The first full month of school is in my rearview mirror. And I can honestly say, it’s taken every bit of the last 30 days to successfully transition. Moving from Loosey-Goosey-Sticky-Summer to the Rhythm-Routine-School-Schedule is difficult, even for a girl like me, who THRIVES in rhythm and routine.
Here are a few things (some old and some new) that I’m doing to stay balanced during this busy school season.
1. I’m Setting A Lot of Timers.
Remember when I talked about my Facebook addiction? Turns out, it’s impossible to stay addicted to something when you only designate a whopping 15 minutes a day to it.
Seriously. I think I’m fully recovered.
Timers aren’t only for social media, though. I’m setting timers for anything and everything that feels daunting and overwhelming. (Think housework) Many-a-night, I’d crawl into bed trying to recall what I accomplished that day. Where did the hours go? No more. Setting timers is helping me spend the hours intentionally. Plus, it always surprises me what I’m able to accomplish when I’m racing against a clock. In fact, I’m racing against one now. It’s a physical reminder that if I stay focused and keep my rear end in the chair, I might create something helpful for you.
2. I’m Filling My Mind With God’s Word.
This, not the timer, is the real reason I’ve become indifferent to Facebook. After I wrote this post, I decided that every time I’m tempted to check social media or emails, I will first (or instead!) read a few verses or a few chapters of the Bible. I leave my Bible open on my kitchen counter, next to my phone. Well, on top of my phone, actually. Amazing how, after I’ve taken a few minutes to let God speak to me, the urge to see if someone “liked my status” loses its impact. (Saying that out loud sounds even more bizarre than thinking it.)
I realize I cannot even begin to comprehend the life-changing and long-term benefits of this practice, but I have already noticed a few. First, I feel more centered and peaceful and clear-headed. And second, God’s wisdom is at the forefront of my mind whenever I’m facing a personal challenge or need to counsel a child—which is pretty much all the time.
I mean, really, funny cat videos will only get you so far in parenting wisdom.
3. I’m Writing Everything Down.
I’ve always proclaimed the importance of this, but even I, The Keeper of All Lists, go through times where I wing it and hope for the best. This Fall, winging it is simply not an option. I am the parent of two busy teens and a second-grader, all of whom have full homework, extra-curricular and social calendars. On top of that, my husband is a busy hospital president and triathlete. And we are building a house. Which means, we will soon be selling a house. And also, moving.
It’s so much.
Anything memory-worthy immediately goes from my brain onto a list or the calendar. I also have a morning checklist to remind me who needs library books, what day we are carpooling, and who needs an extra snack for Cross Country, as well as All The Other Things I Need To Remember. It’s incredibly liberating to release this information from my brain onto actual paper. Then, I can free my brain to think thoughts. Not lists.
4. I’m Dealing With Emails Immediately.
This summer, I cleaned out my inbox. In one sitting, I deleted over 10,000 emails and unsubscribed from every life-sucking email list. At that moment, I vowed to forever keep my emails under control and spend as little time as possible lingering there. Sometimes I respond quickly from my phone, but mostly, I’m setting a timer and processing them at night or first thing in the morning.
5. I’m Planning Meals and Preparing Dinner Early.
Serving my family healthy, home-cooked dinners is a high priority for me. And the only way I can pull it off with our busy schedule is to plan my meals, shop from my meal plan and prepare as much as I can while the kids are at school. The Crock Pot is my new BFF.
6. I’m Getting Myself Completely Ready Before I Get the Kids From School.
Making sure I’ve prayed, blogged, exercised, showered, shopped and socialized during the school hours leaves me free in the evenings to be completely present with my kids, which is the most important thing to me in this season of life. That means, I don’t leave any of my personal things for the evening. No dinner with girlfriends. No evening runs. No after school phone conversations or texting. If it’s about me, I handle it while my family is away.
(I realize many of you don’t have this option. You are working outside the home or homeschooling during school hours. If I worked outside the home or homeschooled, I would need to come up with a different plan, too. I’m not saying this is the only way. I’m just saying this is what I need to do to make this season of life work for my family. You will need to seek God’s wisdom for your life and your season.)
7. I’m Saying No to Good Things.
Yes, the Thursday night skating party would be fun. As would the fundraiser and the home-décor party and the neighborhood yard sale and the Women’s Ministry Connect Groups and the seminar and the Band Booster Meeting.
I’m sorry, but no thank you.
Every “yes” to one of those things means I’m stretching myself a little thinner. Every “yes” to one of those things means I become more brittle and anxious. Every “yes” to one of those things means a “no” to something else more important to me right now. No offense, but I’m choosing my “yeses” and “nos” wisely and intentionally.
8. I’m Doing As Much As I Can Before I Go To Bed.
Packing lunches, setting out clothes for the next day, stuffing backpacks, signing permission slips and school papers, and getting the coffee pot ready. All that happens before I shut my eyes for the night. And makes for much more peaceful mornings, by the way.
9. I’m Reading Life-Giving Books in Bed.
I always read at night. But I haven’t always been picky about what I read. Sometimes, I’d get lost in a good novel. Sometimes, I’d read a parenting book or a marriage book or self-help (aka, all the ways I need to improve myself) book. Or maybe a fitness magazine or a cooking magazine or a stack of catalogues. Whatever was on my nightstand, that was what I’d read. But I realized that not all reading material promotes restful sleep. For example, when I read parenting books, I spend the whole night fitfully worrying about my children and all the ways I need to be a better Mom. Or, if I look through furniture or house décor catalogues, I toss and turn over all the things I need to do to get our house ready to sell or get the new one ready to inhabit. So, I’ve become highly selective about my nighttime reads. I still read that other stuff, I choose to do it during the day or on the weekends, instead of at night before bed. (BTW, I just finished, for the second time, Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist. I think it’s one of my favorite nighttime reads ever. It also has outstanding recipes, which I am determined to make–each and every one. And, also, I want to buy it for all my friends.)
Hey! How about a little Give-Away? Leave a comment about this post and I’ll enter you in a drawing to win a copy of Bread and Wine.
Give-Away Rules: The comment MUST be on the blog. Facebook comments and emails, as lovely as they are, will not enter you in the drawing. Sorry, but I’ll go batty if I have to chase all your comments down All entries must be received by Midnight, Wednesday Sept 17.
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
Disclosure: That link up there is an affiliate link. If you purchase Bread and Wine by clicking through that link, I receive a small commission. I did not receive any free copies for this giveaway. I really just wanted someone to have it, because I love the book so much.