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How do you do it all? - Issue 237
February 10, 2012
Hi there! ....

This week has been a fairly boring week in that each day’s focus has been about cleaning. It has been good to get these tasks done but hardly something to write about!! We have also been working on a few habits (or maybe they aren’t quite habits just yet, which is why we are still working on them! LOL) We are working on our morning routines, especially keeping off computers and getting out and exercising.

Live life with your kids!

If you are an Australian reader I would appreciate you reading this special request.

How do you do it all?

While I was away on holiday I had several people ask the same question, “How do you do it all”. Time management is a constant challenge for most mums – including myself. I don’t actually see myself as ‘getting it all done’ as those living with me or close to me will be able to tell you. But here are some of my thoughts on managing our time.

My first comment is always, always about the seasons of life. So often it is young mums asking me this question but we are in different seasons of life and therefore should have different expectations on ourselves. I have 4 teen (or soon to be teen) kids in my home, and though that still requires a lot of input, they also input into the running of the home – we work as a team, giving me some freedoms that young mums don’t have. I remember when I had baby number two (Jessica) I was so frustrated that I was getting nothing done. Nothing! I sat down and calculated how much time I spent on feeding my small family – Peter was working two jobs and kept early/late hours so we didn’t eat breakfast or dinner with him, though we often had lunch together. So I was feeding 3 groups of people: Peter and myself, a toddler and a baby all at different times. This took hours, there really wasn’t much time left to do much else. Seasons come and go. Each season has its own demands, limitations and freedoms. We need to enjoy the season we are in, make the most of it, and not over stretch ourselves because we are hankering for things out of season.

Secondly, know yourself. I am a morning person – my energies fade in the evening. I can still socialise in the evening, but work? I’d prefer not to. When my kids were young I’d leave the dishes in the sink overnight. Gasp! I know every time management, home-keeping book says not to do this – my mother never did this – but for me it was a case of taking 45 minutes of hard work after dinner, or 20minutes of swish swish in the morning. To me it was what worked. Sure, the day always starts better without dishes in the sink, but this was an adjustment I made because of knowing myself. I am the most productive in the morning. For this reason we get the house in order before we start our focus project (be that study or something else). I wake early in the morning and I have my time – this is time for reflection, prayer, exercise, thinking and sometimes writing or business related tasks. Over the years I have followed many home keeping ‘programmes’ with my favourites being Emily Barnes and Flylady but in the end it comes down to what works for me. I have always tweaked things to fit my situation and my strengths.

It has been important to me to take time to refresh. I was remembering with a friend, just yesterday, how cranky I was, once again when Jess was a baby, that Peter would take a rest on Sunday. My Sundays were anything but restful with nappies, bottles, babies, church, meals, friends visiting etc. I became resentful of his ability to walk away from his work. God spoke to my heart. It was up to me to organise my week so that I could take a break. It wasn’t up to Peter to give it to me (though he supported me and did often help me find this time). From that moment on I worked on finding time to rest. I looked at my day and the kids had an afternoon sleep at the same time – that became my time of creating. As they grew older they stopped having naps but continued to have rest time, room time, or reading time. It didn’t just happen: The kids had to be taught and trained to stay in their rooms and I had to be taught and trained to leave the undone things, and grab the moment.

We recently heard some teaching on the temperaments and I found it interesting that each temperament tends to recharge in a different way:

    Sanguine=social time, talking.
    Choleric=physical activity, exercise or projects
    Phlegmatic=nothing time
    Melancholy=private time
Whether you fit into one of those ‘categories’ or not doesn’t matter, but to see that there are so many different ways we can recharge. Having creative time while the kids are in their room may not work for you (know yourself!), but it is important that we find a way to regroup and refresh so that we can continue to give to our family.

I have a routine – it hasn’t come naturally, it is something that I have to work with but it is a tool that helps me achieve the things that I want to achieve. It is very hard to write about a routine without sounding like a schedule, driven by the clock. There is a balance that we need to be aware of the clock, in order to use our time wisely but we also need to keep our eyes on the important things and not be dictated to by predetermined time slots. Routines are habits of activity – so it takes time to develop routines. We have several mini routines making up our day: Early morning, focus time, afternoon time, late afternoon, and evening routine. These are the time slots, or blocks making up our day. When activity or interruption occurs it will be contained in one of these blocks. Then again there are always the things that happen that are more important that my plan – this is where routine and habits come into it – you go with what is important and then slip back into the routine of the day when you can.

Things that were important to the young Belinda, the with-no-kids Belinda have dropped off the radar – a nicely decorated home with all the extras of flowers and candles, nice meals with regularly trying new recipes, a house clean from top to bottom once a week, a fresh face at dinner time – these things were good things for me to practice before kids, before four kids, before stuff happened! But they have been dropped along the way and I’m okay with that. My house gets cleaned but it may not shine, our family eats nutritional meals though there isn’t much variety, candles happen on special occasions. The key here is that we need to drop things that don’t allow us to be fruitful in the season that we are in. I’m delighting in seeing my heart returning for some of those ideas, we are trying new recipes, painting the bathroom and redecorating in a small way, and I’m managing to freshen up before dinner some nights! But while my children were young those things were not important.

The character trait that reflects these ideas is thoroughness: Knowing my goal and completing it with excellence. It’s not just about knowing your goal though – you have to be able to drop those things that limit you from completing your goal with excellence.

Let’s recap before I share my last key:

    Key #1: Recognise the seasons of your life
    Key #2: Know yourself and what works for you
    Key #3: Take time to refresh
    Key #4: Have Routines (habits throughout your day)
    Key #5: Be thorough – know your goal and drop anything that won’t help you achieve that

The last key for me is accepting the truth that I ain’t getting it all done!! I have a very long unachieveable to-do list, I have a cupboard full of unfinished projects, a long list of ideas to write about, ironing pile that is growing, friends I really must write to or have a coffee with, clutter that should be decluttered and cupboards that need cleaning. There is always so much more that can be done. My job as homemaker and my role as mother means that there will always be things to do – my job is never done. But the challenge is – have I done well today.

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Until next week

Belinda Letchford
Living life with her kids in Australia!

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About Live Life with your kids Newsletter I know homeschool mums are busy with lots to read, so I have divided my newsletter into four sections and you will receive one section a week; short but regular newsletters!
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