Monday, January 12, 2009

Stewards of the Same 24 Hours

If there is one area where I have been known to obsess about, it's the area of time management. I struggle to have right priorities and to manage my days in a God-pleasing way. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. I wish I was this organized when I was a new mom, but you live and learn.

We are all stewards of the same 24 hours per day. If we are blessed to be at home full time with our children, we need to make the most of that time too.

When I had a houseful of young ones, I think my greatest challenge was that babies and toddlers don't always comply with my schedule and my plans. Part of me muses that maybe this could be God's plan in there, teaching us to slow down and enjoy life's little pleasures through the eyes of a child.

Still work has to get done. Little fairies don't do your housework or mine, though wouldn't it be nice?

Here's my top 4 list of basic time management for moms of young ones:

1. If you look at your life and work as having "all day" to do it, your work will take you all day.

This may seem silly, but I make it a point to not let housework take me past noon. On school days, it is done between 1pm and 4pm (with children helping), and that goes for business related work too (like writing). Actually I write my blogs once a week, and schedule them to go out in increments unless I am particularly inspired in any given day. I don't want to spend all day long working at housework or at writing, but enjoying my family. This only happens when I have clear work boundaries.

2. Life Happens to the best of plans, so you need to be reasonably flexible

Schedules have to be structured enough to give you a regular routine but flexible enough that you can delight in your children (and husband and visitors) when things pop up unexpectedly.

There's two miles of ditch here for every mile of highway on the road to a more organized life...either being so inflexible that we see our children and families as interruptions to what we are doing, or being so excessively flexible that our entire day is spent reacting to what life is throwing at us, instead of deliberately guiding our day, and making things happen.

3. Schedule in some Fun
All of those amazing learning moments, and special times and memory making events don't always happen by accident.

I love that scene in the movie "The Incredibles" where Mr. Incredible is depressed about the turn his life has taken, and a little neighbor child is in the driveway, and he asks the boy, "What are you waiting for?" The boy answers, "I dunno. Something amazing." Mr. Incredible answers, "Me too, kid, me too." I think we sometimes wait around for cool things to happen, or we keep saying, In a few days, as soon as I get this done, when I am finished with __, then we will do ___. You know what I mean? Sometimes you have to just make it happen. Sometimes you have to read through your local community calendar online or in the newspaper, and decide to take the kids to an exhibit, or to go to a fair, or to go to a program at the Library. You have to write it into your planner--in pen!

Sometimes you have to say, "On Thursday, we are going to go to the park." "Tomorrow we are going to do that craft activity at exactly 2 pm." Don't let the fun stuff happen "whenever you find the time", or all of that important, boring stuff that has to be done may always get in the way until your kids are 18. We had a cabin when I was growing up, right up the road from a lake, but many weekends were spent with just one more thing to do and then we'll go to the lake, and thus, many weekends we didn't see the lake at all...and here I am, turning 40 this year, and I still remember that!

Again, two miles of ditch for every mile of highway...don't just schedule the fun stuff and forget the not so fun. Keep it balanced.

4. You will find there's a lot more time in your life if you shut off the Tube.

I have a love-hate relationship with the television. I would rather not have one, not because I don't like it, but because I do. When I sit down to watch something I have a hard time pulling myself away, and thus I'd rather not start at all. It doesn't matter if a certain someone in your family watches the television from the time he gets home from work each night, until bedtime...that doesn't mean you have to have it on all day long too. Children can learn their ABC's without Bert and Ernie on all the time.

We are all stewards of the same 24 hours. I don't get more than you, and you don't get more than me. The substance of each of our lives are those minutes and moments that add together into hours, days, weeks, months, years. This year, my oldest daughter is turning 16. Our time actively parenting here is starting to come to an end, and she is entering into adulthood, and yet it seems like only yesterday we were trying to figure out how to get her to not scream her head off all night long, and how to get her to use the potty. Now she is out having driving lessons with daddy in the church parking lot, and borrowing my size 11 shoes.

Time really does fly. Make the most of yours, because we can never get it back once it's gone.

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