It’s so easy to fill out that spreadsheet or piece of paper with an idealistic frame of mind that does not account for the realities of working out a plan in a house full of people. To keep your time budget in touch with real life, keep in mind these three factors.
To make your time budget work better, always budget more time than you think the activity will take. If you plot in an activity you have to leave the house for, budget in not only the travel time, but also the getting-shoes-on-everyone time. I don’t know how many times I have been late and scrambling because though I budgeted enough time to get there, I didn’t leave enough time for the toddler meltdown, the child needing to use the bathroom, or the children not being able to find matching shoes. When we don’t leave time for those eventualities, we end up feeling stretched thin and ready to snap.
So rather than think – I’ll create a system that will make sure my children ALWAYS have their shoes and ALWAYS have clean faces and neatly brushed hair – I’ve tried and those systems never last long in real life. Instead, plan on 30 minutes “prep” time before heading out the door, and also keep a list of short tasks you can get done if your prep time was only 10 minutes – or, just arrive early or return the library books on the way or clean out the car for 5-10 minutes if you didn’t need the budgeted time.
Whatever it looks like for you, build margin around your activities as much as possible and allow time for children to be children and for people to be late and for snacks to be required or toys to be picked up. If we expect little setbacks and we have time enough to just roll with them, we won’t feel so worn out and stretched thin.
Budget Time for Rest
As we start filling in the overview of our weeks with our commitments and responsibilities, we also need to keep an eye on whether or not we have healthy amounts of rest built into our weeks. We can’t function in go-go-go mode all day, every day.
Sunday is a good day to take off of productivity. Use it as a day to rest, rejuvenate, worship, fellowship, read, walk, create. We don’t have to always be striving to get ahead. If we take one day out of seven off from effort, labor, and working, we’ll find we return to our daily life better equipped and more energetic. We will better use the time we have for taking one day off.
Whatever a day off looks like for you – and I don’t mean solitary confinement, but a day off of trying to do better and to get ahead – breathe deep, take the plunge, and set a day aside.
Budget Time for Renewal
A huge part of being a mother is pouring ourselves out for our family. This is good, if tiring, work. The Bible commends us not to grow weary of doing good – because we are so often tempted to do just that.
But also, if we want to be able to continually pour out without running dry, we have to be continually filling up, also. Time to fill our own inner well is not selfish, but a way to keep ourselves able to be a source of wisdom and love and help to our families. Burning out is not helpful. Remembering that we are persons, too, in need of encouragement, edification, and education is vital.
Encouragement can be found in friends, in online communities, in podcasts. It helps remind us that we are not alone and are doing good and worthwhile work.
Edification comes from reading Scripture, praying, reading solid books, and listening to teaching podcasts or sermons. We need to continually fill up with truth so we can speak with wisdom and knowledge.
Education is living out the cliché we tell our children: be a life-long learner. It isn’t limited to academic subjects, but includes handicrafts, baking, art, exercise, sports, bird-lore, a musical instrument – it is cultivating interests that keep our mind – and maybe even our bodies! – active and growing.
A time budget and a weekly plan is not good for us if it’s entirely about housekeeping, homeschooling, and errands. We as people are more than that, and we must account for it in our view of our week.
How do you make room for margin, rest, and renewal in your week?