You’ve heard it before: “How do you do it all? How do you fit it all in?”
It’s as if there is some mysterious formula that requires just the right equation, just the right planning technique, and voilà! All will be well, children will be at peace, schedules will magically coordinate, and Mom will be calm.
Oh, that it would work that way! We have a big crew at our house – eight children, ages one to fifteen – and other than “Oh, you must be so patient!” and “Wow, you must be really organized!” the comments I hear most often marvel at how I do it all.
In some ways, it’s quite simple. The answer is “I don’t”. In the years when we had all little ones, we did almost nothing outside of the home, and now that we have some little ones, some big ones, and some in-between, we still do very little outside the home. We have a Thursday morning co-op and right now we’re in the middle of two months of weekly play rehearsals for my oldest daughter.
For us, that’s enough for running around outside the home on school days. We make a point of having company on a frequent basis, so we are always practicing hospitality, but for me, that’s much easier than running from activity to activity.
Here are the three big “E’s” that will remind you (and me!) how to “fit it all in”:
1. Eliminate – The more you run around, the less time you have. The more you stuff in your day, the less peace you’ll have at home. So just start saying “no”. Not only will it make more peace and serenity in your home, but it will also teach your children to manage their time wisely. The Bible in no way commands us to keep up with the Joneses and fill our schedules with as many extra-curricular activities as possible. My goal is to spend the large majority of our time at home. For regular commitments, we only have one morning or afternoon during the school week that has extra activities. It requires that I say “no” to many things, but I rarely wish we had more on our schedule.
2. Eternity – An old hymn has the words, “With eternity’s values in view, dear Lord.” What a beautiful approach to life. I want my life and time to count for things of eternal value. This in itself helps me decide whether or not an activity or program or curriculum is worth “fitting in”. Likewise, sometimes academics have to be set aside to focus on training Godly character in our children. That’s what will truly matter for eternity.
3. Each Day – Every day God gives us is a gift! You’ve heard this mantra before, but why not apply it to how you spend your time? Sometimes I like to consider whether or not I will lie on my deathbed regretting something. Will I regret not assigning more phonics worksheets? Seems unlikely. Will I regret it if I don’t spend loving, valuable time with my husband and children? Absolutely.
I will never be able to fit it all in by other people’s standards. But I can make time for whatever is truly important! It’s a work in progress and the psalmist said it best when he said, “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply to Thee a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
Now that’s true time management.
Gwen Toliver is the wife of John, and the mother of five girls and three boys. The Toliver family serves with Wycliffe Associates – volunteers committed to accelerating Bible translation around the world. Her book, Seed Sowers: Gospel-Planting Adventures, is a collection of true, modern-day, missionary adventure stories. Seed Sowers is the result of two years worth of her missionary interviews. Her author blog is SeedSowersTheBook.com and her family/ministry blog is ToliversToTexas.com.