Oh those lazy days of summer were so calm and relaxing. Suddenly September has befallen us and we seem to be inundated with school activities: homework, soccer practice and games, ballet practice, tae-kwon-do lessons, church activities, on top of our normal scheduled events, such as personal exercise, quiet times, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, yard work, etc. As the days go by, stress begins to build as we try to fit all of these activities into our already crowded schedule. We feel as if we are on a tred-mill and we can’t get off. We are in a state of perpetual motion at all times, with our hearts racing, our tempers getting shorter, and our patience waning.
What’s a parent to do? Your child has the school activities and homework which all children have. It is your desire for your child to have the opportunities to be on athletic teams or take dance or music lessons. Some parents believe in the importance of including their children in the training and upbringing in the church. So, these activities are all “givens”.
I have mentioned this scripture passage in a previous post, but it has had such a significant meaning in my life. It is Psalm 31:15 “My times are in your hands.” I truly believe that God has given us every 24 hour day that we have. Everyday that we have been given is a gift to us, and so every hour and minute is precious. Once that hour or minute has passed, it can not be lived again. Therefore it is of great importance for each of us to learn how to use our time wisely, as God would have us use it. For you see if our times are in God’s hands, He desires to be the one to help us know how to use every minute of that time.
The issue for us is how do we find out how God wants us to use our time? First of all we go to Him in prayer at the beginning of each day and ask Him how He would have us spend our day. We can take Him our plans – the kids going to school, our going to work, taking the kids to ball practice, doing the laundry, doing homework, etc, and then ask Him if there is anything else that He would like for us to do during the day. As we are praying, the thought might come into our head to call a friend who is sick. That is God speaking. Or the thought might be to skip the laundry and spend extra time with one child who has been withdrawn. That is God speaking. Maybe after having your quiet time with God during your day, your plans might get interrupted by an emergency that a co-worker has. God knew that was going to happen. You run with the flow and help your co-worker. God has planned your day, not you. Remember your times are in God’s hands and if you don’t get “your plans” done that is o.k. God’s plans are what are important. You see, God’s desire is that we give ourselves to Him each and everyday so that we can be used according to His purposes. At the end of the day we can have a peace in knowing that our day went along with God’s intentions for our day. If our plans were not all fulfilled, then they were not supposed to be. We can be content that our day was just as it was meant to be.
After we have had our time with the Lord each morning,(There are some night owl moms who do better having their time with the Lord at night and preparing for the day ahead at that time.)then we can begin our routine. For some moms it may be breakfast and getting her kiddos out of bed. For others it may be exercise time. Then it is getting the kids ready for school and onto the school bus or the car- pool. Moms and dads that work outside the home are then off to the races. One help for a lot of parents is buddying up with neighbors for car-pools or for standing with kids at the bus stop, or walking kids to school.
After school in the afternoons before dinner can be hectic. I used to call the hours from 4:00-6:00 the “Witching Hours”, because that was when my kids would be fussy as little ones. It can be just as unsettling for school-aged children, because they can be tired and cranky after a full day of school. Nevertheless, this is the time that we often have to do homework. So, parents, take in a deep breath, get yourself a nice tall glass of iced tea, and get your kids their favorite snacks to eat before beginning the homework. If you know that you have other evening activities plan ahead with your dinner schedule so that you are fixing something quick to cook, serve, and clean-up. Get the kids involved with helping you set the table and clean-up as part of their chores.
While the kids are cleaning up this is the perfect time to have some one-on-one time with one of your kids, or spend some extra time with homework with one of them. Then it is off to a practice or a game, or some extra play time. If you know other kids on the same team it gives you an opportunity to car-pool and that can save some of your running around.
I really believe in the importance of reading to your children every day. For some children this may be at bedtime, for others it is in the morning. After the practice, game, or playtime, it will be bedtime. During the school year, it is important that children get a good night’s rest. Kid’s need 10 hrs. of sleep a night. I know that some kids struggle in going to sleep at bedtime. You could try incentives, let them read in their beds until they fall asleep, try playing soft music, or give them a warm bath before bed.
After the kid’s bedtime some parents try to get chores done. Yet, some are completely wiped out. Moms and dads working together on household duties really helps at these times. Some duties may need to be pushed to another day, if one day’s duties have been overwhelming.
Tips that can be helpful for a busy week:
- Plan your menu for the week. On Saturday or Sunday you can put together some of your meals ahead of time and put them in the freezer, so that on busy days all that you have to do is micro-wave and serve. You can also plan Crockpot meals that can be ready when you get home at 5:00. Make meals simple when you have hectic weeks. This can be such a time saver!
- Go to the grocery store once a week, so that you’re not making many trips during the week.
- Prioritize your “to-do” list- Ask God to be in charge of your day and help you see what are the most important items that you need to focus on for your day.
- Get the family involved in helping at home with the chores, with the meal, etc.
- Take time to be with your children and husband each and every day. Maybe that quality time is talking in the car with your son as you drive to soccer practice. Maybe that time with your husband isn’t until bedtime. Maybe that special time with your daughter is when you read her a story in the wee hours of the morning after she just woke up. Maybe that quality time with another child is when you are braiding her hair or when she is helping you prepare dinner.
- Make time just for you during the day, even if it is just to sit for a moment with a cup of tea and relax on the porch. Everybody needs their own “down time” during the day.
- Remember that it is not always going to be so hectic. These crazy days will slow down.
I have just been reading the most marvelous book, Hands Free Life by Rachel Macy Stafford. It is an amazing book about parenting that you would love. I would like to share a poem that Rachel wrote:
Keeping Track of Life Manifesto
Not the digits on the scale
Not the numbers in my salary
Not the speed at which I respond to a text message.
Not the square footage of my nome
Not the circumference of my waist
Not the number of tasks I accomplish in a day.
Not the markings on my social calendar
Not the collection of awards on my wall
Not the volume of extracurricular duties I juggle all at once.
I’m keeping track of life.
I’m making the moments count….
In the kisses
In the hugs
In the words of my loved ones that ease my cluttered mind.
I’m finding joy in the now…
In the blessings
In the do-nothing moments
In the sacred pauses of life that heal my frenzied soul.
I’m keeping track of life
By cupping it in my two tree hands
Because I don’t want to miss a childhood
or the moments that make life worth living.
I’m keeping track of life
Because now I see what’s important cannot be measured,
purchased, or checked off a list
It must be felt through open hands and heart of an awakened soul.
Rachel’s book helps us see the importance of the small everyday moments in our lives that make life worth living. She gives us a new view of looking at life, despite the busyness to see what is truly the most important in our lives, and how we can claim it.
You might find these resources helpful:
May the Lord keep you in the palm of His hand,