I am always surprised with how the first day of September sneaks up on me. For most of my life, it has meant "back to school" and in a couple years, it will mean that again... in a new way.
Even without school, as a parent, now of two children, my life has become more full than I could have imagined. The ironic part is, I've always thought that. When I was in high school, I thought that my life was full, and, from my perspective, it was. When I was in college, more hours of school work, at my job, and developing relationships that I will carry the rest of my life added "stuff" to the schedule I thought was already full. After college, I started a job that could have been a career. 60 hour work weeks and a wife suddenly seemed like more than anyone could handle... That is until I went to seminary; the longest and most grueling vocational master's degree a person could get. I added a child, started a ministry internship, moved to help care for a sick parent, flipped a condo, moved again to start full time as a solo pastor at a declining church, and still hadn't finished the hardest semester of seminary. Yet none of this prepared me for a second child, which added half again as much to my "full docket".
Everything demanded more attention and could easily have (and sometimes did) overwhelm me.
What have I learned?
The amount of things vying for your attention will only increase; it is up to you to set your schedule and priorities in line with your values.
While that might seem trivial, September will bring for us a torrent of new things demanding our time and attention. Where the COVID-Spring slowed down life, we have adapted and now avoiding COVID seems to add more, not less, to our plates.
So what should you do?
Make a list of your values.
Organize activities and priorities around those values.
Learn to "say no" (I know it's hard!) to things that make you compromise those activities and priorities.
Help your family do the same
Is family a value that sitting around a dinner table helps you cultivate? Stop compromising it. Is faith a value that engaging with God helps you cultivate? Stop compromising it. Is community a value that COVID is making complicated? Figure it out rather than quitting on it. Is kindness a value that social media is making it hard to live up to? Unsubscribe.
If I've learned anything, it is that the one thing "more stuff" (read September) should not change is your values.
Stop letting it.