Thursday, January 23, 2020

Goals and Routines: What Works for Timna

Timna shares about the shifts in her seasons of life.

At the start of each new year, I like to write a mission statement for myself in the front of my planner. Even though I don’t often read it, it clearly outlines my priorities and some of my goals. It defines my place and purpose before God, my role as a wife and a mom, my responsibility as a daughter to my aging parents, my place in the church and my duty as a homemaker.

I thrive on routines, but have not attained them. Most days we have ten people in our home, some who have their own schedules and my life flows around the people in my life.

In my earlier years of homemaking, I was influenced by the writings of home organizers such as Emilie Barnes, Donna Otto and Marla Cilley (FlyLady) and I am grateful for the things I learned from them. However, those women had different lifestyles and their methods did not totally work for me.

Our routines may reflect our values, but they do not define our priorities. We have to define our priorities and establish our routines based on that. It is easy to become overwhelmed when establishing priorities and routines. The discipline of a routine is good, and being consistent in one routine paves the way for the establishing new routines, but if they are too overwhelming, we tend to shy away from them.

My highest purpose is to bring glory to God, and in order to do that, I have to spend time in the Word and in prayer. Although I still need to grow in this, that routine is also a priority.

Right now, a daily shining of the bathroom and the kitchen sink is not my priority. I put higher priority on reading a story to a little seven-year-old who snuggles up beside me and lives a mixed up life between our house and his mom's house.

Making the bed in the morning gives me a sense of order and peace and is something my husband appreciates. I love to walk for my health but have gotten derailed because of cold weather. Cleaning my house gets moved up on the list of priorities if it shows too much negligence because God is a God of order and beauty, and I want our home to be a haven of rest and refreshment.

My routines shift through the various seasons of life. Probably some routines that get a lick and a promise now, will receive more attention once my house empties and my focus shifts. I often pray that God will give me wisdom to know the most important thing to do in every moment.
-Timna Hooley

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Goals and Routines: What Works for Kathryn

Kathyrn,a busy mom with young children, shares her current goals.
Prioritize quiet time with God by waking up before the children. I can listen to the Bible while I dress or get breakfast ready, but that should not replace prayer and studying paper pages of The Book of all books.
Love the children—enough to train them. Child training is more important than my housework. If I read or play with the children (ages 4, 2, and 7 months) before digging into work they can’t do, they require less discipline.
Do at least one project each day, in addition to child care and cooking. Laundry counts, oh yes, it does. A to-do list helps me remember the little things I need to do regularly, and checking off tasks is rewarding.
Divide deep-cleaning goals into increments. For example, our office and laundry room requires these tasks: dust or wash ceiling and walls; move and clean under the wash and dryer; ditto for two desks, a laundry cabinet, two file cabinets, a china hutch, and an armoire; wash doors and hardwood floor; wash curtain and window. I put each item on my to-do list on my phone. Tasks for each room recur as often as I think necessary—perhaps in two months or even years later.
Add “sew something” to my to-do list. While I work up to this goal, if you need to borrow an Activa 130 sewing machine, I know where one lurks. 
- Kathryn Swartz

Monday, January 20, 2020

Goals and Routines: What Works for Sarah

Sarah shares what is working for her in a new season of life. 

This is a relevant subject to me. I’ve been thinking about it lately—our family is entering a new (and wonderful) stage. My “baby” is two years old, and my oldest daughter is becoming a responsible young lady. That means I have more freedom, besides someone who can go ahead with housework even when I’m doing something else. However, the two oldest do youth activities now, so my schedule sometimes needs to become one that accommodates theirs.
Along with a new stage comes a new kind of busyness, new joys, new challenges. I like to think I’m the kind of person whose motto is, “Wherever you are, be all there.” So I try to live in the moment, and I look forward to the unfolding of this new stage in much the same way as I looked forward to watching my firstborn’s developments as he grew. Life is an adventure. I can tell already that I will love this stage. I love the fact that the older children are becoming less like dependents and more like friends. I love not having a tiny baby and a huge diaper bag to haul around wherever I go.
Goals and routines have several specific names to me: personal relationship with God, building quality relationships with each individual personality among my children, and writing life. Hopefully, in that order.
My personal relationship with God, of course, is kept up by regular personal worship. Most of my mothering life, it has worked for me to have my devotions first thing in the morning, unless a baby was unusually uncooperative, in which case I tried to make sure it happened sometime during the  day. I love the verse that says God “will gently lead those that are with young.” He has given us these precious, unpredictable, demanding, marvelous souls, and He understands the demands on a mother’s time. So I know He understood about the days when my personal devotions just didn’t happen. However, I also know that when I skip my devotions, it is I that suffers, not God. What I like about this stage is that I have more freedom and empty arms to keep a notebook with my Bible and copy the Bible as I read it. I have been doing this for several months now, and I love how it forces me to really think about what I’m reading.
As the children grow and change, so do their needs. Right now, my biggest concern is that I’m somehow missing it with connecting to the hearts of my “middle children.” Actually, that has been a niggling fear ever since I got to the stage where we had a “middle child.” The older children become people in their own right, secure in their place as “the oldest ones.” The little ones are dependent and cute, and obviously need Mom. The middle children—well, they’re a part of the family, but they get caught between criticism from the older ones and Mom assuming that they can pretty much take care of themselves. Do I see their needs? Are they important enough to me that I’m willing to be intentional about meeting them?
My writing life is a rather new development for me, and the one I’m still grappling with the most to fit it in in ways that are healthy. In the afternoons when the scholars are gone and the little ones are sleeping, I have a quiet hour or two that I try to use wisely. Sometimes I read, and sometimes I write. Last spring, when I had lots of sewing to do, yet badly wanted to keep my tryst with the computer, plus had a long list of books I wanted to read and too little time to read, besides wanting to shed a few extra pounds, I made it a point to do at least some of each every day. I have a planner, which I use much like a bullet journal, and for several weeks, I had a list—sew, read, write, exercise. I made a check beside each thing for every day when I made it happen, whether it was five minutes or ninety. 
When the children wake up, or arrive home from school, or come in from outside, I try to meet them with eye contact and actually hearing them when they talk. I try not to let computer time compromise our sacred tradition of reading aloud for awhile before they go to bed.
I pray about each of these things a lot. God cares about my relationship with Him, my connections with those closest to my heart, and my writing bringing Him glory without compromising what’s most important.
-Sarah J. Martin

Friday, January 17, 2020

Q&A - Book Lists

For years I have recorded the books that I read. I love looking back over those lists. I just kept a  simple title-and-author list in my planner. Sometimes if a book was especially enjoyed I placed a star beside it. If I wanted to remember not to read it again, I might make a note of what I found offensive.

This list works, but I wish I kept a few more details. Which books did I read to my children? Which were audio books? Why did this book deserve a star?

I've considered using something like GoodReads to record my reading, but I hesitate to sign up for one more potential on-line time waster. I don't want to start a system that steals my reading time.

So here is my questions for you.

Do you record the books you read?

Do you use GoodReads, a bullet journal, or some other tool for your lists?

What information have you found helpful to note?

My" Books I Read" is only one list. I have others. "Books to Read."" Books to Look for at a Used Bookstore." "Books Set in the Middle Ages." "Favorite Picture Books." And many more. These lists can be found on documents in my computer, scrawled in notebooks, and scrunched on scraps of paper at the bottom of my purse.

I know. This is only a problem for a Book Geek.

But maybe some of you will admit to be Book-Geek-List-Makers and tell me how you manage your lists.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Winner of Patrick of Ireland

Thanks for all who entered the giveaway and shared your favorite read alouds. The winner of Patrick of Ireland is

Mary Beth at richlyblest

You can purchase your own copy of Patrick of Ireland at Scroll Publishing. Thanks, Scroll, for doing this giveaway.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Goals and Routines: What Works for Darletta

Thanks, Darletta, for sharing how you have learned flexibility through a challenging season of life.

I love schedules and routines—probably too much.

I grew up in an out-lying community, so almost every time we wanted to be involved in an event, we had to plan ahead and prepare early. Time-consciousness grew on me during my sixteen years of teaching in a multi-grade classroom where I sliced my days into fifteen-minute segments.

When I married into a ready-made family, I thought enforcing routine was part of being a good mom. But God wanted me to learn flexibility. To fit into a household where the word "hurry" induces stress and anxiety, I had to rearrange my priorities.

I still enjoy setting goals for myself and seeing how many of them I can meet, but I can't expect as much of children who are neurologically underdeveloped. Since these children do benefit from the security of a schedule, I am thankful the bus arrives at 7:48 each school morning, but I no longer panic if a boy is still in the bathroom at 7:40. When the bus returns at 4:10 in the afternoon, I try to relax into a less exacting mode. Pushing too hard does not help us survive the four hours of chores, supper, and homework.

At this point in our parental work, we find it necessary to give relationships more weight than routines. 

All moms know the challenge of organizing a family, but here's my personal kudos to the ones who orient their schedules around high maintenance children. "Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not break."
- Darletta Martin

Monday, January 13, 2020

Goals and Routines: What Works for Laurie

Laurie shares with us one goal she is making for herself.

Schedules—why do I cringe when I hear that? But goals? I love goals, dreams, and lists.

Schedules are important. Imagine how hodgepodge life would be if we all did whatever we want whenever we wanted without discipline. But I wonder if sometimes we put too much emphasis on keeping a schedule. Trying too hard to be scheduled can cause extra stress. If my husband is late for supper or the baby has a fever and needs held for hours on laundry day, the strain is much worse if I am schedule driven rather than schedule guided. However, if I haven’t done laundry for days because I didn’t feel like it and now we’re out of clean clothes, the day holding a sick baby is much more stressful.

Years ago I admired our neighbor family for their scheduled, disciplined life. During one January snowstorm, our barn roof came crashing down from the heavy snow. Our herd of dairy cows was trapped beneath, and we had no idea of possible injuries or fatalities. My husband asked our neighbor for help. The neighbor said he was just sitting down for lunch and would come as soon as he was finished.

Suddenly, his schedule didn’t seem very nice to me.

We need to find rest midway. And that is probably different for different people. Personally, I confess I need a lot of improvement. When our children were young, the school schedule nine months out of the year helped to keep us on track. Usually by the time school started again in the fall we were happy for the way it forced it’s schedule on us again. But for us who no longer have school children or for those who homeschool, the “school schedule” safety net isn’t there.

I think the best place to start (for me, at least) is to have a scheduled bedtime. And this is something that I really need to work on right now. If I have a regular, early bedtime, I feel better and my whole next day goes better.

No, I still don’t like schedules so I don’t want to think of scheduling an earlier bedtime. But I do like goals so my goal is to get to bed earlier tonight. And then, because I will start my day earlier tomorrow, it will help me reach my next goal—to get to bed earlier tomorrow night!
- Laurie Lehman - Washington

What about you? Do you find it important to have a bedtime for yourself?

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