Housekeeping · Time Management

Finding Time . . . to Get It All Done

Homeschooling, laundry, grocery shopping, balancing the checkbook, getting three meals a day on the table, keeping the house reasonably clean and tidy. . . . the list could go on and on; how’s a body to get it all done?  Well, in the first place, “getting it all done” is a misnomer — it’s never all done, is it?!

Remember the old saying, “A man may work from sun to sun, but a woman’s work is never done?”  Now, I know the sun to sun part doesn’t apply anymore in this day and age, and men work around the clock just as much as women, etc., etc., but the gist of this is that a woman’s job, when that woman is a mother and her job is managing a household, extends beyond a set amount of hours; there’s never a time to call it a day and go home.  (Actually, this is true for both parents.  Dad may call it a day and go home, but home to what?  Peace and quiet on the La-Z-boy?  I don’t think so!)

When I was a new mom, this feeling of never getting it all done was often overwhelming.  I no longer could see a task through to the end without interruption.  Interruptions like cleaning up spills and changing diapers and wiping runny noses and filling sippy cups and settling sibling squabbles and  holding a crying infant who wouldn’t sleep unless she was swaddled and swayed and bounced — in my arms — all day long.

As time went on, I gradually started realizing that my perspective was in need of a makeover.  Maybe I shouldn’t view these constant interruptions as hindrances to getting my work done.  Maybe they were my work.  Of course — that was it.  God gave me these precious little ones to love and care for, so who was I to think that my so-called “work” was more important?

Now, to be honest, that realization wasn’t one that solved all my problems right then and there, with never a wrong expectation about my work again.  Even after thirteen years of parenting, I still have the same tendency — to begrudge the interruptions.  I still need grace everyday to remember where my priorities lie.

All that being said (and being very true), there actually is real work that goes along with being a mom and managing a household, and it really must be done, at least to some extent.  Part of loving and caring for a family is making home a comfortable and inviting place to be.  Clean clothes that are folded and put away where they can readily be found, comfy couches to relax on that are free of clutter and piles, good and nutritious meals placed on the table in timely fashion. . . these speak love to a husband and kids.

So how’s a mother to find time to get it all done?  I’ve found that it helps to view my day in chunks.  Instead of feeling like all the work needs to be done all the time, I find it extremely helpful to allot blocks of time for specific tasks.  For me it goes something like this:

Early morning  —  blog

Breakfast and dishes

Morning — school

Lunch and dishes

Right after lunch — nap time for 3yo, quiet time

Afternoon — housework and/or errands

Right before supper — tidy up the house

Supper and dishes (always dishes!)

Evening — relax (or fold laundry!)

This kind of schedule is a very general one.  Things like school and housework, etc. are broken down further into more detailed schedules and lists, but having an overarching, bird’s eye view of my day helps me greatly.  If I lose sight of this kind of general plan, then everything becomes a jumble and my mind feels frazzled and chaos characterizes our day more than peace and order.

But how does one fit the myriad of tasks a mother juggles into a neat and tidy little schedule?  How do you make sure the whole house gets cleaned…..eventually?  What about the cobwebs in the corner and the dust bunnies under the bed?  I don’t know if I’m the only one, but things like this can stress me out if  I don’t find a slot to squeeze them into.  (Actually, they stress me out less than they used to — I might be getting old and tired.  But I have my days!)

Well, I have a wonderful little tool called a to do list that I didn’t create, but that some other thoughtful and clever moms created who knew just what kind of things mothers everywhere need to get done.  It comes from the website Motivated Moms, and is available in e-book form for printing out and hanging on your fridge or putting in your day book.  It’s also newly available as an app for your phone or iPad.

It breaks down all the tasks you could ever think of doing (seriously!) into daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or yearly chores.  Some of the tasks don’t always apply to my household and some of them I’ve already delegated to the kids.  I also put some of the weekday chores off until Saturdays (which the schedule usually leaves open) if I’ve had a busy week.  Most weeks not everything gets done, and that’s o.k. too.

When I remember to make a list like this my servant and not my master, it really helps me focus and be more efficient.  I do need to remind myself often, however, that it really never all gets done, and that my primary calling is to love my husband and children.  God will give me grace to fulfill all that he wants me to do!  Let me rest in that truth always!

Related Posts:

Our Homeschool Schedule

Finding Time to Be Alone

Still to come:  Finding Time to Manage a Household, specifically — kids and chores.

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12 thoughts on “Finding Time . . . to Get It All Done

  1. I just came across your blog, and I’m so thankful I did! I’ve been struggling with this so much the last view days, to the point of tears almost every night. I’m thankful for “grace upon grace” and for words from women who have been there! I’m actually typing this with one hand while I hold my sleeping, swaddled 3 month old who only wants to sleep on me today. 😉 Thank you for writing!

    1. Oh boy! When I read your comment, I was immediately transported back to the days when I felt just like you are feeling now! I remember the frustration, the tears, and the desperation of those early weeks/months. There is a certain helplessness that weighs down on you when baby needs Mama all the time, isn’t there? So glad my writing could be of encouragement to you.

  2. I was like you, long ago. We had a schedule for regular days and another for ParkDay/FieldTrips. I also kept a todo list that was prioritized and worked from the top down, with undone things shifted to the next day, or into oblivion, as appropriate. My children helped without much fuss. (One day, after I’d said to make their beds, one asked me “but what about yours, Mom,” and I said, “Nah. You don’t have to make mine.” 😉 )
    They all grew up knowing how to work. So important in this day.
    And now, with them gone, I have to do it ALL. whew.

    1. I like the part about things being shifted down…or into oblivion. =) I’m very thankful for the kids helping out here, too. I’m planning a post about that very topic next week which will finish off this little series on Time Management.

  3. I think you put your finger right on it! Spending time with the children God has given vs. providing an inviting home environment is the dichotomy I struggle with! My schedule is actually quite similar to yours, except I should get up earlier 😉 I also try to “quit” after the kids go to bed several nights a week or choose things to catch up on that I enjoy, like blogging, scrapbooking, or sewing. Some people go 16 hours a day, but it doesn’t work for me. Adding in “happy mama” to the mix is important at my house too! Here’s to God’s Grace 🙂

    1. I’m so glad to hear from moms like you who are with me in this! About getting up earlier and adding a happy mama to the mix…I’ve never been a morning person, and I’m still not really. Promising myself time to blog when I get up before breakfast has been very motivating to me, however! The problem is, I also enjoy the peace and quiet after the kids go to bed, and so I tend to stretch out those hours longer than I should. Thanks for the reminder that a happy (rested) mommy is an important part of life with a husband and kids.

  4. I think you are amazing! I’m so impressed with all that you do and I love that you blog about it!!! I remember feeling like I had two full time jobs when I was homeschooling. Back then there was no such thing as blogging, so I’m really impressed that you fit this in, too. I also remember having “5 minute pick-ups”. That’s what I would call them, when we all stopped everything we were doing and ran around and tidied everything up in 5 minutes. It really worked and it really helped, especially when I would always feel out of sorts when my house wasn’t in some kind of order.

    I remember days where I would feel overwhelmed, but my husband was so wonderful in helping me re-evaluate everything I was doing, and helping me determine what I could cut out…all those things that weren’t necessary. I think we can get bogged down with things that we don’t need to do, but somewhere in our minds expect ourselves to do.

    9 graduations behind me…I’m so glad I gave it all I had. It is so worth it. And sometimes I wish I could do it all over again knowing what I know now, and what fun it would have been to have a blogging friend like you. 🙂

    1. Thanks for your encouraging words. (But I’m not amazing — really!) I know God gives grace for the moment. I never thought I’d homeschool for the reason of it being just too much work, and I never thought I’d blog either. “Never say never,” they say!

      Your idea of a five minute pick up would be a good motivator on those days when the before supper clean up becomes a drudgery. And your words, “I’m so glad I gave it all I had,” spur me on, because that is exactly what I want to do.

      I’m glad to have someone like you who is a mom with such experience following along with me on this blogging journey. =) Thanks again for all the encouragement.

  5. It is really such a hard lesson to learn… “Maybe I shouldn’t view these constant interruptions as hindrances to getting my work done. Maybe they were my work. Of course — that was it. God gave me these precious little ones to love and care for, so who was I to think that my so-called ”work” was more important?” I am still working on that one! I wrote a post about trying to learn this lesson at the beginning of the school year…

    “ ‘Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.’ Proverbs 19:21… but it’s the little {many} God-given interruptions that are so much more important than that schedule. It is hard for me, but I am learning to attend and minister to those interruptions. For it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”

    BUT I STILL have trouble with it… because like you said “Part of loving and caring for a family is making home a comfortable and inviting place to be. Clean clothes that are folded and put away where they can readily be found, comfy couches to relax on that are free of clutter and piles, good and nutritious meals placed on the table in timely fashion. . . these speak love to a husband and kids.” It’s hard to find balance. I will check out the link you included! 🙂

    1. It is hard to find balance. I still have trouble with it too. It’s definitely something that requires wisdom, and thankfully God loves to give wisdom when we ask! The to do list for me just makes all those tasks ‘quiet down’ in my head. 😉

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