March 25, 2010

Accomplish More By Expecting Less

Pencil and day planner We all have the same 24 hours in a day to accomplish homeschool, housework, callings, and the many other things we want and need to do. Many people ask “How do you find time for everything?” and the short answer is I Don’t. I do want to share how I find time for the things that make the top of my list. It all starts by deciding what your goals are. Right now my most important goals are:
  • Raising my children to be confident, faithful, educated adults equipped to become mothers and fathers of the next generation.
  • Growing with my husband as a married couple and as friends.
  • Reaching out to God in my weakness and praying my way through the challenges of mortal life.
Did you notice what didn’t make my list right now? There was nothing on there about ministering to others outside my own home, getting a job, or taking a class at the local gym. In my season of life as a young (28 is young still, right?) married woman and mother of several children my focus is here at home. I say no to as much as I can outside my goals so that I can say yes to those who matter most. I find time for my goals by using a day to day routine. With 5 children young children I need to wake everyone at a set time in the morning so I’m only making breakfast once. That signals the start of the routine, with homeschool, chores, and food. Then we repeat the cycle: more homeschool, more chores, more food. By afternoon all homeschool is finished, leaving the rest of the day free for other pursuits as a family. Housework falls under the goal for my children to become adults prepared to raise families of their own. With that being said, I try to:
  1. Model a cheerful attitude about my domestic work to my children.
  2. Work alongside my children, training them in how to do the work of a home.
Our checkpoints in each day are meals and snacks. We frequently do a cleanup before each meal because everyone likes to eat. They are more motivated to work quickly with food or an enjoyable activity coming next. cleaning products One important thing that bears mentioning again is that my children do chores with me, beginning around 18 months old. Five extra pairs of hands makes short work of most messes. We have made accommodations to encourage this:
  • We currently use plastic dishes and cups for all meals. These live in a bottom cabinet that used to hold baking supplies. That means my 2, 4, 5, and 8 year old can unload the dishwasher completely on their own. The 1 year old tries to help.
  • We bought little hand brooms with dustpans at the dollar store for each child. They can clean up small messes on the kitchen and dining room floor easily.
  • Each bedroom has a laundry basket. Children can put away their own laundry, and my 8 year old can wash and dry laundry.
  • I lowered my standards in some areas. We don’t dust, wash windows, or fold clothes. I also buy wash and wear clothes – my children do not know what an iron is, and I am okay with that.
  • I raised my standards in some areas. When we have a baby the floor gets swept/vacuumed more than once a day to keep choking at bay. Instead of doing laundry once a week like we did with one child, we wash two loads a day with our family of 7. That is one load of cloth diapers and one load of clothes.
We also have a daily quiet time for everyone. Around 1pm everyone goes to their bed with a pile of books. They may read, nap, or play quietly. I usually turn on an audio book in the hall between bedrooms that everyone can listen to. This is the time I rest, write on my blog, and read my scriptures if I didn’t get to it before the kids woke up. Quiet time is so important that we do it on the weekends when daddy is home too. Everyone benefits from a little bit of quiet. My husband has a unique schedule, which makes finding time to work on our relationship an adventure. He goes to bed at 8pm each evening to be up for work at 2am and arrives home between 4pm-7pm each evening. That makes date nights a bit difficult, so we date at home. On the weekend when the kids are asleep we may talk, watch a movie, or play a game together. If he is home during the week we sometimes use quiet time as a mini-date, just snuggling up on the couch. We keep in touch during the day with phone calls while he is driving a truck. I have learned that when I feel like I am not getting ‘everything’ done it is often because I have lost sight of my goals. Stepping back and saying no to some of the activities that have crept into my life usually rights the balance again. I also know that as children grow in abilities my life becomes easier. When my oldest child was not yet 5 and I was pregnant with a 7 month old and 1 year old in the house I had to do practically everything myself. That meant I let go of everything I possibly could and lowered my standards on the rest. If you are in that stage right now I promise that it will get easier every day. Before you know it, those little hands that can only make messes will be a real help and you will slowly work yourself out of a job. You can drop in and visit Tristan and her family at their homeschool blog, Our Busy Homeschool. (This post was originally published on Our Busy Homeschool)

6 comments - Add a comment below -:

Tarasine (pronounced Tara-seena, in case you were wondering) said...

Thanks for this post! I especially liked your point about losing sight of your goals as a cause of lost balance. I am feeling like that right now, and your thoughts are very helpful. I am one who has a very hard time "lowering standards", but I am learning! It is important to remember, as you pointed out, that this stage of parenthood/homeschooling will not last forever, and that many things will get easier as my children get older. I appreciate your insights very much.

Dana ♥ said...

Because I am "home" during the day people often assume that I am free to run them here and there, babysit, etc. I learned that lesson the hard way. I made myself physically sick trying to juggle homeschooling, my family responsibilities and running around doing outside service. I learned that dropping priorities for things not of an URGENT matter was really burdening my family.

"NO other success will compensate for failure in the home." Only a small fraction of my life will be spent raising my children. Of course I will always be their mother, but they will take care of their own lives at some point and that responsiblity will no longer be mine. To everything there is a season. I ♥ this season I am in.

As a family we do acts of service for others, like taking meals, making phone calls, helping in various ways, when we can do so without neglecting more important things. Thanks for the post Tristan.

legendswife said...

Thank you so much for this post. I've been having problems in this category. Some prayer and reorganized thinking (deciding what's URGENT CARE) will help:)

God Bless

Tristan said...

Thanks for the comments ladies!

Tarasine - We all have different areas we can lower standards, so think creatively! For example, it would drive my sister crazy to not iron, while she may not care about something that would drive me crazy to lower standards on. Time does fly though. It amazes me how quickly they grow up, and I'm just holding on for the ride some days!

Dana - I have found that mindset in others too, that I'm home and not busy, and it is easy to let the urgent overwhelm us. Great ideas about service with your family - something I'm sure my family could consider more of! Thanks.

Jeanine said...

I loved this article, thank you. You mentioned much of what I have found works best. I love daily routines, small brooms, dishes in low shelves, kids putting away their own clean clothes (for the play pants/shorts in my home that even means not folded. We hang all shirts, kids learn to hang clothes rather easily).

I could not agree more that we have to simplify our lives so we can be masters of a few things rather then a "Jack of all trades". There is always someone trying to add something onto our plates when we stay-at-home. I am so glad for the confident reminder to keep it simple.

Looking forward to reading more.

Cheshercatmm said...

Thank you so much for this post! It was exactly what I needed today! My husband has a muscle disease, and there are some days (such as today) that I am completely overwhelmed by everything I have to juggle, mostly alone. It always looks as if everyone around me has it together, and I am just floundering on the surface. I appreciate, mostly, the solid advice of exactly what I can do to make it easier. I only have a 5 and 2 year old at home, but most of the time the 2 year old feels like having 3 more. Thank you again for the encouragement and advice. It really helps!