One Easy Way to Simplify Family Life

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This time of year many of us start to think about simplicity.

Practicing Christian simplicity is about doing less or having less in order to focus more on God. I think many of us want to better practice simplicity in our family lives but find it hard to know where to say no.

Something that has helped our family make decisions is our very simple list of priorities, in order: faith, family, school, sports.

Using this list helps us to know what to say yes to and what to say no to. For example, although both of our boys love sports and we love watching them play, one rule we’ve adopted is only one sport a season. For our family currently it’s soccer in the fall and baseball in the spring. There is always pressure to play extra off-season leagues for both sports, and my husband and I decided long ago as a family that it was not the right choice for us.

Yet this year we tried something different and let our older son play in a fall baseball league in addition to soccer. The whole experience actually reinforced why we had been right in the first place to have the one sport per season rule!

Here are some of the reasons why we’ve re-committed to this choice:

  1. Playing one sport at a time allows our sons to really focus on and enjoy that sport. My older son really loves baseball, but squeezing baseball into the corners of a soccer-dominated schedule seemed to be almost confusing for him. He’s kind of an all-in kid, and he wasn’t sure where to put his heart. I strongly believe both of my boys enjoy and appreciate each sport more when it is their sole focus for a few months.
  2. One sport is exhausting enough, not just for them in terms of their energy and free time but for me in getting them to practices and games. Twice-a-week practices and weekly games already leave little time for just relaxing or doing fun after-school things as a family. Too many afternoons of practice can also interfere with homework, and for us family and school are both higher priorities than sports.
  3. Off-season sports tend to schedule all games on Sundays. Although we do occasionally have to miss church for tournaments or other special games, signing up for a league where all the games are played on the day where we go to church doesn’t fit with faith as our highest family priority.

Listing it all this way makes the decision sound easy, but it doesn’t always feel that way. There is a lot of pressure on young athletes and parents to do more more more. We fear our player getting behind or missing out on a fun experience with his or her friends. That’s all the more reason why it’s important to slow down and make such decisions carefully.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.

Matthew 6:33

What are some of the ways you simplify family life? When do you decide to say no and yes? What are your top family priorities?

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