Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday Thinking - Scheduling My Life Away - part 1

Ideas for this post have been floating around in my head for weeks. Before I even started a blog I was thinking of how I would write out all my thoughts about schedules, routines, and such. I love organizing - organizing space, organizing people, organizing time - I'm an organizer. Not that I am organized, but I seem to be perpetually organizing something.

Just like life, it's an on-going process of learning, re-doing, and trying something different, until you find what works.

It looks like a lot of bloggers are thinking about the same thing lately. I've read several just this week questioning how to fit everything into an already busy life. I think the fact that school is starting up soon for many families has spurred a lot of moms into action as they try to get a hold on how to manage their households and too-busy lives. It makes me tired just thinking about it.

Actually, when summer began I had, oh, about a million plans for what we were going to do. We were going to go on field trips to museums, go to puppet shows in the park, to special events at the library, to prayer and play groups on every Monday and Wednesday every week, keep the house clean, keep the family fed (healthy food of course), do planned tot school activities several times a week, daily art projects, clean out the basement, etc. etc. etc.

And, somehow I also envisioned lazy days hanging out in the backyard, with nothing to do, as well as a perfectly-content-and-at-peace-mama who never lost her temper or sense of pure serenity, always patient and gentle and kind.

What was I thinking?!

It wasn't too long until those pretty pictures in my mind weren't so pretty anymore and were actually causing a whole lot of stress. And I was tired. T-I-R-E-D. Tired just from thinking about all of these plans, and wondering what was wrong with me - I only have one child! I know mothers who are on the go all the time with 4 or 5 children! How do they do it?

These questions swam around in my head one morning as I prayed for the energy just to get out of bed and maybe get the laundry done. My 2 year old came in the room and climbed up in bed with me wanting to play and snuggle. That's when I mumbled something about "Tired. Need sleep." (And so, a blog was born.)

My favorite, non-child-centered, blog is The author, Jennifer, had this great post one day. In it she mentions finding out what restores your energy when you are feeling drained. Is it relaxing with friends, chatting, socializing? Or is it being alone, quietly working on some project or just thinking? If it's socializing, you are an extrovert. If it's quiet time alone, you are an introvert.

I, most certainly, am an introvert.

I've had to realize being on the go all the time is not healthy for me.

And I don't think it's necessary for a 2 year old to do everything available for them to do. If we are always doing special things, they aren't special any longer. He may decide it's the norm, and there we are - stuck trying to do bigger, better, more-special things.

A 2 year old needs a mother who is at peace within herself, so much more than he needs fun activities to do.

I started asking myself a few questions when planning our activities for each week:

  • Will he have more fun going to this particular activity than he would just staying at home and playing?

  • Is there anything extraordinarily important about this activity? (Is it a once in a lifetime opportunity? Is it a great chance to learn about something he's shown an interest in?)

  • Do I feel that this would be an enjoyable outing for us and a chance to get out of the house (which we occasionally really, really need) or would preparing for it, messing with routines, missing naptime, etc. just bring a lot of stress into our lives?

  • Do I feel I have to do this because others are doing it? (If that's how I'm feeling, and the only reason I'm contemplating doing something then it's a major red flag that I'd be happier not doing it. And Mama's happiness is what it's all about. Seriously.)

  • Will the needs of the family as a whole still be easily met if we do this? This includes having basic housework and chores done, meals planned, laundry, etc. It's ok to plan time to do these daily things that must be done in order to keep a house running in a non-chaotic manner. It's ok if other things have to go in order to do these things. Taking care of my home and family should be a joy and a privilege, not something I do with my leftover time after running us all ragged.

They've made a difference, these questions. We've chosen to not do at least 5 things on our original summer activity list in the last 2 weeks. And it's been great. Homelife is under control. We've spent more time playing outside (and in Minnesota, we have to make the most of these warm days; they don't last very long!), more time on normal, every day fun things, and more time just plain being together.

I also want to talk about how I'm working on setting up my schedule in a way that takes into consideration my priorities, child development and child stress, as well as actual time-management for the things that must be done, but that will have to wait for part 2, and maybe part 3. :)

Have a beautiful, lazy summer day! :)


  1. This is an awesome post! I totally agree with everything you said about the pressure to overschedule ourselves and our children. I am also an introvert, and I also work full time, so it's even more crucial for me to decide what to do in those precious hours in the afternoon that I spend with my daughter. Thanks for taking me through your decision-making process.
    By the way, the reason why you see a lot of "Organization" posts this week is because a lot of homeschooling moms participate in the Summer Picnic talk at this site - It's an awesome site, and once every week during the summer you can link your post on the topic of the week to their Picnic post. Obviously, this week topic is "Organization". LOL.

  2. LOL, that is really funny! I read ABCand123, and even have the button over on the left side of the blog. I don't remember seeing that post though. I'll have to go to the actual website more often instead of reading it in Google Reader. Sometimes I miss some things that way.
    And yes, it must be extremely difficult to balance a full time job and parenting. My hat is off to you for doing such a great job balancing those things.


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