Making Peace with the 24-Hour Day

Do you have more things to do than time to do them?  Really?  No, not really.  Would God give you more to do than time to do it?   Of course not.  So if you feel that you can’t get it all done, then maybe it’s not all yours to do. Or, you aren’t organizing yourself. The question is, which is it? Most moms like to get things done.  Whether we stay at home or work out of the home, we tend to have more goals than time to accomplish them. Several times during talks I’ve given on this topic, the light goes on for many when I’ve stated that God would not give us more to do than we could get done. It’s an important fact we often forget.

Once we realize this, the next stage for women is to make peace with the 24-hour day.  Don’t be tempted to beat yourself up:  If I can’t get everything done than I must be the problem.  Sure, sometimes we are the problem. But more often, just like a child whose eyes are bigger than his stomach, our goals are more numerous than hours in a day.

The Four C’s

I don’t always get everything done that I would like, but I keep my head above water. As the mother of ten children and writer of books and articles, I spend time with my kids, keep the housework going (not always “done”) and put dinner on the table every night. By following my four C’s, I manage to pace myself.

Christ  He is the one to whom I turn to navigate my day. “I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13). So I begin each day in prayer, usually swith Mass, and touch bases with him throughout the day. The goal is not just how much I get done, but that I am scheduling and working in union with God’s desire for me moment by moment.

Condense Look for ways to do things quicker and easier. When making dinner, can you double it and have leftover for lunch or another dinner?  Are there aspects to chores that are not necessary or could be done less often?

If you have a compulsive nature and vacuum rooms that don’t need it or dust more than once a week, try to do less of the things that don’t matter by concentrating on the necessary tasks..  As you go about your day, look for shortcuts.

Co-opt  Can you and a friend trade childcare so that you have a few uninterrupted hours to do some turbo cleaning or get big projects done?  I’ve heard of moms who share meals, although I’ve never done it.  One cooked dinners for both families for two days and the other mom cooked dinners for both families on two other days; thus freeing up time.

There are tasks like dog walking—I take your dog this week, you take mine next week—that lend itself to this.  If your child has sports, music or some other practice, look around for parents who live nearby who are willing to take turns driving.   Once you put your mind to work, you will discover ways to co-opt with others.

Even if it is not the same trade, it can be an even trade: Help a relative with housework in place of them babysitting for you.

Consider Are all the tasks in your day meant for you?  There’s a lot of worthy volunteer work, but is it the work God is calling you to at this point in your life?  Do you take on jobs at home that your children could and should be doing?  Make an assessment of your schedule. Consider all the activities you have your children involved in. Are they necessary?  Is the benefit worth the cost?

Years ago, my three oldest boys were in soccer. My husband worked every other Saturday.  On Jamboree Day one year, I was alone with three young boys, a toddler and a baby. Each child played three games. It was cold and snowy and my baby was still nursing.  At the end of the nine game jamboree—a day in purgatory for me—I asked my boys if they cared if they did soccer next year. All three said they didn’t care.  I was knocking myself out for something that didn’t even matter to them.

Many things do matter, I am simply suggesting that you consider the whole picture.  Ask God to help you discern which things are important and which are not.    Weigh the cost/benefit of this world as well as the next. We want to equip our children to do well, but the temptation to invest too much in this world and not enough in the spiritual aspects of life, often puts us out of balance.

Live in the Moment

If you feel so busy that life is burdensome, then something is out of balance.  If your home and family have become irritations, you are misplacing your priorities. Granted, life is not a picnic and we must take the good with the bad, but if feeling overwhelmed is your “normal” then you are not living in union with Christ’s desire for you.

Jesus said,  “My peace I leave with you, my peace I give,”  (John 14:27)  If stress is your middle name, take steps to replace it with peace. I know of no better way than in prayer before the Lord, to begin to alter your life course. Walking in union with Christ will lead to peace.

Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees or see the years for the minutes.  Even if you feel like you are not doing all that much, it adds up. Life is lived minute by minute. Organize your minutes, stay close to Christ and you will live a life of value.

Patti Maguire Armstrong, is the mother of 10, and has a B.A. in social work and M.A. in public administration. Her newest book is Holy Hacks: Everyday Ways to Live Your Faith & Get to Heaven. Others include Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and the Amazing Grace Series. Follow her at @PattiArmstrong and read her blog at PattiMaguireArmstrong.com.

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