The Rebellion of Opting Out

Tonya Kubo

Modern family life can feel a lot like a hamster wheel — a constant race you’re never winning. We overschedule our kids and ourselves, wedging some must-do activity into every waking moment of the day, until we’re short on time, short on sleep and short-tempered.

What if it didn’t have to be like this? What if there was another way?

This was the question I asked myself not long ago. I was working full time, going to school full time, serving in ministry, volunteering at my daughter’s school and trying to keep my house and my husband from neglect.

It felt impossible. School wouldn’t get easier if I put it off, work wasn’t going away, and my ministry and volunteer service felt like things I needed to do. The house and husband? I’m embarrassed to say both fell low on the priority list. As I struggled to stay on top of these competing priorities, I felt a distance in myself. Conversations with my husband were shallow – just another box to check before moving on to the next thing. The house began to feel less like home and more like a way station for brief stops to eat and sleep before heading out again.

I tried talking to friends about it. They were in the same boat, and they all said the same thing: This is how it is. The kids HAVE to be in sports, scouts, youth group, etc. Parents HAVE to work, drive carpool, make unicorn everything and create Disneyland-like experiences for the kids on weekends. Constant motion was an accepted norm.

Not for me. I was stretched to the point of breaking. I wanted off the hamster wheel, even if I had to break free myself.

Enough Is Enough

The problem, I realized, was the life I was living didn’t match my values. I value investing in my marriage. I value knowing my children as individuals and as part of our family. I value my faith community. I value bringing my best to all that I do. The pace with which we were living prevented me from being my best at anything. And even though I was physically showing up to church and with my family, my head was always somewhere else.

Something had to change, and fast.

Out of that desperation, the Family Blueprint was born. Unlike family rules, which are rigid and carry consequences, the Family Blueprint is a list of guiding principles that governs our family’s lifestyle.

Gone are the days when we let the pace of other people’s lives drive the pace of ours. Any time we’re faced with a choice, we consult our blueprint for perspective on whether to say yes or no. Created by the family for the family, I don’t have to sell anyone on following our blueprint because it reflects everyone’s shared priorities.

Our top guiding principle is “We are Team Kubo.” This means if it’s not for one of us, it’s for none of us. If an afterschool activity is problematic for me, we don’t sign up for it, even if my husband can make it work. Why? Because if we were to say yes to the activity knowing it didn’t work for me, the burden of making it work week in and week out would fall entirely to my husband. That’s not how teams operate.

Opting out from the status quo of overburdening our family schedule has been rebellious. We’ve become known as much for what we don’t do as for what we do, and it’s been a positive experience for everyone. Our marriage is stronger because our blueprint is designed to protect our investment in each other. Our family dynamic is healthier because our blueprint helps us work with each other instead of against each other.

Your Challenge

Are you done with the exhaustion of being constantly in motion? Would you like to break free from the hamster wheel? The Family Blueprint Guide is a road map that shows you how to align your family’s lifestyle with your values. Download your free copy at


Tonya Kubo helps moms who just want more to feel good about the choices they make, knowing they are doing the right thing at the right time at home and out in the world. A speaker and writer, Tonya makes her home in the heart of California with her husband, Brian, their two spirited daughters and one very tolerant cat. Visit her at