Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Working it all Out

I usually spend the last couple weeks of August looking forward to the fall. Though I love the laissez faire feel of the summer months, my administrative brain thrives on organizing, planning, and list-making. One of my greatest pleasures in life is to feel like I'm accomplishing things - getting stuff done, if you will. Such task completion is unheard of during the long, lazy days of summer; those days are filled with a whole lot of kids, sunshine, and bar-be-que.

You would think, then, that I'd be in my glory right now. I should be able to do all sorts of great things with the spare time afforded me by the fabulous school system! Rather, I find myself running 'round in circles, accomplishing a little bit of this, a touch of that, and a whole lot of nothing.

My husband diagnosed me with a case of "too much on my plate." Which boils down to too much ministry/meeting/socializing and not nearly enough housekeeping/cooking/parenting. The tricky thing in being healed of this syndrome is determining which of the many good things needs to be released. Because it's not like I'm really wasting my time (overall), the things that are consuming me are all decent and worthwhile things.

To be honest, I'm not entirely sure any of the tasks that are keeping me busy need to be relinquished. I suspect my problem could be solved by a dose of serious scheduling. It's a matter of setting aside specific times for certain tasks, rather than randomly jumping from one thing to the next without ever actually completing anything. And, here's the clincher - stopping at the designated end time, even if the task is not complete (because running on all day trying to make a video on Movie Maker will only result in NOT completing such tasks as dinner, children's homework, and effective communication with spouse).

So, in an effort garner a few extra coveted comments, and in the spirit of keeping it real, I'm going to give you a list. I want your honest opinions - is each item a worthwhile way to spend my time? If not, let me know! If you think it is (or could be), any suggestions on how I schedule it in? Your system for doing such tasks...your favourite time of day to do certain activities...things you do daily, or weekly, or however often... I want need your help! (And I'm pretty sure Pat will appreciate it, too, because maybe one of these days I'll start making the bed - if you insist!)

Things I try to do daily:
- morning time with God (sadly, since the summer this has been more like every other day)
- emails, on and off as they come in or when I sit for a break (or if I'm sitting at the computer all darn day) - usually ministry-related
- assorted computer work, typically about an hour but as I said it can be an all-day production at times (note the above-mentioned movie creation) - usually ministry-related
- spend time on the phone (again, some days it's only a call or two, but others it feels like the whole day) - about half ministry-related, half just life
- a load of two of laundry (um, I wash, dry, and fold it, but it typically lives in ginormous piles on my laundry room floor - maybe I should sell our dressers!)
- dishwasher
- cook supper (though it sure hasn't been anything fancy - or healthy - these days)
- write for my blog (okay, I confess, it's more like 3-4 times per week, but I'd like it to be daily)

Things I do weekly:
- clean bathrooms (they get a quick wipe mid-week - have you ever tried Clorox bathroom wipes?!)
- vacuum
- sweep and mop (I probably do this twice per week)
- balance the budget
- read other blogs I enjoy (once or maybe twice during the week)
- attempt to help the kids really clean up their messes (this hasn't happened for nearly a month now)
- attend women's Bible study (Mondays)
- attend life group with Pat (Sundays)
- attend/host ministry meetings for planning/prayer/etc. (on average, there are 3 evening meetings per month)
- attend our women's group (Wednesday AMs)

Things I do monthly:
- parent helper at playschool
- parent helper at kindergarten
- take Braeden to medical appointments

Things I don't do often enough:
- have fun with the kids
- snuggle with my husband
- memorize Scripture

Things I don't do but should (I think):
- make the bed
- meal plan
- schedule chores/housework
- put away laundry
- have a shopping day
- exercise the dog every day
- exercise myself - at all

So, what do you think? With effective planning and time-management, can I fit it all in? Or do you see some things there that jump out to you as "gotta go" items?!


  1. First- pray that God will show you what he wants you to do each day and week and he will give you the energy to accomplish those things.

    Scheduling and planning and organizing go a long way... someone once told me to name each minute. be intentional about your time.

    Have you read that book... disciples of the beautiful woman by Annie Ortwilts (I am not sure if that is her last name....) its an old book. Also... Elizabeth George has a good book and bible study named "Life management for busy women." I know... just what you need. something else to do- reading books!

    But these are good books and basically says that you must must MUST M.U.S.T. put GOD first by spending the first part of your day with him every day.

    And yes... you need exercise each day....

  2. Great post! I love the topic. :)

    These are ALL areas I have been dealing with, and I'm a planner too. Here are my thoughts, opinions, banterish ideas, etc.

    1. Put your Bible Study and exercise time first! It is making a huge difference for me as far as more energy and better attitude to get everything else done.

    I've been getting up @5:30 or 6 to exercise, do Bible Study, and shower before everyone else wakes up. It feels fantastic!

    2. Put your husband second. Find out how important the cleaning and cooking is for him and base your daily vs. weekly stuff on that. If he could care less that your bed is made, then don't make it. If he likes it made, then make it! I had this great agenda of all the things I wanted to keep clean and found out my husband just wants our kids well cared for! Mopping, not so important to me now!

    Set aside one night of the week that you do nothing but hang out with the husband (after the kids are in bed of course).

    3. Put your kids next. This one is easy for me because we homeschool, so I can do this all day. It might mean you spend more time when they are at school doing cleaning, cooking, etc. so that you can play/focus on them after school.

    4. Whatever time you have left, use it for ministry and blogging. Some people would disagree with this. My opinion is that God has given you this family that you are responsible for and that doesn't mean giving them what is left over after doing ministry. However, if you are truly keeping God first and spending time with him every day, your priorities will fall into place naturally. He won't ask you to do more than you can handle!

    Okay, that's all stuff you've heard before. I know it and I need reminded of it from time to time as well.

    I put together a daily schedule for homeschooling and a weekly cleaning schedule/chore chart to get the cleaning stuff under control.

    I do laundry two days a week and do it all day until it is done. I do dishes and sweep every day right after dinner. Mop once a week. Wipe down the bathrooms a couple times a week (I LOVE CLOROX WIPES!) I scrub the showers once a week (or every other sometimes.) I vacuum once or twice a week. I make my bed every day as soon as I am done getting ready for the day. That's what works for me, right now.

    I'm currently working on a schedule for my free time (weekends and nap-time) so I can keep some things in check. I plan to post it when I get it done.

    These are all the things I use my free time for that I'm working on scheduling time for during the week...Blogging, movie-editing (learning how so I can help the husband with his job as a video producer at a church), women's ministry, paying bills, making phone calls, ME time, couponing, grocery shopping, menu planning, school planning, etc. I'll probably be ready to post it early next week, maybe Sunday?

    I can't wait to hear what everyone else does! Personalities are so different, as well as circumstances!

  3. All the things you listed seemed worth-while.. time consuming, but worth while, like you said. :) I don't really have any great ideas for you... you seem like any other regular mom. Trying to keep peace at home while trying to accomplish the myriad of tasks at hand. But here's what I have..
    Maybe if you scheduled your kids with a few chores to do each day... I don't know if your kids are old enough... maybe little things like unloading the dishwasher, clearing the table after dinner, picking up toys before bed, sorting laudnry ( into piles of kitchen towels/ bath towels/ mom and dads laundry / etc ), setting the table... things like that. Would that cut down on your load and give you a few extra mintues? At first, I realize it could cost you more minutes, but once they realize they HAVE to do the jobs and you mean business and it becomes routine, would that work out? At my house, we usually have one grocery shopping day and have maybe two things a day of cleaning that get done throughout the week so that its not one HUGE day of cleaning. Like bathrooms get done on Tuesday, floors mopped on Wed.,dusting on Friday, etc. Maybe the older kids could learn to put away their own laundry so that those ginormous piles are at least medium-sized. :)
    I realize you have a baby, and that tires you, but do you get up early-ish to get things accomplished?
    Those things all seem kinda simple to me and I'm sure you've thought of them. What works for one family doesnt always work for another family though.
    Although all those ministry things are great and bring glory to the Lord, do you still feel the Lord leading you to serve there, or are you just doing because you've simply always done it? I hope that's not offensive to you... cause I know I can do that at times... I just keep serving somewhere even though I feel the Lord moving me somehwere else but I don't want to hurt feelings by moving on. Ya know what I mean?
    I will be praying for you. That although things don't always get COMPLETED like you would wish, that you remember WHY you are doing the things you do... for the GLORY OF GOD. You have a beautiful heart in all the ways you seek to serve and encourage the ladies at your church and being a blessing to your family at home. I will pray that you will be able to keep perspective and live the daily grind of a mothers life with meaning - cheefully from the heart... for you are not only serving your children and husband... but the LORD as well!

  4. Great Post Tyler!

    I first have time with God...
    Some with scripture, prayer...sometimes with praise music also playing in the background...Yesterday I have the MOST amazing time with GOD...
    The I sit with a nice warm cup of coffee and make my list that I post on the kitchen cupboard..
    The children chores, house chores, appointments, cleaning, meals, medication to be dispersed are all on their in order of importance...and further on my list I put things I "want" to accomplish within the day or week...this way if time allows...I can get one of those done...if time does not allow...I always see it and know I could may be delegate some of it ...I have found that making supper in the morning works best for me...By the end of the day I am "fried" but no worries supper is made...routine is also super important with my kiddies...we eat between 5 and 5:15 sharp...if daddy is not here..he gets a plate warmed up(very rare he misses on family meals) but this way it keeps the boys meltdowns to a minimum...
    Paper work...things of that nature...I do them after the boys are in bed...that way I can actually do it...appointments tend to be all on for the same week...that way these also can be all over it instead of dragging it on ...with 4 kids that can make for lots of appointments at times...
    As for grocery shopping..oh we have done poorly with this...this summer turned into a free for all...we are going back to planning what we need....stocking up on sale items...and shopping only once a week...that way this cuts down the running around and the cost of gas...
    Now I am not super busy like you by any means...and juggling is a balancing act for me every day...this year we are adding kinder music to our list...way more time with the girls and events for the girls...and schedule in free time for me to attend things and have "renewed" time...should be fun...and oh...most least 3 of them...hubby and I sit down...have a good heart to heart all while he gives me a foot that is!
    Do I have it I start new every day with a new list in hand...I even started carrying one in the car...saves my driving all over the place...
    Good luck prioritizing...

  5. crockpot recipes linky each Thirsday at

  6. i'd have to agree w/ she who said have your prayer,excercise time 1st thing in the a.m. or maybe right after you get the other kids o/ the door.

    the other thing i was thinking as i read this was to have your kids do some of those tasks. my 7yo empties my dishwasher and wipes down the bathroom everyday. (luv those wipies!!) 9 yo vacuums and empties trash, 5 yo takes dirty laundry to laundry room. teaches them responsibilty and house hold tasks and that mom doesn't have to be responsible for every little thing.
    i also agree w/ the one who said find o/ what's important to your dh.
    the only thing i can see that maybe you might want to ? the importance of you being at that might take away from your family time is the ministry meeting/planning. only you know if that's vital that you're there or not.

    btw-thought you might want to know that dh and i are doing really well keeping up w/ our devotions:)

  7. This is the first time to your blog. Just thought I would join in with your topic.

    I find that there is not enough hours in the day! I actually need to spend more time with my awana lesson planning and God. But for some reason I don't find myself spending as much time with those as I plan to each day. I working on that though.

    I also just started makeing my dinner meals in the morning, as someone else had said. I find it way easier that doing it after a long day with the kids. Also when I make ovenbaked dishes or soups/chili I always make two meals of them (I always have some of those cheap tin pans on hand and thats what the extra one goes in), and put the other one in the freezer for later. Sometimes things come up and then you don't have to worry about making dinner. Or if you need to take a dinner to a family from church.

    We also do one big day at the grocery store every two weeks. Its usually the day after I plan the upcoming menu. We get everything thing we need for the meals then. For weekly staples my husband gets those on Monday of the 2nd week on his way home from work.

    I also only chop vegies for meals once a week. Same as with chicken or pork. those get cut up and packaged on grocery day so your not waisting time doing it later.

    As for cleaning. I love clorox wipes and the clorox anywhere spray! I keep the wipes in all the bathrooms and the kitchen. And every night or morning (depending on if it got done the night before) I wipe down all surfaces in the bathroom (counter, sink, top of bath, and then toilet)one can do all of them and it takes maybe 3 minutes to do it all. Kitchen counters i do after every meal. And the anywhere spary is for the toys and door handles, phone and counter (if i'm feeling lazy) its a major staple in our house durning the flu season! I sweep once a day, but i also bought some of those small handle brushs with a dust pan and my 3 year old twins love to sweep up their mess after meals. Mopping is twice a week after everyone is either in bed for the night or at naptime. Deep vaccuuming happens 3x a week. we also have a hand vac that the kids also love to use for noticable spots.

    laundry use to be a battle for me. but i read somewhere how to make it easier. so i will share it with you. you might allredy do this, if so sorry. In the laundry room we have two 3 section sorted organizers. the kids each have their own color and put their cloths in there every night. we also have one for towels my and my husbands clothes.(you can adjust it for your own kids girls/boys/school/play) I always throw in a load of towels at night or blankets/sheets and change them first thing in the morning. and then put in one more to change at naptime.

    as for the other things on your list. here is what i try to do. i do the excersie and quiet time befoer everyone gets up and maybe a few emails if i didn't get to them all the night before.. my day starts at 5:30 am. phone calls and bill paying happens during nap time and maybe some blog searching if i don't have anything else to do. blogging and emails happen after the kids are in bed. and then my day ends at 10:30 always.

    good luck with finding a system that works for you. the first couple of weeks of my new one kicked my butt. now though i love it and am finding more extra time on my hands now as i get faster at everything.


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