When we have little ones in our home, or are homeschooling our children, it can feel like we don’t have much time to call our own. Sometimes I feel like a ship adrift, being tossed around on the waves of all the things I have to do. I can’t ever get to the end, no matter how frantically I paddle. Have you ever felt this way?
Throw an anchor overboard! It can stop the tossing tide from making your life crazy.
There are anchors in every day. They can be mealtimes, or baby’s nap, the time your husband comes home, or when your teenager leaves for work. These are pretty stable, even if they don’t follow a specific clock time. Even when your day is unpredictable, those anchors nearly always happen and they can help keep you on course. Here’s some of mine:
Family scripture study
Moms are hard-pressed to work on a punctual time schedule, but we can use those anchors to get control of our time. I have decided that between our early morning family scripture study (my first anchor) and lunch (my second anchor of the day), I need to exercise and I want to teach homeschool. Those are my top priorities. I have a very long to-do list that tries to wiggle its way into that time . . . making phone calls, checking email, helping my husband with the business, grocery shopping, doing dishes or laundry, mending, church work, going to dental/medical appointments, reading the book I am interested in, etc. But if I focus on those two priorities during that time slot—exercise and homeschool—and accomplish nothing more, I will have had a very successful morning!
As each day passes by, if we focus on the most important “to-do’s”, all the extraneous and less important time-consumers just end up falling away. There is no time for them. Even though I enjoy several of those activities, or feel obligated or pressed to do all those things on my endless “to-do” list, my priorities cannot— they must not—take the place of what is truly important in my life. Besides, doing lesser things does not give the satisfaction that comes from making progress on the things you value most.
It helps to get a clear perspective on what really matters. I ask myself questions like this: “If I were to die in 2 weeks, what would I want to do with my final days?” It also helps to pray about priorities, getting another viewpoint than our own. Heaven’s light shed upon our plans makes us think clearer. Another consideration is that some things can only be done once in life, and you cannot go back and re-do them. Such things as marrying the right person, having children during your childbearing years, giving your children a happy childhood, teaching good habits to your kids, training them to love God and be good Christians, etc. are one-shot deals, and should receive top priority.
Did you notice that bedtime is not on my list of anchors? That is because it needs working on at my house! But, it should be the most important anchor of the day, because it determines how you are going to feel the next day! If you have young children, it is crucial to set a bedtime as an anchor that you can depend on. Even the most loving mother can turn into a witch as the hour gets late and too-tired, accident-prone, crying children are still running around. If you can set a bedtime, both for yourself and your children, life gets in control much faster!
Jot down your anchors on a piece of paper, creating a time block between them, and you will have a great guide for each day. Reality sets in when you can see on paper that if you do your priorities, you can’t stretch yourself much thinner! The page you create could be a template for a daily calendar. If you can’t fit something in without bumping out your priorities, it probably isn’t realistic to say “yes” to that time commitment.
Here’s how it looks:
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