Last night, a well meaning friend tried to get the Emperor to join a very good group that does very good works. He declined as politely as possible and we ended up talking about it later.
Discernment is so important! What is God asking you to do? What should you be doing? Just because it's good , doesn't mean you should do it! The group was good, but if you try to do every good thing (either for yourself, or your kids) you end up exhausted and missing the joy in your life.
One thing we have noticed is that when we get too busy, our relationship devolves into "co-workers." Don't get me wrong, the Emperor is amiable, creative, and hard working. He makes an excellent co-worker, and that's always an aspect of our relationship. But he's also my best friend and spouse! We need time to talk, to have fun, be silly, be romantic, discuss current events, movies, and big ideas.
I think that if you only have a few kids, you can probably get away with a tighter schedule because you only have young kids for a short period of time. You know you are making a sacrifice for a particular period of time. With a lot of kids, all bets are off! I can't put my relationship on hold while my kids are small... nor can I put off growing as an individual. This is my life!
I think that's something I like about this time in my life. I live much more in the present than I used to. I enjoy the here and now and I like to see what I can do with it. I also have become fairly protective of my time. We have a number of health issues (doctors appointments - currently 8+ hours a week) and solid commitments (Dominicans, DJMs, Scouts, co-op) as well as the main job of home schooling, of course. I also think it's important to have time for the people I love and those who need help.
It's a priority for me to have time for the Queen Mum (my dear MIL). She drops by an afternoon a week to have tea and visit. It's a priority for me to have time and space to lend an ear or a shoulder or some baby sitting for my friends. Do I let it take over so that I can't do stuff with my kids? No, I try to be balanced. Have I got the balance right? NO! Right now, I don't have enough time scheduled in for excercise. But I'm getting better! And a big part of that is not scheduling every moment.
I am curious to see how the balance will shift as my kids get older and more involved.