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No matter what stage of life you are in as a woman, busyness can swallow you whole. There are days, weeks, months even when you feel like you are just keeping your head above water.
Times when you go to bed and just before you close you eyes you think to yourself, “Man, today was so busy. I really wish I could have found sometime to just slow down.” You wake up the next day to the sound of the alarm clock and you don’t feel at all refreshed. Your feet hit the floor and you think, “After ______I will have some time to slow down and finally get to that _____” But the “after” arrives and something else quickly pushes its way in, demanding attention and forcing you to give up on that idea of getting back to whatever it is that you find refreshing.
For me, the worst season of busy so far in my life, one that seemed to wring me dry of all joy and delight in who I was and who I was becoming was when the children were little and I was dealing with several other major life stress issues.
Don’t get me wrong–I LOVE all three of my children and I am thankful for every minute I have had to pour into them. The season of dryness within me was not their fault. It wasn’t the low iron count’s fault either, or the hypothyroidism, or the fact that we had just that year moved 3000 miles away from every one we knew, or my mom announcing she had cancer, again–it was no one’s fault but my own.
I wasn’t making ME a priority. I wasn’t fighting for me. I wasn’t making time to fill myself up so I could fill up those three beautiful children day after day, despite their high demands on my time, despite my health problems, despite the loss of an established support system the move took from me that I desperately needed to help give me breathing room to emotionally deal with hearing my mother’s cancer was back.
Thankfully I turned things around. Oh, I am still BUSY–even CRAZY BUSY at times–but now I know how to be at rest in the busy, to be joyful in the busy, even to be thankful for the busy at times.
6 Things You Can Do To Make Time For You: Despite Being Crazy Busy
1. Stop Thinking That Me Time is Selfish
If you knew of a child who was becoming dehydrated and needed water but the mom was unwilling to refill his cup because she was too busy doing other things, you would think she was pretty selfish. Essentially, when you skip Me Time you are doing the same thing.
Me Time refills your love pitcher so that you can then give that love to your family in the way of service, kind words and actions. As the classic saying goes, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”
2. Cut out the Good to Make Room for the Best
So many things that fill our lives are good, but only few are best.
I want to challenge you this week to sit down and list everything you do each day and each week. What things are you involved in that are not serving your family well?
Writing such a list and then taking action, removing the good to make more room for the best is, of course, really hard. It means disappointing people that have depended on you to fill these roles. But are you really the best suited to be doing them? Do you serve with a heart of gratitude or attitude? If it is attitude, chances are it isn’t in your calling and not a “best” for you.
What are you doing simply to put on good appearances? What are you doing because everyone else is doing it? What are you doing simply because you were asked, but truly you have no talent in that area? H.A.R.D. questions. But necessary ones as you sift the good out of the best.
My list of best probably doesn’t match your list and that is okay. We are individuals.
Recommended reading: The Best Yes: Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands
3. Make Great use of the day’s Little Moments
True hours and hours are probably not going to open up in your day even if you do make time for yourself a priority and you weed out the good things and keep just the best things. However, what you will start to see more of is little moments.
Some call this “margin” time. When you’re not triple booked, there will be down time between events. Even when you are triple booked, however, most days contain a few small windows of time that most people waste.
No, I don’t mean you are wasting them by not filling them with household chores. I mean you are wasting them by not seeing them as mini refuel breaks. Think of them as snacks between meals. You still need large time to refuel sufficiently (meals) but daily breaks (snacks) provide us with needed nourishment for the time in between meals.
Did you find a few blissful moments in the bathroom where the children didn’t notice you left the room? Grab that magazine (that you leave in there for times like these) and enjoy an article or two before you are discovered. Or enjoy some extra time doing your makeup or styling your hair.
Cooking dinner? Listen to a podcast or uplifting music while you cook. Waiting for a child to finish up a gymnastic lesson and you don’t have another child in tow? Grab that smartphone out of your purse and read a few pages of a novel by your favorite author on the kindle app.
Mini Me Times can make a huge difference in your day. I know when I had little ones, if I could find one mini break sometime just before dinner hour hit, I was much more able to handle the stress of trying to make dinner with a toddler hanging on my leg and a baby on my hip.
Recommended reading: The Fringe Hours: Making Time For You
4. Be Okay With Good Enough
It is okay to go for a run even if the dirty laundry is high enough to be its own black diamond ski run. It is okay to sit down and enjoy your book even if the kitchen counters are NOT AT ALL looking like they just popped out of the reveal shots of your favorite remodel show. If you wait until all the housework is done first, then take time for your Me Time it will never happen.
Instead kick “I should really be doing_____” guilt to the curb with “good enough” standards. Having clean underwear for the next day is “good enough” the rest of the laundry takes a lesser priority than your daily run if that basic goal is met. Having a small spot of kitchen counters free for making dinner is “good enough.” Once it is found, give yourself permission to work on a sewing project while the baby naps.
Let go of perfect and grasp onto good enough. When you do a lot of precious Me Time can be found.
52 Weeks To A Simplified Home can help you toss the clutter in a time frame that won’t further overwhelm you.
5. Attack Clutter
A lot of precious Me Time can be wasted on clutter if you don’t attack it head on. Clutter hides items we need causing us to waste time looking for them–time that could be spent on personal refreshment.
Clutter needs to be dusted, moved, sorted, cared for. All time consuming. All eating into you time.
Recommended reading: Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind and Soul
See how our family handles assigning chores fairly now that our children are older and not home at the same time.
6. Teach Your Children to be Self Sufficient
Just how self sufficient you can teach your child to become is, of course, going to depend on their age. I am not expecting you to train your two year old how to scrub toilets, wash dishes and stain treat his own laundry.
However, your two year old is perfectly capable of helping you toss his toys into a toy bin at the end of the day. Your five year old can help you set the table. Your eight year old can dry the dishes. Your twelve year old can make a simple dinner for the family once and a while. Your fourteen year old can scrub those toilets for you now and again.
It does take time and patience to teach a child how to do household chores, but it is so worth the effort. My children are now 13, 15 and 20 and they now do their fair share of the housework–freeing me up to pursue more of the passions that refuel me.
Take some time this week to think of a few chores it might be time to give to the children. After all, by the time they leave your nest they need to be skilled in just what it takes to run their own.
7. Manage Your Time Well
You might think that you are doing the best you can to use your time well, but chances are that you can learn how to tweak your daily routine in such a way that you could get things done more efficiently and open up a time slot that could be devoted to an activity that refuels you.
Just recently I found 25 minutes of morning time without getting up a minute earlier simply by switching some tasks into a time slot that I wasn’t using efficiently.
Recommended video courses on this topic: Crystal Paine’s inexpensive Make Over Your Mornings course and her newer Make Over Your Evenings course will help you streamline your day so that your main priorities (which should include time to recharge your personal batteries) get done and the minor ones stop sucking up time they don’t deserve.
You are a priority! Now get yourself on the calendar and start living life with a fully charged battery.
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