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How to Carve Out Family Time When Life Gets Busy

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Ever experience too much busy? I’ve started nicknaming it “bad busy.” It’s that moment when you realize your schedule resembles the lineup for the Olympic Games. Finding ways to carve out family time when life gets “bad busy” becomes as easy as chasing a dropped receipt on a windy day.

Here is a real-life example.

I once experienced a schedule implosion. Turns out it was the best thing that could have happened.

I hosted a play date, joined a mentorship program in my community, spent four hours freelancing, visited my parents, ran errands, and attended a leadership meeting at church.

That was Wednesday.

The whole week had been like that. Later that night, I sat in a daze with my hair going every direction like a cartoon bomb had gone off in my lap. I hated seeing my two kids get shuttled around so much. We hardly saw their dad.

The next morning, I canceled my appointments and spent the day with my kids.

Turns out my husband felt just as over cooked and took a day off from work, too. The effect was instant. We mowed our lawn before it went to seed. I washed and folded AND put away the kids’ clothes (be amazed). I made a salad instead of letting the rest of the Costco baby spinach in the fridge rot.

We found our balance...

I boiled down three key takeaways from my experience of tipping the scale into too much busyness. Here they are in order.

1. Pencil it in.

Be as intentional with your down time as you are with your regular appointments and errands. Don’t just schedule the doctor visits and dental cleanings. Jot down slots of time with your family or schedule an alert into your phone.

2. Identify the “bad busy” cues.

How do you know if you’ve overbooked your family? Watch your kids. They really are deep-feeling, little humans. When things get unnecessarily nuts, I can count on my kids to react like a dog before an approaching thunderstorm.

These are some of my actual thoughts that led me to discover we’d crossed into “bad busy” territory:

  • “Why are the kids crawling up the walls today?”
  • “He’s painting his hair with his peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
  • “Did she just say that to my face?”

Yeah, sometimes kids just act out, but odds are, “bad busy” has been vying for your attention. If so, it might be time to unplug, slow down, and get out the finger paints before you lose all your strawberry jelly.

3. Practice the art of saying “No.”

If you’ve landed in the whirlwind of busyness, it’s probably time to do some weeding. There are so many good things I’ve said yes to in the past. In my experience, they eventually overtake my schedule and, if left unchecked, result in a burnout.

(Burnouts often resemble me slumped over with a pint of cookie dough ice cream and “Once Upon a Time” streaming on Netflix. Actually, that’s the best case scenario. I likely wouldn’t make it out of the hallway after putting the kids to bed. Who doesn’t love a carpet print on their cheek after an involuntary power nap on a Friday night?)

It’s alright to say no to some good things if they make room for that one great thing. And making time for your family is a great thing.

Life is meant to be lived. Go enjoy it. But don’t let “bad busy” attack all your free time. Hopefully, applying these steps will help you carve out family time this week.

Your Turn: How do you balance busyness with family time? We’d love to hear your advice in the comments below!

-- Laura Harris



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