Back to the decision-making process we were talking about two days ago, once I've analyzed my motives to make sure I'm not making a decision for the wrong reasons, it's time to move forward. Here's what I do:
1) Pray . . . unfortunately I don't always do this first, but obviously this is the right place to start. I pray not just that I'll make the right decision, but also that my thought process will be clear, that I'll hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, and that people will give me good advice.
2) Begin with the end in mind. What is my goal in raising these kids we've been given to nurture and love? I've touched on this in my 100 things posts (which I really will get back to at some point). It's easy to get so caught up in the daily chores of parenting that we forget the end goal, which for me is to raise kids who turn into adults who love Jesus and serve others with the gifts they've been given. And I'd like them to well-rounded in the process and have good priorities and values for their lives. As I make decisions about various things along the way, I want all my decisions to contribute to, or at least not detract from, that end goal.
3) Leave margin. This is a hard one in our culture. Kids need to play, to get outside, to be creative, to explore the world and discover their place in it. And all those things take time. Lots of it. If we fill their schedule so full that they don't have downtime, they will miss out on all of those things that are so important for their development. Sometimes margin means cutting out weekend activities (other than church, of course). Can you even imagine that? If you can't, maybe it's time to consider it as a possibility. Sometimes it means scaling back on those things you've always done. Sometimes it means scheduling a family vacation even though you don't have enough money for your dream vacation--just do something simple.
4) Consider the whole family. Sometimes a child needs to sacrifice an activity they want to do because it's not good for the rest of the family. Sometimes a child needs to sacrifice their daily nap so you can go to an older child's activity. It's good for kids to learn to think of others as well as themselves, so what looks like a sacrifice may turn out to be just what that child needed--a chance to serve their family.
5) Do the best you can, and then let it go. Once you've weighed all the factors, make a decision and then don't keep second-guessing it. Don't keep beating yourself up because you had to make a tough call and your child is trying to make you feel guilty about it. They'll get over it, and you will too, and down the road maybe a different decision will be the best one. Just because you are opting out of ballet for this semester does not mean you'll never do it again, it just means you're not doing it this semester. Rest in the knowledge that you made the best decision you could.