The Beauty of Boundaries…One Major/One Minor

Wow!  Yesterday’s discussion about nutrition was wonderful.  So many of you are intentional about what your kids are eating.  There were some WONDERFUL ideas shared. If you’re looking for some great strategies for healthy eating, check out yesterday’s comments here!

Congrats to Stephanie (calcari) who was the winner of yesterday’s drawing for the ViveLeDish book!  Stephanie, I’ll contact you by email to get your info to send out your book!

Over on our Real Moms…Real Jesus Facebook study, we’ve been talking about boundaries. In order to find balance in our lives and to give our family our best, we have to be willing to set up boundaries.  Jesus was a master at setting boundaries and we can learn so much from Him!

One boundary I’ve found to be helpful is making an advance decision of how many activities outside the home I will commit to.  Many years ago a friend shared with me the concept of One Major/One Minor.  I’ve found this to be so helpful!

This boundary is an advance decision I make to only commit to one major responsibility outside the home and one minor responsibility outside the home at a time.

A major responsibility is something that I have on a regular (weekly) basis like committing to teach Sunday School, leading a moms group, or even full-time work.  It requires daily or weekly (or almost weekly) preparation and a regular commitment.

A minor responsibility is a “just show up” responsibility.  Working in the church nursery or helping with my child’s Christmas party at school are minor responsibilities.  No prep needed, just show up, serve, and leave.

If I get asked to do a Major responsibility, I have to make a choice: either quit the major responsibility I’m currently doing or say no to the request.

I started using this boundary many years ago when I was home full-time and it applied only to my volunteer activities.  Now, however, I’m working more at Hearts at Home.  Yes, much of it is from my home, but the responsibilities are daily and more intense.  So now I’ve realized that my work leading Hearts at Home, writing, and speaking IS my major.  No more major responsibilities for me.

Do I grieve that?  Yes.  Are there some things I’d love to say yes to?  Yes.

But am I less stressed and more focused as a wife and mother?  Absolutely!

That’s the beauty of boundaries!

What about you? Do you have a boundary/guideline you use to determine how many activities you say yes to?  


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9 thoughts on “The Beauty of Boundaries…One Major/One Minor

  1. My daughter is 4 1/2. She just starting a once-a-week ballet class that is 45 minutes one afternoon. I was so excited there is an extracurricular activity that fits with our family priorities: It’s affordable ($25/month), no extravagant costumes are required, it’s in the afternoon so it doesn’t interrupt our dinners/evenings, and it’s only ballet so there’s none of the questionable dancing. Even though we are just starting, we want to be wise with our activity commitments.

    Likewise, my husband and I used to lead a small group through our church, but God spoke to us about giving it up for awhile. God has since reassured us that we did the right thing by bringing other priorities into our life. We’re involved in another small group and the other families who were in our old group have gotten plugged in elsewhere, so it’s encouraging to see God working. Sometimes saying “not now” is beneficial to everyone involved.

    So to answer your question, we evaluate whether something fits into our priorities as a family. We want to have dinner together, stick to a bedtime *most* nights, and spend time with people we care about. When those things are being sacrificed, we’re doing too much and need to take a step back.

  2. For our 7 year old, we do only one weekly activity at a time. (cheerleading in winter, baseball in spring and summer). These activities take up two nights per week- one practice night and one game night. That’s plenty for a 1st grader! Her Girl Scout troop only meets two Thursdays a month, and whenever she has a spelling or Bible verse test the next day and she isn’t quite prepared, we don’t do Girl Scouts that night. We find that one sport and Girl Scouts is plenty and no more than we want to commit her to. It works well for us.

  3. I am working on handing my extra things over to other people. I remember hearing this and I feel so much more relaxed as I give things up. I still have too many majors, but I am whittling them down. I have been hearing God saying to me, that he can’t give me anything new if my hands are already full 😉

  4. This is such a hard one for me! There are so many good things out there that I end up saying yes to. I have to evaluate and prune occasionally, but I’m way over the limit of one major and one minor right now.
    The problem is when we say yes to these things we are saying no to our family, or even to our own dreams and goals.
    I am on the Ladies Retreat Committee (4 yr commitment). I don’t love this, and kind of wish it was over, but 1 more year after this.
    I was Co-ordinator for the Welcome Center at church, but just passed the baton on to someone else because our son plays hockey and has occasional Sunday morning games.
    Right after letting go of that commitment, I was asked to be a mentor at Alpha Family Center, which lines up with everything I’d ever want in a job/ministry. Helping women, family, marriage, pro life. 🙂 I’m excited about this, but it is a weekly commitment. (just show up though)
    My husband and I are on the Family Life prayer and conference team and church co-ordinators.
    Lastly, I am in charge of our Secret Sister program, but we only get together once a year, exchange names, etc…

    Other than that, I try to do online Bible studies or on my own, and do a lot of reading. I also homeschool my 12 yr. old, have 2 girls in public school, an older son who is married and out of the house, but still needs me to take them places because they don’t have a car, and his son (my grandson) does not live with him (=visitation). I also work as a crossing guard before and after school 5 days a week, etc…

    I was just asked to join a small (Sisters Living in Moderation) group at our church, which I love the idea of, as I’m doing the Made to Crave study and need accountability, but it’s another night every week that I’d be gone.

    On top of all of this, I’ve finally pursued my dream of writing by starting a blog, and would like to turn it into an extra income opportunity eventually.

    So, thanks for this post Jill. I’m thinking now about whether I should do that small group or not. I’d love to be off the ladies retreat committee, but (sigh) afraid of bailing on my commitment. And even the Family Life thing… something to think about after this year.
    Any comments/suggestions from anyone is welcome. 😉

    • I am sure that others have had to “bail” before too. Is there someone you can talk to about finding a replacement? And there are ways to let a “commitment” down easy….Be honest that God is calling you in another direction and that you cannot give this the full attention is deserves. Give them a month or two to find a replacement and then go. If God means for that ministry to continue He will find a way to fill your spot! Maybe there is someone else that maybe hasn’t said something, because they don’t see that they are needed, but wants to help. It’s AMAZING what happens when you let God switch things up!

  5. I wonder if as women, wives, friends and mothers there will always be that guilt of wanting to be it all for the people that we love in our lives. If this is as hard for others as it is for me, I wonder how we could also learn to support one another as we “prune” our boundaries (I am borrowing that word from someone as I loved the way that sounded :). Over the years I feel like the bigger struggle for me is not feeling guilty about limiting those outside commitments. I have so many interests and intent to help and volunteer. I think what has helped me to release the guilt is remembering that one thing I can do is pray for the commitments, requests, and needs that are on my heart to help but can’t when I know I am already committed. And remembering that my number one ministry is to my family and my home. I have heard recently about intentional friendships among women that help us to really dig deep into our lives to help us with boundaries and keeping our thoughts God focused. Maybe that could help too 🙂

  6. Thank you so much for the reminder. I heard you talk about this at HAH last year when I was thinking of transitioning from working mostly full time to being at home. And I kept that boundary…for a few months. Now I’ve let too many “majors” back into my life. Prayerfully considering what ones to release myself from to restore a little calm to the family.

  7. I love this idea . . . one major and one minor. I am a part of your Facebook Book Study and when I read this in the book it specifically related to volunteer activities. I have been considering applying the idea to not only my volunteer opportunities, but also hobbies, paying work responsibilities (if I have some control of them), projects, and other areas of life. It is sort of freeing . . . giving myself the freedom of the boundary and the ability to say, “no”, so that I am better able to say yes the ministry of my family that God has given me now.

  8. Jill, I want to thank you again for this wise advice. I don’t remember how long ago/which Hearts Conf. you first shared this, but it sunk in and I have recalled it over & over. I believe you first put it in terms of “only one long term committment and only one short term committment at a time”. This has helped me so much. I have been home for 23 yrs now and for most of the first 20 yrs, my long term committment was to say no to any requests that would take me out of the home for meetings day or night (which eliminated almost everything) because I was homeschooling and my husband was, with my support, because of his unique skill set, doing enough volunteer work, aside from his profession, to account for both of us. Only after our oldest was through nursing school & working as a professional, our second was doing well in college, and our youngest was clearly successful with his high school at home studies, and with the blessing of my husband and children, did I say yes to a long term committment of my own, in volunteer ministry. It is not always easy to keep up with everything now (but when I am weak, then He is strong…) and I have tremendous respect for organized working moms who do things well… I have been humbled and have learned many lessons and I thank God for all the years at home and this new season of growth via stretching & pruning 🙂 Love & prayers, Susan T

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