It is far too early to be thinking about school starting. I am savoring the summer, enjoying the fact that we still have more to come. I enjoy the longer and slower days and the easing of schedules and responsibilities.

Family vacation gives us distance from our normal life. We take time to talk about what is working well and what needs changing. I am following advice to:

Mormon Family“Find a retreat of peace and quiet where periodically you can ponder and let the Lord establish the direction of your life. Each of us needs to periodically check our bearings and confirm that we are on course…In a quiet moment write down your responses. Analyze them. Make any necessary adjustments. Put first things first. Do the best you can while on earth to have an ideal family.” (Richard G. Scott, First Things First, Conference Report, April 2001, p. 8)

I am not very motivated to think ahead to the business of the kids’ fall schedule, but I know it will come. It will be busy – schedules, responsibilities, homework, sports, lessons, holidays. I know once the train gets moving, it is a hard one to stop. Last year as we raced from one activity to the next, I was over-stressed. I suspected that I was “in the thick of thin things.” (Anonymous)

This year, I wonder: Should I sign my boys up for sports? Should my daughter re-enroll for dance? Should I be willing to drive for an hour to see that my child has an excellent music teacher? All of these things are good, there is no doubt. But will all of these activities allow our family to eat together, play together, work together and learn together?

When my children are too busy, it is easy to skip even the basics – a made bed, a clean room, a chore, a decent meal, sleep, or time to just be together. The activity is good, but it could be preventing us from something better.

My life may be what the prophet Daniel saw when he described the last days: “…many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Daniel 12:4)

I seem to be running to and fro just about every day. Our family has great opportunities to choose from, but just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.

“We live in a world that is filled with options. If we are not careful, we will find every minute jammed with social events, classes, exercise time, book clubs, scrapbooking, Church callings, music, sports, the Internet, and our favorite TV shows. One mother told me of a time that her children had 29 scheduled commitments every week: music lessons, Scouts, dance, Little League, day camps, soccer, art, and so forth. She felt like a taxi driver. Finally, she called a family meeting and announced, “Something has to go; we have no time to ourselves and no time for each other.” Families need unstructured time when relationships can deepen and real parenting can take place. Take time to listen, to laugh, and to play together.” (M. Russell Ballard, “Daughters of God,” Ensign, May 2008, 108–10)

I got some help prioritizing several months ago. I heard a talk given by Dallin H. Oaks, apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (known as the Mormons). He noted that some things are good, some are better and some are best.

“We have to forego some good things in order to choose others that are better or best because they develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthen our families. (Dallin H. Oaks, “Good, Better, Best,” Liahona, Nov 2007, 104–8)

So what is “best”?

The best things “…seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness;” (Matthew 6:33)

I am coming to the conclusion that less is more. Dance is good, but a daughter who has time to do her homework, practice music, eat at home and get enough sleep may be better. Soccer is good, but doing family chores together on Saturday morning may be better. It will take some thought. We will choose carefully. Hopefully our choices will follow the counsel of the First Presidency of the Church:

“However worthy and appropriate other demands or activities may be, they must not be permitted to displace the divinely-appointed duties that only parents and families can adequately perform.” (First Presidency letter, Feb 11, 1999; printed in Church News, Feb 27, 1999, 3)

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