"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philipians 3:13b,14

Friday, February 25, 2011

Housewifery Part 1- Creating a Routine

So, I have to tell you something.

I am lazy.

It is something I've learned to overcome (most of the time), but deep down, it's always there.

And here's something else.... I'm a housewife. That term doesn't bother me at all. Actually I kind of like it. I know it conjures up all kinds of stereotypes involving bon bons and soap operas, but that's ok, I don't fit any of those. So ha.

When I quit my job to be a housewife in 1999, I knew within a few weeks that I needed to create some kind of structure for my day, because I would often sleep in really late, watch a lot of TV, and then scramble to get all of my chores done late in the day. (at this time in our life, we actually go rid of our TV for about 3 years!)

I read a few books on the subject, and began to realize that I needed to see my time as a commodity to be scheduled, planned with, and budgeted, just like money. I couldn't just decide whether or not I would have time to do something based on how I felt, I would need to put together a basic framework of the things I had to do so that I could see how much time I had left over for discretionary activities.

I understand that some people are naturally organized, and may not need such a structured schedule, but if you are constantly feeling like you get to the end of your day and still have a million things to do, and if you feel overwhelmed by the basic chores of running your house, a scheduled routine may be just what you need!

After I put together a structured schedule, it was so freeing!! I could no longer claim I "didn't have time" to do certain basic things, because I saw how much time I did have, and how wastefully I was spending that time.  It allowed me, instead,  to choose how I was going to use my hours and minutes, as opposed to just attending to the problem that was howling the loudest for my attention. Charles Hummel calls this the "Tyranny of the Urgent", this way of spending your time. You don't have a plan, so you just address the activities that seem the most urgent each day. And you and I both know that these things will press in on your time. Things that seem urgent.

So how do you go about creating a schedule or routine? For me, I started with 15 minute blocks of time, and almost immediately went to half hour blocks of time. I found a template, like this:


Then I filled it in! I would start with the things that you NEED to do first. I made one copy of the schedule for each day of the week, because there were some days that had certain activities that weren't an every day thing, like grocery shopping, or bible study, things like that. This was particularly helpful in establishing a home school routine, and an exercise routine. I would review the next day's schedule before I went to bed the night before, this way I was prepared for what was ahead! And if someone called wanting to have lunch, or needing me to take a meal to a family, or wanting me to go to the park, I could easily look at my schedule and tell if; (1) I had the time to do that thing, and (2) how much time I could commit to doing something. I could also move some chores and responsibilities around if I had time slots available to do so.

I don't follow a strict schedule anymore, mostly because it has become almost innate after doing it for many years. I usually create a schedule at the beginning of the school year, for the purpose of seeing what activities will fit, and where. Writing this though, makes me think I should pull out my schedule and follow it strictly for a few weeks and see how much more I could get done!

If you are married, I would really encourage you to block off a few half hour segments each week to do things that would help your husband. It's really nice to be able to ask him, "hey, is there anything I could do today that would make your life easier?" Sometimes there won't be anything they need, but often they could benefit from some errands being run, looking up information that they need for work, certain articles of clothing being clean, or just making something special for dinner! I have used my "Wade" blocks of time to pick up his favorite magazine and a nice card for him to find in his lunch pail, or on the counter when he gets home. It's nice to have some time specifically set aside to care for your husband. :)

I would  also encourage you to think (really get alone and think) about your time, and how you spend it. Sit for awhile and figure out what things are important to you. Is it time with your kids? Exercise? Cooking more? Having some down time to read? Make up your schedule, and see, realistically, how you can fit the things you want to do around the things you have to do. One thing I decided a long time ago is that, to me, relationships with other people are a priority. You're not just going to magically have time to invest in relationships with others though, so for me, I started out with picking one day of the week and trying to purposefully spend an hour with someone I don't see very often. Lunch, or coffee, or whatever. It was really eye opening how I could EASILY do that with a little bit of planning! I picked some time, didn't schedule other things during that time, and I had the freedom to call friends and see if they wanted to spend an hour together!

I am definitely NOT perfect at keeping my routine every single day. No one is (even if they seem like it). But it's just like starting to budget your money- establishing what your goals are, and making a plan to accomplish them, IS important.

Elisabeth Elliot talks about time, in her book, Discipline and explains that there are two ancient concepts of time,
"One, expressed by the Greek word chronos, refers to "the minutes of our hours" or the notion of duration and succession. The other, kairos, is what Dr. James Houston calls "time evaluated," signifying instrumentation and purpose. "Man needs to see himself significant in the light of events, of kairos, seeing himself hopefully in the context of a greater reality that his own temporality, of chronos."

In other words, we need to spend the minutes and hours of our lives doing something meaningful, something with purpose and with lasting value. We shouldn't fritter away our days putting out the next fire that stems from our own poor planning. (ouch, that hits home with me- I have so often been guilty of this!)

We only have so much time in our lives. We should make every effort to spend it doing things that matter.

Grilled Chicken
Homemade tortillas

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