How to Spend Your Time Wisely

Some days my house is spotless, but I’ve barely had a spare minute to do anything else. Other days are packed with fun, but our home looks like a bomb went off. Our family goes through seasons of busyness and periods of calm, and our days rarely feel perfectly balanced. Going through life as a family will always bring extra responsibilities and expectations into the mix. My mindset during this time: embrace the chaos, but don’t invite it in.

Spend your time wisely by making decisions that reflect your priorities.

Life moves in seasons

From the time babies are born, they constantly move from one phase to the next. Just as you feel that you’ve figured out one new behavior, they continue on to the next. A few days after we brought our first baby home, one of our good friends left us a hilariously encouraging message saying, “So right about now, your biggest question is: where the heck is the manual for this thing?” It was 100% true. Even at 6 and 9, my kids still go through periods that have us wondering how best to parent them. I have no doubt that some of the trickiest phases are still ahead of us in the teenage years.

The good news is that these phases are typically short-lived. A busy time in our family pulls us in many directions, but is often followed by a period of rest. Just as the harvest is often the busiest time for a farmer, afterward he is able to enjoy the result of his hard work. This is never more true for me than during the Christmas season. I put in a lot of extra time shopping, planning, wrapping presents, and decorating our house so that we can enjoy the celebration together. By doing the work ahead of time, I’m able to relish the joy of Christmas with my family.

Make your “yes” meaningful

Ecclesiastes 3:9-10, 12-13 says, “What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with…I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil – this is God’s gift to man.”

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always “take pleasure in all my toil.” I’m thankful that we have food on the table, but I’m not exactly thrilled by another trip to the grocery store. These verses remind us that God did not intend for us to sit around all day. After God created the first man and woman, He gave them responsibilities. Our time on Earth is meant to be productive. In order to be joyful about my work, I have to be careful about how I manage my time.

In The Best Yes, Lysa Terkeurst writes, “The decisions we make dictate the schedules we keep. The schedules we keep determine the lives we live. The lives we live determine how we spend our souls. So this isn’t just about finding time. This is about honoring God with the time we have.” (p.23) If we’re constantly running on empty, we’re not honoring anyone with our time, no matter how many commitments or jobs we can check off our list. Being busy may be culturally appropriate, but it doesn’t allow our souls to thrive.

Obviously there are times when we can’t help but be busy. Sometimes my kids have back to back school performances or events scheduled at the same time. I’m not talking about that type of accidental overcommitment. I’m talking about when we stretch ourselves too thin by saying yes when we should be saying no. By turning down commitments that we know will drain our time and energy, even though they might be fun, helpful, or worthwhile tasks, we are saying yes to our own well-being and that of our families. In this way, we’re not inviting chaos into our lives without purpose.

Making purposeful decisions about your time helps find balance and allows you to use your time well.

Making purposeful decisions about your time

How can we acknowledge the reality that family life can be busy without surrendering control of our time? By making purposeful decisions about how we use our time. Instead of committing to projects on a whim, we have to think honestly about what it entails. Here are three things to remember before you take on another commitment for yourself or your family.

Don’t underestimate the requirements. How much time will you need to devote to this task, event or activity? I often over-simplify tasks in my head and end up overwhelmed when a project requires more time than I planned. It’s hard to say no to something you genuinely want to do, but if it demands more time or energy than you have to give, it will quickly become a burden rather than a blessing.

Manage your expectations & those of your family. This goes hand in hand with the previous point. There’s a conference I want to attend in a few months, but it falls on the same weekend as a father-son camping trip. Before I make my decision, I need to discuss the timing with my husband, and also plan childcare for our daughter. To make a decision without considering the impact on my family would be disrespectful and potentially problematic.

Count the cost. My daughter takes a dance class once a week. She enjoys the class and rarely has to pass up other activities because the time commitment is minimal. We’re not going to sign her up for a highly competitive dance program requiring several practices a week because she doesn’t have the necessary passion for dance. If an activity or project is going to stretch the demands on your time, you need to make sure it’s worth it.

As a mom, I often feel like I need to be all things to all people. The truth is it’s just not possible. If we want to be able to enjoy the harvest, we can’t be responsible for sowing the seeds everywhere at all times. At some point, something’s gotta give. We have to make decisions that allow the best use of our time for ourselves, our families and for what God is calling us to do.

 

{Linking up to A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Thoughtful Thursdays, Salt & Light}

Share with a friend:

Making Memories – It’s the Thought that Counts

With summer coming on like a freight train, I’m already in planning mode. Summer offers the opportunity to slow down and maybe inject something special into our normal routine. I want my kids to look back on fond memories of their childhood, but sometimes I put too much pressure on myself to provide meaningful experiences.

Don't let your own expectations get in the way of making authentic memories with your family.

When I was 9 or 10, my best friend and I went to see Tiffany in concert with our dads. If you don’t remember Tiffany, just imagine Miley Cyrus before she got weird, add some big hair and acid-washed denim, and you’ve got the idea. To be honest, I don’t remember much about the performance.

I remember my mom taking the time to crimp our hair before the show.

I remember my dad being willing to go to a concert he most certainly didn’t enjoy just so that I could have the experience.

My memory isn’t of the concert itself, but of the gestures that made it special.

Letting go of The Self-Imposed Standard

We are so saturated by social media, it’s easy to believe there’s no point in doing something if it can’t live up to the standard we’ve envisioned. We’re drowning in inspiration and surrounded by the creativity of others. It’s wonderful and exhausting at the same time.

Every time we host a holiday meal, I have ideas about how I’ll set our table. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with gathering inspiration from Pinterest, home decor blogs and magazines. Trust me, I looove Pinterest. The problem arises when my 9 year old daughter wants to make the place cards.

I have two options at this point. I can embrace her creativity and include her in the fun of hosting OR I can shut her down in favor of an option that will probably be more blog-worthy. My husband once wisely said, “Someday she’s not going to be living in our house and you can decorate however you want, but for now, let her be involved while she still wants to be.” Boom. Mic drop.

The truth is that more likely than not, there will come a time when my industrious little creator might not have any interest in helping make our table look special. Why would I want to hold her back rather than savor this time? I can’t think of a single person in my life who would criticize my table because of handmade place cards.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t Instagram or blog your beautiful table setting. I mean, that would be ridiculously hypocritical. But don’t let the real moments of joy and beauty pass you by because of an unnecessary (or even unattainable) standard.

Recognizing the Kairos Moments

In her well-known essay “Don’t Carpe Diem,” author Glennon Doyle Melton writes the following, “Kairos is God’s time. It’s time outside of time. It’s metaphysical time. Kairos is those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day, and I cherish them… And at the end of the day, I don’t remember exactly what my kairos moments were, but I remember I had them. And that makes the pain of the daily parenting climb worth it.”

A few years back, my husband got some free tickets to an Angels game. We were so excited to take our kids to a baseball game and share the experience with them. I’m sure the game was fun, but what I really remember is my son letting loose the most horrendous diaper explosion ever on our way into the parking lot. No, cleaning him up was not a magical kairos type of moment. But laughing with my husband about the situation on the way home definitely was!

Seeing the pride on my daughter’s face as she directs our guests to look for their names on her carefully hand-drawn place cards… definitely a kairos moment.

As I plan out the fun things I want to do with our kiddos this summer, I want to be careful to reign in my own expectations. Instead of worrying about mapping out memories, I want to make time for the story to unfold on its own. After all, the most memorable moments of my life weren’t carefully orchestrated, but they happened anyway.

 

{Linking up to Thoughtful Thursdays, Salt & Light}

Share with a friend: