Monday, February 9, 2009

Why am I so sweaty?

We've all heard the saying, "Don't sweat the small stuff." Or how about "Major in the majors." However you phrase it, it's all about priorities. And priorities seem to be something I'm still struggling with after 12 years of being a SAHM. I think I must really be "sweating" some of the "small stuff," because there never seems to be time to "major in the majors!" I've struggled with time management on and off for years, and a sense of discontent with the quality of my days continues to stir in me. The need to prioritize hit me right between the eyes after recently reading this quote:

"Those who make the worst of their time most complain about its shortness." - La Bruyere

I don't know who La Bruyere is, but he seems to be talking about me! I constantly feel like there's not enough time to do all the things I must do, let alone the things I'd really like to do. So what I'm setting out to discover is whether the primary problem is in my expectations--attempting or hoping to be able to do more than is realistic; or in my execution--the way I schedule and use my time on a daily basis given the basic details of my life (several kids including both older kids and an infant, a busy husband, my own personality, etc.). I realize that I tend to rebel against being scheduled and structured because my "all or nothing" thinking often leads to frustration when I can't do things as well as I'd like (which is pretty much always) or to being hyper-focused on one project or task while letting all other things fall by the wayside.

Along with that, I'm wrestling with how much of my struggle is tied to my lack of consistent time spent with God. I'd love if there were a formula promising that an intimate relationship with God would result in perfect wisdom for how to live daily life. While I know that formula doesn't exist, I do know from seasons in my life that being more connected with God and His will for me somehow lessens the "sweating" I do over "small stuff. The song "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" comes to mind:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face,

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,

In the light of His glory and grace.

(Anyone know why suddenly everything is double-spaced and won't go back to single?!?)

So I'm seeking to more fully focus on Jesus and follow His guidance for how to use each day rather than to be consumed with making lists and schedules and plotting out my time in my own human strength. His ways are not our ways, you know.

All that being said, there remains a practical side to living this life and especially to doing the SAHM thing well. In an attempt to make my external reality line up more closely with my internal intentions, I think I need to explore what in my life is truly necessary, what's pretty important, what needs to go, and decide with Jesus' guidance how I will discipline myself to live a life that holds true to what I value. Here is an initial list to work from:

The Majors

  • General care for kids/family


Food prep. and grocery shopping,

Acceptably tidy house for the sake of function

Consistent naps for Tori

(Honestly, this category alone takes up pretty much all my time....)

  • Family time

Debriefing after school

Supervision of homework and chores

Bedtime prayers and talks

Weekend activities

  • Time with the Lord

Praying the Divine Offices

Bible study lessons

Listening/conversational prayer

Corporate/musical worship

The I'd Like To's

  • Thoroughly cleaned house on a regular basis, especially bathrooms
  • Declutter and organization
  • Off-duty/alone time for me
  • Exercise
  • Hobbies - reading, blogging/journaling, scrapbooking, writing
  • More quality time with Steve

The Small Stuff

  • Spotless house, including kids' rooms (I don't even attempt this, but I think it's a self-imposed unrealistic expectation that causes stress)
  • Blog reading (or at least the high frequency of it)
  • Excess recreational internet ("window shopping," unnecessary "research," etc.)
  • Hmmm.... there must be more here, but the 2nd and 3rd bullet points are definitely my major time-wasters

I'm not sure where to go from here, but it's a start. I'll be revisiting this post frequently to think about and pray for direction.

UPDATE: I had further confirmation that I need to figure some of this out as Caleb and I were talking tonight about the tasty cookies our neighbor makes (he was trying to tell me hers are better than mine without offending me). He said she is always doing "extra-terrestrial" things. I suggested that perhaps he meant "extra-curricular." He said she just spends time doing what she wants to rather than always working like I am. That makes me sad, because that's exactly how I feel, too. The thing is, the only reason he thinks I'm working all the time is because I never get anything done, so I'm always trying to get something done! I don't want his memories of me to be that I spent more time working than just living--especially if my house is still going to be this dirty!