How I manage my time…

So, a mom with three young children recently asked me how I manage my time.  I may have covered that here before, but I thought my response to her would be worthwhile to post.

I guess my one tip is:  You can’t do everything.  You just can’t.  So, you pick and choose.  If a clean house is a high priority, then you probably won’t get that book read, or meet a friend for coffee, or take your kids to the park much. Or… whatever.  Or, if supplementing your family’s income is a super-high priority, then other things in your life will suffer. You just can’t do it all.

At least, you can’t do it all, all at once.  During the school year, I mostly keep to a “six weeks on, one week off” schedule, so for a week or two every six weeks, my house looks fabulous, because I get caught up on cleaning and special projects. The intervening time… not so great.

In general, I tend to do things in “seasons”.  Sometimes, I do really well at staying on top of ironing.  Sometimes, I get a lot of writing done.  Sometimes, I’m able to sneak out for lunch with a friend… but all of that and more seems to be in cycles.  I’m virtually never on top of EVERYTHING all at once.

It keeps me dependent on Jesus.  And it humbles me, because I would LIKE to stay perfectly on top of everything, but I’m just not able to.  That’s just not the season in my life, and part of that is because I have chosen it.  I’d have a lot more time to myself if all my kids were in school, or if I had fewer children, or if I didn’t serve in my church, or if I didn’t work so hard to have our family eat cheap AND healthy… but those are the choices I’ve made, and while I’m glad I make them, daily, it automatically means that other things are squeezed out.

Something that has also helped me in the past, and I think I’m going to do again, is a daily schedule of household tasks.  I’ve used Motivated Moms. They have a variety of schedules, all printable pdfs, to help you keep track of what should be done each day. It’s a bit of a struggle for me, because I NEVER get done all the schedule says that I “should” get done… and then I feel like a failure, but when I follow a schedule, I do get more done than when I don’t use one at all…

About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on February 8, 2012, in Get Organized!, Homeschooling, Housework. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. This is so true. People often ask me how I do it all. I just reply, “I don’t! Nobody does.”

    Your “six weeks on, on week off” rhythm sounds really interesting! I’ve never heard of someone doing that. Does that mean you school through the summer?

    I might have to think on that a little. That MIGHT work for us.

    • Even though, in AZ, the requirement for homeschoolers to school for 35 weeks a year was lifted a few years ago, I still stick with it. We don’t school entirely through the summer. We typically start the 3rd week of August, and finish up the first or 2nd week of June. So, we still have 2+ months of summer. Some states require 36 weeks of school… you’d still have two months of summer with 36 weeks of school, though. That includes taking a whole week off at Thanksgiving and two weeks off around Christmas. So, with accomodating holidays & such, sometimes it’s 5 or 7 or 8 weeks “on”, then one week “off”. The “six weeks” thing is just an average. At the start of each school year, I map out our year, and then we don’t have to wait for such-and-such big holiday to have a much-needed break. 😀

  2. Thanks for your extremely encouraging post! I only have two small kids and I STILL can’t keep my house in good shape because I like to read and waste time on fb, etc., a little too much. But if I DON’T do those things, then I get really grumpy and horrible. I try to keep on top of laundry and dishes and keeping the main floor reasonably tidy, but usually our bedrooms get messier and messier and messier until I just can’t take it anymore and then I go through a cleaning blitz…

    • Heidi, I’m always in search of balance. The woman with the cleanest house I’ve ever met, IRL, had miserable children. It looked like no one lived in the home, because they DIDN’T. The children weren’t even allowed to sit on the furniture, and I’m not kidding. Her house was gloriously pristine clean, AND she was always doing sewing projects. She was active in both maintenance and in improving. However, clearly, one can get neurotic about having a clean, beautiful home. It can become an idol. And, I don’t want to go there. I want to have balance in my home, where I have the time to read my 3yo a picture book on demand, and to lie down in the green grass for 30 minutes without setting my day on end or not getting dinner done. But, I do find that, unless I keep myself challenged and accountable, I’m apt to be… um… really lazy. I’d read books all day, and find things to putter about online endlessly, and live totally fruitless. Or even just immerse myself in my garden all day. Good things, in moderation, but… I don’t know. It’s hard for me to have moderation in anything! So, I’m always seeking balance. A clean(ish) house with children who are well-tended, school that gets done, projects get accomplished, yet I get reading done, and spend time on FB, or whatever, too… Some days, I find the balance, and many days I don’t, and I get grumpy, too. 😀

      • Haha… We have very, very similar interests. Except that I don’t blog and I can’t garden in the winter!

      • By the way… That lady sounds crazy. I don’t think I’ve ever actually met someone like that in real life…

        I really struggle with self-motivation and accountability. I’m very inclined to be lazy too if I let myself. And sometimes it does happen. *sigh*

  3. I just discovered similar in concept to motivated moms. it’s helping me a lot! 🙂

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