This guest post was written by the first “mommy blogger” I fell in love with, during my first fragile months as a new mom. Her name is Jeanne Harrison from Loving My Lot and I am so honored to have her share some “real-life” wisdom with us when it comes to creating a schedule.
How To Create A Schedule (Or Rhythm) For Your Week
Several years ago, I had some medical students over for dinner. Sometime during the evening while everyone was milling around the kitchen, one of them noticed my weekly schedule up on the fridge. Let me just say—it was a masterpiece. Color-coded, broken into thirty-minute increments, with all aspects of my life present and accounted for.
The medical student exclaimed, “Hey, look! We just learned about this in our psych rotation. It’s called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder!”
Okay. So it was a little over the top. That schedule lived on my fridge for months. In case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t follow it. That was my dirty little secret. But it was just too pretty to take down. I loved everything it represented. Order, rhythm, accomplishment, purpose.
When Rebekah asked me to blog about how to create a schedule for her homemaking series, I felt those same words bubble up inside of me. Yes! I thought. Creating a schedule is so worthwhile, especially for a SAHM whose days are a blank canvas before her. But where do you even start? How do you know which activities to choose and which to cut? And how do you make sure the schedule you create is one you can actually live out? I want to suggest three principles that can help answer those questions.
1. The first is this: build your schedule around your priorities. It may seem obvious, but it doesn’t happen by accident. What happens by accident is we build our schedule around what’s “got to get done,” and then we groan in frustration when a friend’s crisis interrupts grocery day. Or we build our schedule around all the things we “wish we could do” until we’ve got ten thousand commitments and not enough sanity to fulfill them. Or we don’t build any schedule at all, and we fly by the seat of our pants until we collapse into bed on Friday and wonder why we didn’t spend any time with the kids this week.
We need to start with our priorities. What do we value the most? What needs to be lifted off the bottom of our schedule, dusted off, and placed back on top? Is it a commitment to grow in our relationship with God? Is it a thriving, healthy marriage? Enough time (and sanity) to invest richly in our kids? Meaningful connections with friends? Evangelistic encounters with lost people?
For me, the answer is yes. Yes, yes, yes to all of the above. Those five values are among my top priorities. So as I evaluate my schedule, I need to ask myself: Are these values “showing up” in my minutes? And if they’re not, how can I reorder my schedule so that they are? Let me give you an example. Because my husband is a pastor, he’s off work on Friday and Saturday. One of the ways I try to build my schedule around my family is by busting my tail on Thursday. I make sure the laundry’s done and the pantry’s stocked, so that I’m all theirs over the weekend. Friday morning is sacred. While the girls are at school, I commit to nothing except spending time with my husband. Some days I’m helping him get things done at work, and other days we’re sipping coffee on the back deck. But barring extraordinary circumstances, I don’t schedule anyone or anything for Friday mornings. I build my schedule around my priorities.
The beautiful thing about orienting your schedule around your priorities, is it prevents the schedule from enslaving you. So what if little Lucy interrupts “dishwashing time” to talk about what’s troubling her? She trumps dishes. Your values drive your schedule. Not vice versa. As you build your schedule around the things that matter the most to you, you’ll begin to recognize which commitments need to go. But hold on just a second! Before you cross off everything “fun and relaxing” in light of more noble pursuits, let me share my second piece of advice.
2. Don’t forget to factor in time for yourself. Pouring into every person and animal that crosses your threshold while starving yourself, isn’t noble; it’s foolish. We need a little blank space in our lives. We need room to breathe, and rest, and take care of ourselves. It will make us such better wives, and moms, and servants of Christ!
So what do you enjoy? What re-charges those batteries? Reading? Watching a favorite show? Baking, blogging, jogging, scrapbooking…factor a little of that into your schedule, and guard it! Don’t feel guilty for saying, “Sorry, I have a prior commitment Tuesday evening.” You don’t have to tell them that the commitment is with Pandora and your bathtub. It still counts! It’s a valid commitment. You know why? Because you count! You are a valid person, and you’re worth investing in.
3. Finally, don’t be such a stickler. It sounds backwards, but I believe we’re more likely to maintain a schedule in the long run, if we give ourselves the freedom to scrap it every now and then. The pursuit of perfection always leads to burnout. (Hello, pretty little schedule on the fridge!) Order your chores so that they serve your family. Plan your week so that you’re investing in the Kingdom. Carve out margin for yourself. But also give yourself the grace to say, “I couldn’t stick to it this week. I’ll start over again next week.”
It’s not the most profound advice, but this is where I’ve landed over the past few years. If you came over for dinner tomorrow, you wouldn’t find a schedule on my fridge. But there is one in my brain. There is a rhythm and order to my life—imperfect and sometimes messy—but there just the same! And by God’s grace, this schedule reflects my values more than it has in the past. And by God’s grace, it includes taking care of myself. And by God’s grace, it’s allowed to be a work in progress. Just like me.
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[Join the discussion on the Free Spirit Homemaker Series: How To Maintain Your Home, Without Losing Your Soul! Check out these posts if you missed them: What Is The Purpose Of Homemaking?, Why Free-Spirits Are Naturally Terrible Homemakers, and Introducing The Free-Spirit Homemaker Series . Share your own thoughts in the comment section, or visit my Barren to Beautiful Facebook page.]