A few days ago, I crashed. I had virtually made it to the end of an extremely busy season when I felt I absolutely couldn’t make it another day. My poor loving husband happened to call me at a particularly bad moment when it all came spilling out. Because I am married to the nicest man in the world, he gave me the day off. I picked up Martha Ramsland’s Simplify Your Life: Get Organized and Stay that Way. In the first chapter on organizing your calendar my problem was revealed: “Calendar overload exacts a heavy price, which is why it’s often not worth the ‘big push’ to attend to everything and please everyone. A calendar without breathing room wears any normal person out, so guard your calendar to reflect the pace of life that you can personally handle. Discouragement and fatigue may be a reflection of a time schedule out of balance.” She suggests that in order to avoid this burn-out, you need to schedule at-home time — at least 2 weeknights (Monday through Thursday) and 1-2 weekend evenings (Friday through Sunday). As I looked back over my calendar, I realized that for the past 3 months we had 0 weeknights and at most 1 weekend evening at home due to sports practices, church activities and other various things that came up. On top of this I’m homeschooling, trying to organize a home and blog about it, trying to maintain a household (cleaning, meals, laundry. . .), training for a half-marathon, and maintain a certain number of daily on-line work hours. I realized I needed a change; I needed to simplify our calendar. So I came up with the following plan:
1) Simplify (somewhat) my homeschooling – I am going to spend the summer on the quest for different curriculum. What I currently use requires a lot of involvement, preparation and research from me. I came to the conclusion, after talking to a homeschooling mom I greatly respect, that it is okay to let someone else who has already done this successfully, do some of the work for me. It’s okay to buy a prepackaged curriculum that I trust. I can still put my mark on it. With 3 kids at 3 different levels and a very busy preschooler, it just might save my sanity.
2) Simplify our sports schedules – I’m still working out exactly how this will look, but having practices every night of the week and games all day Saturday just doesn’t work for us. My husband and I are looking at sports programs like Upwards that seem to be a little more consolidated with all ages on the same nights, or possibly having our children stagger their participation. I’d love to hear from someone else on this . . . how do you keep your activities with multiple children at a sane level?
3) Re-schedule my Runs – I like to run at least 2 half-marathons a year. It keeps me running and challenges me with longer distances, but I need to think about all that is going on in our lives when I schedule a run. I was starting to stress out about getting long runs in and taking away our one free day as a family in order to complete it. I had to re-evaluate and decide that I don’t need to run this particular race. Rather than forcing a spring-run into our schedules, I’m now planning for one this summer when the schedule is much lighter.
4) Clarify my work schedule – I am mostly a stay-at-home mom, but I work for a standardized testing company and have a 10-day (give or take) period of on-line scoring after a test is administered. During a scoring session I commit to a certain number of hours and in order to get those in I spend every spare minute on the computer – 10 minutes til dinner? I’ll score a few papers. I get tired, and the kids, house and my husband get neglected. I’ve decided to schedule undisturbed work hours each day; hours the family knows I am working (most likely when their sleeping or otherwise occupied), then stop and spend time with the family when my hours are complete.
5) Simplify my organizing – This blog is fun and it is my accountability for getting myself organized, but it is just that – fun. I need to make sure that when things get busy I’m not taking time from my family or work just so I can make a blog entry. Sometimes I may only blog once or twice a week and that’s okay.
6) Schedule down-time/family time – My calendar needs to include down-time at home with the family. In addition to reducing the number of activities on my calendar, I need to schedule in time with the family and my husband so they aren’t neglected.
7) Protect my Quiet Time – I know I’m too busy when my devotion time starts getting neglected. Why is that always the first thing to go? It shouldn’t be! When I miss my time with the Lord, everything else gets off. I need to keep my daily appointments with Him first.
We’ve all heard that the typical American family is over-scheduled. I never thought it would be me, but apparently I am typical. It’s time to go against the norm and put our sanity first.