4 Tips for Enjoying Some Downtime in Ministry

When balancing a full-time ministry workload with a family of five, there is a constant battle for my time to be well spent. Time for my own kids, friends, date nights and lazy days watching HGTV and drinking 8 cups of coffee by myself. Time to shower. Time to FINALLY do my nails with all that Jamberry stuff I bought and never used. I really look forward to Christmas break. I love Christmas break and look forward to it every year. My place of employment graciously closes down from Christmas Day to New Years Day and all staff is gifted the week off.  Yeah, I know....Seven WHOLE DAYS to be fully present with my family =  DREAMY!  How do you manage time off when holidays are often  ALWAYS filled with expectations from others? Expectations made loud and clear over text messages, casual conversation, and phone calls. Or sometimes even worse, the unvoiced expectations you didn't hear out loud or read in an email or text, but could sense in your bones. So much to do, to consider, and so much room to disappoint someone somewhere. Oh, Christmas. It's not calm, still or silent.

You know what I am talking about...the "Hey drive here, fly here, come over, Facetime, spend Christmas with us, spend New Years with us, see this movie, finish this baking, send those belated cards, read this book," or rearrange that garage or drive ten different places to keep people happy. Then throw your own growing kids who are almost teenagers into the mix with their own opinions, their own friends to see and holiday gifts to enjoy. You know. When you are 14 you have to be home to play your brand spanking new Xbox One until 1 am with all your friends. All of this packed into 7 days that fly by fast. So fast.

How to manage time off? It feels great to be loved and wanted. There is the constant and mostly loving beckoning of friends, family, and my DVR as the week whittles away. All I REALLY want to do is hibernate in yoga pants and snuggle my 4-year-old and play games with my big kids and date my husband. And see my mom. But she lives on the other side of the country. Here are some tips for managing your time off. These are the 4 essentials that keep me [a recovering people pleaser] sane, rested, and happy when 7 days off disappear before my very eyes. 

1. Carve out time for your home team. Shauna Niequist said this in a podcast I was listening to. She mentioned that not everyone can be on your home team. There is limited space. So be ok with saying no and drawing boundaries so you have time left for your home team. Because every "yes" is a no to someone or something else. So figure out your home team and prioritize around that. You can't and you won't make everyone happy. There will be people and projects you will need to say no to, so you can savor time with those who matter most.
Christmas Road Trip to Visit Friends
11 total hours in the car for a road trip = time carved out for the home team 
2. Don't give all your time away to other people or obligatory events. Unless some epic trip brings you joy and allows you to spend time chilling with your home team, save some time for you and yours. I know that if I don't get at least two uninterrupted PJ days to be home with endless coffee and time dedicated to my own little family of 5, I get grumpy.  Be comfortable saying no or declining that annual Christmas party your neighbor three doors down invites you to. Some obligatory visits are part of the whole not being a selfish person thing....but it's YOUR time off so don't give it all away. 

3. Don't add financial stress. I would have loved to have invented some time machine and travel device to see all of our loved ones on Christmas. But since we live out of state and far from most of our extended family, we just can't hop in a plane and visit everyone. We also cannot afford it! Travel is expensive. I am a youth pastor married to a teacher. We are not raking in the dough here people. And I LOVE being home with SNOW for Christmas break. And flying to Florida or going to Disney after we've blown money on Christmas gifts, just adds stress. We prefer to travel with money from our tax returns in late Feb. when we are sick of the neverending cold or start stashing away cash for a summer trip when we have more time off and less hectic schedules. 

4. If you are going to disappoint someone, don't let it be the people you live with.  What a gift and a GREAT problem to have when you have a long list of friends and family who fight for your time. Chances are, you can't say YES to everyone or stay as long as others would like. Someone will be bummed. Someone will feel left out. You can't help that and you are not responsible for the emotional health of other people. If you are going to inadvertently bum someone out, don't let it be the people you live with. Unless they are roommates you can't stand anyways. I live with my husband and three kids, so my presence with them and their wishes for how to spend their week off matters a ton to me. My kiddos are not little preschoolers [I do have one preschooler] anymore that I can drag around town with an Icee and popcorn to keep them happy. They are growing humans with friends and interests of their own. We have family meetings and together choose how to spend our time off. Everyone is heard and considered. I arrange my time off to prioritize the people I live with and consider them when making plans. 

Those are my 4 tips for arranging your quickly fading time off....good luck! Now I am going to snuggle my 4-year-old. Peace out friends. 


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