass, you will have a 2-ounce mess.

Two Questions For Each of Us To Ponder

Are you pouring 18oz of lifestyle into a 16oz glass? If so, what two ounces are you making a mess with?

If I were to answer that question honestly I would tell you the “mess” went to my family. They got the left overs, they got what was spilled and it shouldn’t be that way. The solution, in my opinion is to do the best we can to live life end to end not and to and. What do you think?