I posted this series in December of 2007 and, for the most part, I’m still practicing my own advice. What a novel concept! I get TONS of requests for info on how I do everything, so I’m sharing with you a few time management tips for balancing family, marriage, life, job, friends, house, etc. This is how I keep my sanity! I’ll be sharing advice from my friends and a few things I’ve done that have worked.
I realize that life doesn’t start after “this deadline” or “this book release” or “when I sell X number of books.” Life is happening today. So I can either live in a mess, setting myself up for failure, or live successfully. I choose the latter!
I’m striving to live a sustainable life; I don’t want to burn myself out.
I’ve given myself permission to set a schedule that works for me. I use Microsoft Outlook, and I schedule in everything. From waking up and having morning quiet time, to straightening the house, to making dinner, to working on a book proposal—it’s all on the calendar. This works for me because it helps me to be realistic with my daily goals, and I love to check things off a list. When I have a day packed with other things, I can’t write 2,000 words, and I don’t stress myself out thinking I should.
Now for actual “stuff”. I’ll start with what I think is most important and work through the list from there. Like many I balance writing and mothering, and I homeschool, too.
This is what I do:
1. I prioritize time with God.
Quiet time to read the Bible and pray, devotions with husband, church on Sundays and Wednesdays and small group at our house—all of it goes on the schedule. The spiritual foundation comes first.
2. I hire someone to deep-clean my house once a week.
My kids have all their own chores. I’ve done this with all of my children since they were small. We rotate so no one is always stuck with the same chore. One kid has kitchen duty, another gathers and puts away laundry or sets and clears the table, another sweeps and mops the floors and does occasional chores for me, etc. I spend about an hour a day “keeping everything up.”
3. I set a realistic homeschool schedule.
I don’t force my kids to wake up early in the morning; they get the sleep they need, and we get going when everyone is rested and ready to start the day. Every week they go to a homeschool co-op with a semi-structured environment. At home, most of our learning comes from reading, hands-on activities, or excursions, such as the library or museum, supplemented by curriculum. I don’t try to mimic a public school schedule; they’re not sitting at the table eight hours a day. By avoiding a strict, over-packed homeschool schedule, my kids are able to learn and thrive without overwhelming pressure and meltdowns.
4. I have one day a week for errands.
This is also the day for SLS—or as a friend of mine says, “Stupid Little Stuff.” This day is also used for things like coffee with a friend or even just some “me time”. I plan that stuff on this day since I’m already out.
5. I multi-task.
I read galleys or research books as I exercise on my recumbent bike. I read magazines while I blow dry my hair. I take my notebook computer into the kitchen and answer emails as I wait for the water to boil or the chicken to bake. Audiobooks are a huge helper in this area—I often listen while I’m folding laundry or watering the garden.
6. I take my kids out to lunch once a month for one-on-one time.
I don’t talk on the cell-phone or listen to the radio when I’m driving them around—instead I use that time to connect. We hang out all together nearly every night. We watch TV together, go over homework, or talk. These lunches are times to connect with my kids individually, giving me a treasured opportunity to get to know the people they are growing into. I am adamant about scheduling these times over lunch, not dinner, as I rarely schedule evening events beyond Wednesday church and Monday small group.
7. I prioritize time for my marriage.
My husband and I go on a scheduled date once a week. It is so important in a marriage, amidst the chaos of a busy life, to carve out that time to connect and keep our marriage strong. We also read our Bible and pray together every morning, something we have been intentional about since we got married.
8. I have lunch with friends about once a week.
I love my kids, I really do, but sometimes we have to get out of the “mommy” role and remember that we’re people with social needs, too. I’ve been doing this for a while now, and it has been a life-saver. Healthy relationships with friends helps keep my bucket full, which, in turn, benefits my whole family.
Begin with small steps. Even just one of these changes implemented in your life will make a noticeable difference. God desires a life for us filled with peace and joy, not stress and exhaustion. A balanced schedule can help us find that peace and joy in our everyday lives, allowing us to draw closer to Him and to those around us.
More Resources on Time Management:
Hope and Refreshment for Homeschooling Parents
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