I recently did a survey among the moms that get my newsletters and updates and they told me their number one struggle right now is “improving my time management and running my home more smoothly.” This was chosen over finding time for self-care, the need to create routines and ending the morning madness and getting my kids to listen the first time. I was a little shocked. I would have thought the trouble with kids listening would have come out on top, but it didn’t.
Lately I have been struggling with my own discovery of how my priorities are shaping my family’s day to day life. This is an area I have been sharing with my readers and also groups I speak with – how even small choices we make as Homemakers can impact so many areas. If you aren’t clear on your priorities as a wife, mother and individual it is likely that you will become frustrated, overwhelmed and feel like your daily schedule/life is controlling you rather than vice versa. Unless you set and resolve to live by your own priorities and not someone else’s expectations, you’ll end up wearing yourself out.
Time management is a term we here most often, but actually I came across an article talking about time management really being about self-management. I thought this was brilliant! We are ultimately in control of we allow into our lives and how we will prioritize
Prioritize means “to put in order of importance”. And as a busy mom you must continually do this over and over again, making choices based on the priorities you have built. I had this experience the past few months, being overwhelmed and feeling like there was just not enough of me to go around.
I evaluated where I was, where I wanted to be, how I wanted to be spending my time and took some time to choose differently with my time. I would like to share with you what helped me in this process:
Do you know what your priorities are?
Are you living your daily life with those in mind?
If you aren’t clear on your priorities I believe you will continually run into trouble trying to balance everything.
1. First, decide what those priorities are and make a list
My list was easy: God, my husband, my home, my children, my private life, public life.
I make decisions based on how the opportunity/task may affect each of these areas.
God comes first for me; ultimately I need to know my choices are reflecting that priority for me.
My husband, he is my second priority. I am committed to loving my husband in practical ways, spending time with him, encouraging him, and being his support person. Notice he is far above my children, time together for us without kids is a necessity not a luxury.
My Home is next. This one throws some people and it took me awhile to understand this and feel comfortable with this, but what were you given first to care for? A home or children? Don’t make the common mistake of always putting activities with your children above caring for your home. Work for proper balance. You are responsible for creating an environment for your family to thrive in. If your home is chaotic, a mess and unmanageable your family will suffer.
My Children are fourth. Understanding where my children are in the priority order makes it easier for me to make decisions. I can look at the big picture and see what else may be impacted negatively and where that falls into my list.
My private life is fifth. Making sure I am taking time for myself, caring for my own needs for rest, exercise and spiritual renewal.
My Public life. All of my activities outside the home, from volunteering, work to friendships, these all are included here. This is where most women have trouble learning to say “no”. But it is extremely important that you can learn to say no, or the other more important areas will suffer. Don’t let yourself become fooled by what society is telling you that you need to be, know what your priorities are and where your strength comes from.
After you have made your own list of priorities then you can take some time to look at how you are spending your time now.
2. Record – Record all your activities during a normal day. Be sure to write down everything, idle time, talking on the phone, watching TV, computer time, sleeping. Then categorize each activity according to where they fit into your priorities. You will soon see where you are spending your time and if it matches what it should.
3. List – What on your list needs to be eliminated? Subtract from your list before adding to it. Learn to say NO.
4. Ask Yourself –
- What needs to be added to or subtracted from my activities for me to know I am living my life by my priorities?
- What’s really most important to you? (Is it more important to take a walk with a neighbor 3 times a week, or sign your child up for a second sports activity)
- What unhealthy habits need to be corrected in the way I think, act, and respond and even use my time?
- How am I choosing to spend the time that I have. How is that reflecting my priorities?
- Consider your boundaries around your time.
- Have I included daily time for myself to re-energize myself, however that looks for you?
- Think about how your choices will affect other members of your family.
Self-management instead of time management; an interesting way of looking at the same thing. I much prefer to see it as self-management, because ultimately I am in control most of the time as to how I choose to spend my time and how well I choose to do that. When I am overwhelmed because I have decided to take on one too many tasks then my whole family suffers. I am in a never ending learning process – evaluating where to take things off and what I truly need to add to my days and how it all fits with my priorities. I have seen the positive change even in the short time that I have been focusing more on how daily decisions I make affect my family. I am feeling better and more balanced. After all, when mom is doing well, the whole family thrives!