One of the things my husband has been challenging me on (read: calling me on the carpet about) lately is the concept of not being so scattered in my daily life. He has noticed the way I dash about from one task to the next, often leaving one thing undone as I get sidetracked with another. This practice leaves me spinning my wheels, constantly running and always frustrated. He has been asking me some pretty directed questions about my priorities and the amount of time I spend doing "work stuff" (writing, blogging, speaking business stuff) as opposed to the amount of time I spend focused on my kids. He is a good accountability partner in my life, even if I don't always like what he says!
Reading this post helped me a lot with this whole concept. It was a lightbulb moment for me as I realized that I need to get back to a more scheduled day with more focused timeframes-- a time for cooking, a time for cleaning, a time for schooling, a time for errands, a time for the computer. And so, I began to work through what this all would mean. I also own Holly Pierlot's book A Mother's Rule Of Life that she mentioned, and recommend it highly. While it is definitely a Catholic book (and I am not Catholic), there is still much to glean from her advice. I found the book at a time in my life when I was at the end of my rope, and the book ministered to me from the first paragraph-- so that's saying a lot! Since then, it stays in a place where I can get to it at any point as a refresher/reminder. But what this blog post pointed out had never jumped out at me before, especially not the way she words it:
My goal when sitting down to create routines and schedules was always to "get things done," so I'd aim to squeeze in as much as possible. I would drastically underestimate how much time was needed for each task in an attempt to fit more in (I realize now that nothing takes "just five minutes" around here). When my goal changed to "bring peace to my household," it became glaringly obvious that obtaining peace was going to involve sacrificing a huge chunk of my to-do list; that I would have to give up not only on the idea of being able to do it all, but the idea that I can do much of anything other than just keep diapers changed and kids fed and the toys and dirty dishes put away and have some quality time with the kids and free time for myself.
A friend and I just discussed this when we had lunch together this weekend. She said that one thing she has found is that she makes commitments and vastly underestimates how much time those commitments will take. Then as those commitments start hitting, she gets stressed and starts micromanaging her family in an effort to maintain some sort of control as her life spins out of control. This ups the stress level in her whole family-- which causes strife for all of them. She commented that she is learning to keep track of how much time things take-- to the point of keeping a log and writing it all down. Then when she is asked to do something she can commit with a more realistic view of what that "yes" is going to involve. I thought this was very smart and will most likely begin doing this myself. Most of all, I am looking forward to a winter season of S-L-O-W living. I am turning in my book, Lord willing, this week and plan to not take any big writing projects for awhile. That's my plan, at least.
I loved the idea of weighing our commitments against our goal: a peaceful home versus getting "just one more thing" done. I knew this would be key in setting my new schedule. And so, with that in mind, I have spent the last several days working through a schedule and goals that reflect my focus. This means there will be focused time for devotions (and nothing else), focused time for school (and nothing else), focused time for housework (and nothing else), etc. That means when I am doing that thing I am not answering emails, surfing blogs, making phone calls, etc. I hope to stick to this focused schedule in the new year, and not forget about it and get sidetracked as I am prone to do.
Being "all there" wherever I am is a good goal to have for this new year. It will be a new thing and a welcome change.
*If you left me a question in the comments section, please read the comments as I will be answering any questions there instead of here. This will be my new policy on this blog. Thanks!*