I struggle with a schedule and getting everything done and still spend
time with my little ones, get enough sleep, etc. It seems like
wherever I spend my time, I feel guilty for neglecting the other
things. Any tips?
Perhaps you are like me, and are just a bit, um, overly ambitious (don’t you love euphemisms?). Honestly, sometimes my expectations of myself and what I can honestly accomplish and balance in a day are just not realistic. I vacillate between the two extremes of wanting to set high goals and make the very most of my time, and wanting to just slow down, focus on what’s important and enjoy these years with my little ones. Can anyone relate?
One of the biggest challenges for me has been to determine what are my priorities, and to establish a realistic schedule that reflects those priorities. We have only so many hours in our day, and so many conflicting ideas of what we ought to be doing. My husband often quotes the saying that "the good is the enemy of the best". There are so many good things that we could be spending our time on, but it’s crucial to really examine our lives and find out what are the very best things for us to be pouring our time and energy into.
One resource that has particularly helped me with this is this book:
Shopping for Time: How to Do It All and NOT Be Overwhelmed– For me, this was extrememly helpful for teaching me to set goals,
establish my priorities, and really evaluate my season of life, my
relationships, my responsibilities, and what is most important. It
encouraged me to take a personal retreat in the fall, to spend a day
journaling, praying and seeking God’s direction in balancing my time
and my roles, creating a schedule, making sure that I am putting the most time and effort towards those things that I have deemed to be the "best deals of the season".
"Every woman worth her weight in coupons knows that smart shopping requires sitting down and planning first. How much more vital, then, is a strategic plan for the changing seasons of our lives? if we simply allow each new season to come along without charting a course, we could easily be sidetracked by urgent yet unimportant activities. We could wear ourselves out repeating the same mistakes and dealing with the same problems over and over. And we could potentially miss the truly significant opportunities each season has to offer."
During my fall retreat, I realized that my daughter was needing some extra love and attention after a difficult spring and summer (for those who don’t know, my husband was in cancer treatments much of this past year, although he is now in remission). At that time, I realized that my most important job for that season was to stay close to home, to spend time with my daughter, to give her stability and routine in her day once again, and to take some time for recuperation and refreshing myself.
Now that we have had that time in the fall, we are moving into a new season where the baby is sleeping better, life has mostly returned to "normal" (whatever that is), we all have more energy again, and so we are beginning to follow a stricter, more ambitious schedule and pursue some other projects that require more time and attention. I am also getting more serious about home educating our daughter, as she is seeming to need a greater challenge and it is important for me to begin to learn how to incorporate her learning times into our day.
I had more that I wanted to share, but perhaps this is enough to think about for now:
- What are the pressing needs of the season that you are in- pregnancy or a new baby, sickness or injury or taking some time to really get healthy, training for older children, supporting your husband in a new job or business endeavor, etc.?
- What are the day to day responsibilities that actually need to be accomplished (not just what you would ideally like to do, but what is truly necessary)?
- Are there specific relationships that you feel the Lord has put on your heart to focus on (a particular child, extended family, unsaved friends, serving a neighbor or church member going through a difficult time?)
Shopping for Time has a wonderful chapter designed to help you write out and consider your priorities, and helps you to assess each area and bring it all together at the end, into some manageable goals. I highly recommend this book as a great starting place.
Soon I will discuss the practicalities of scheduling, daily routines, using planners and calendars, and more. Also, I would recommend visiting Biblical Womanhood, as I know that Crystal is tackling some time management issues in her blog right now.