Monday, November 17, 2008

Never Enough Time

Since I’m a stay-at-home mom, I have all day to clean and cook and take care of small home repairs, pay bills, do laundry, and create decorative centerpieces out of pipe cleaners, pinecones and spray paint.

So why is it when 10:00 PM arrives, I look around at the house, the dishes piled in the sink, the stack of paperwork awaiting my attention, the cereal spilled on the floor, and the still unfolded clothes, and I think to myself, “What did I do all day?” I’ve seriously considered the possibility that there’s something interrupting the time space continuum in my house; a force field of sorts. Most days I go, go, go to the point of forgetting to take a minute to stop and eat. So, why is everything in disarray come bedtime? Where did my time go?

I often wish there were just a couple more hours in the day. I’m always saying that I don’t have enough time to do all I have to do. Too often I feel as if I’m drowning in a sea of chores that I will never, ever be able to accomplish. And I know I’m not alone. In fact, during worship service last month, we had a drama about this very thing. And the other day, when I felt like I was drowning, my good friend Michelle, forwarded me a devotional on this very subject. It came at just the right time and was a good reminder to me. I love when things happen at just the right time and give you the inspiration you need to make it through the day without screaming at the kids too much, or drinking a bottle glass of wine, or curling up in a fetal position while you rock back and forth sucking your thumb.

In this devotional, Rick Warren writes, “We all have the same amount of time – 168 hours a week. The only question is, “How am I investing it?” We want to learn to invest it wisely so that we won’t be like the man in Isaiah 49:4, who said, “I have used up my strength but have accomplished nothing” (GNT).

Ain’t that the truth! To accomplish this, he suggests taking inventory of how you spend your time. Where is all your time going? You might think you only play a couple minutes of solitaire on the computer, but when you actually take note of your starting and stopping time, you might be surprised to find that you spend an hour doing it. You may think you spend 4 hours a day changing diapers (believe me, I know it sometimes feels like it!) but if you actually added up that time, you might be shocked to learn that only 6 minutes a day were dedicated to diaper changing.

He also says to eliminate things that aren’t necessary. What you’re spending time on may not be a “bad” thing, but is it necessary? Don’t mess around with stuff that doesn’t need to be done. Concentrate on the things that have to be done first. Yeah, yeah, this is much easier said than done. Sometimes it’s difficult to log off the ole computer and pay your bills. Sometimes we just want to sit down for a minute and watch Oprah even though we know we should be planning dinner or running errands or folding laundry. And of course, little kids at home can foul up your best-laid plans. You plan on cleaning the bathroom, but instead, thanks to your little ones, you end up scrubbing pudding off the ceiling, or cleaning dirty footprints off the kitchen counter, or giving impromptu baths because the kids thought it would be a good idea to decorate their hair with maple syrup and baby powder. Not that any of these things have ever happened to me…

Anyway, it’s always a good idea to stop, take a deep breath, and think about how you’re spending your time. I believe God gives us enough time to accomplish what He wants us to do. If you aren’t finishing all your tasks, ask yourself, “Is this really what I should be doing right now?” Maybe it’s time to eliminate some of those time robbers. And don’t feel guilty about it. The next time someone asks you to head a committee or bake 4000 cookies for the bake sale, or organize a fundraiser, feel free to say, “no”. If it’s not something you have the time for right now, it’s okay to decline. You have to do what you have to do. And it’s ok. Unless, of course, it’s your kids calling to you from the other side of the house, saying, “Moooom, can you come here a minute? I think the toilet’s exploding!” In that case, I suggest you stop the important things you’re doing and go. Very fast.

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M said...

Dawn, I absolutely think you were inspired to write this.
I honestly said sadly to my husband as he came home and entered our tornado of a house, "I'm sorry you have to come home to this. I don't know what I do all day!"
Thank you for this post! I know my proporities are my children and teaching them about God, but everything else seems to steal the day away!

Michelle said...

I read the first paragraph and started giggling madly. Out loud. The second paragraph made me feel better.

And the last one? Ummm I have the animal shelter that I volunteered for 10 years starting in college's annual CARE Faire the Sat after Thanksgiving and it's the cookie walk person's last year so I promised to bake a TON of cookies AND I'm helping do the Gift Card sale for the wee oness' special needs preschool and I'm working and doing choir and ... oh yeah, I only have two kids and nothing to complain about ;) New idea: I'm baking the cookies WITH the kids. Maybe when Mister Man has a playdate tomorrow, we can all do them together. Hmmm. Thanks, Dawn!

RefreshMom said...

I soooo agree! I'm pretty good at not taking on too many tasks that lead to others expectations of me (I don't want to be the one to let someone down and I know my limits in that area). My weakness really is choosing the best over the easiest. It's hard to get off the computer and tackle the rooms that need re-organizing or the clothes that are too small for anyone and need to be passed along. I do a little better at stopping to play "rock rock" with Boo (a game we've played since he was 4 months old and is training him to be a champion water-skiier when the day comes) or read with Bug. Even so, I know I'm not balanced in all of it.

Something to keep working toward...

Us3JKJ said...

Thanks for the great post Dawn - that, too, came at just the right time when I needed it. I am sitting here at 1:40 am thinking of all the work I still have to do, chores to be done, packing for me and the kids, etc and still going to find time to SLEEP before they wake up and muck it all up again. I decided to check to see if you had updated your blog and there was just the message I needed. Thank you for being an inspiration and reminding us that we all have these issues. I'm so very happy I found your blog!

Rick said...

It's nice to read you post and not find anyone sick, broken, or up chucking. Quite refreshing in fact. I think that I can sleep better tonight. I worry about you so.

This Crazy Thing Called Motherhood said...

Earlier this year, some of the gals at my church did a Bible study with the book "Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World" and it talked about that same sort of thing....the issue of time management, not trying to "do it all", taking time for what's truly important and letting some of the other stuff go, remembering to focus on God, etc.

I write all this as my hair soaks my back because I just took a hot bath while neglecting the pile of laundry in my bedroom that is becoming rather daunting these days. Ugh.

But at this moment, the relaxing bath was a definite necessity for me. Its nice to give myself that break so I'm not sitting in my hot water, running 'to do' lists in my head and adding to my stress, instead of relaxing while daydreaming of white sandy beaches and drinks with umbrellas! :)

Thanks for this post; it was a good read!

Anonymous said...

I love this sentiment - my mothers motto. She sure has her priorities sorted;

"So I sat down with the children
And played and laughed and read
And if the doorbell doesn't shine
Their eyes will shine instead
For when at times I'm forced to chose
The one job or the other
I want to be a Housewife
But, first I'll be a mother"
from a poem by Angela Rose Black

Magda said...

Dawn, I totally agree with you!!! It is just overwhelming (shoot, and I only have 2 kids!!!!) I know others have suggested this to you before, but I'll go ahead and do it again: have you considered having a maid/cleaning service maybe once every couple of weeks or so? I know, I know, you probably think it's not a priority money-wise, but it is SOOOO WORTH it!!! It makes your life easier in so many ways. Seriously. I suggest giving it a try maybe a couple of times and see if it makes a difference.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn, What a beautifull post! That's all I have time to write :) Kristine in Michigan.

Tinkerella said...

My husband was recently laid off, and now that he is home all day with me and the baby he admitted that he doesn't understand how a whole day goes by and he doesn't get much accomplished...he thought I was just lazy!

Connor & Hudson's Mom said...

Thanks Dawn. I needed a devotional for a meeting at church tonight and you just gave me one!

mommytoalot said...

Well..i totally understand where you are coming from.
Seems to me though, that time plays tricks, like why does the hour before bedtime seem to drag on forever, but the hour before the kids get home is gone in a blink of an eye.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

It can be so hard to keep our priorities straight with so many people and tasks tugging at us. I highly recommend Flylady to help get the basics done.

Nancy said...

Thank you so much for this post. Just yesterday I said that I feel so overwhelmed right at the moment and can't seem to get on top of it all. Thanks for the encouragement1

K-Rissa said...

I agree with you! Where does the time go? I have a 3 1/2 month old and am always astounded that I accomplish very little during the day.

Amy said...

Thank you for such a beautiful post. It helped me start my day with a fresh perspective.

Here's a SSO question: I've been worried about you. You mentioned having marital problems. I'm sorry to pry...are things okay? Do you regret ever mentioning it?

I want you to know, I've been praying for you. I hope the vacation helped. I just hope things are better.

Patois said...

My main problem is deciding what doesn't need to get done.

Beth said...

Don't know why that happens? This is why (and incidentally, while preparing to comment to you I, after reading about the muffin, remembered I hadn't fed my 3 year old yet, went into the kitchen, saw the laundry baskets, threw in a load, then returned to the computer).

If You Give a Mom a Muffin

If you give a mom a muffin,
She'll want a cup of coffee to go with it.
So she'll pour herself some.
The coffee will get spilled by her three year old.
She'll wipe it up.

Wiping the floor, she will find some dirty socks.
She'll remember she has to do some laundry.
When she puts the laundry in the washer,
She'll trip over some snow boots and bump into the freezer.
Bumping into the freezer will remind her she has to plan supper for tonight.

She will get out a pound of hamburger.
She'll look for her cookbook. (101 Things To Make With a Pound of
The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail.
She will see the phone bill which is due tomorrow.
She will look for the checkbook.

The checkbook is in her purse that is being dumped out by her two year old.
She'll smell something funny.
She'll change the two year old.
While she is changing the two year old the phone will ring. (Of course!)
Her five year old will answer it and hang up.

She remembers that she wants to phone a friend to come over for coffee on
Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup.
She will pour herself some.
And chances are,
If she has a cup of coffee,
Her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it.

Written by Kathy Fictorie

Based on If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

MaBunny said...

HAHA that same time continuum is lost in my house too!

Heather said...

Thanks for the post, Dawn. I should try that keeping a log of where my time goes - if I can find time to do it!

Feisty Irish Wench said...

I was recently a co-facilitator for a Ministry of Mothers Sharing group. One of our topics was stress, and identifying what stresses us most. Several of the participants said that time was a problem for them. I shared something with them, that took me a long time to learn myself:

When you say yes to something, ultimately you're also saying no to another thing. Look at exchange that you're making, and determine its impact on your family (which, as mothers, is our primary ministry anyway). Then decide if that impact is worth the division of your time and energy.

I also have been following the lessons of FLYLady ( and while my house doesn't look like I follow her instructions, I'm no longer a shrew, and I can find someplace to start.

Six-Pack Momma said...

Thanks. I needed that.

Michelle Kemper Brownlow said...

Thanks for the SHOUT OUT, SISTER! I loved this post!!!

How inspirational! are BOTH....inspirational and HYSTERICAL! Makes you pretty balanced, I would say!!


Mendi S said...

I totally get what you're saying. I stayed home with my son until he was three years old. It seemed like I never had enough time to do anything, and what I did start never got finished. And to top it all off, I had no adults to talk to for most of the day and Sesame Street on the brain. I think you must be part goddess to be able to do it with six kids. I tip my hat to you!

Anonymous said...

Loved your blog today - something I can definitely identify with! I just finished a book called, "Side Tracked Home Executives" - that deals with this exact issue! It is a hilarious read by two Christian sisters/moms - so even if you never implement the "get it done" system - you'll get several chuckles along the way. But, if you do implement the system...maybe there will be fewer piles left at the end of the day. BTW - this system is NOT for BOs (Born Organizers). Good Luck!

Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] said...

You're now officially my devotional. Thanks for the talk. Now I'm off to fold laundry!

Ruth said...

You have 6 somethings disrupting the space-time continuum! With all the things you do for your kids (school, activities, doctors appoinments, etc) you're not home all day, you're a chauffer all day! I only have one and I've long since decided that as long as she's healthy, happy, and moderately well adjusted the house can look like a tornado hit it. I'm not a stay-at-home mom so I pick what matters most. Do I spend some time with my princess reading a book or do I do the dishes? The dishes don't out-grow story time but she will so I got a dish washer. Does she get her cuddle time or do I fold the laundry? The laundry will still be there long after she's grown up. Besides, so as long as it's washed the clothes can be pulled from the basket and put on. Do we talk about how her day went or do I pay the bills? The bills come every month but she's growing up and soon I'll get grunts and mono-syllable answers instead of conversation. I'll take the conversation how, I have to store it up to get me through her fast approaching teen-age years. The bills will get paid eventually.

After I get her in bed at night I'll pay the bills and fold the laundry or maybe not. If I need some me time to relax, recharge, or re-focus I don't feel guilty about it, even if it involves playing on the computer, watching TV, or reading a book. If I'm not up to my best then I can't be there to help her be her best.

Besides, I don't want her to believe she has to be Superwoman. You know the type: everything must be perfect (perfect career, perfect children, immaculate & perfect house, perfect marriage) and I must do it all in order to be considered a good parent or a successful adult. Too many women bought into that Superwoman model and ended up hating themselves when they couldn't pull it off. We aren't Superwomen, we're human. So, we'll have a messy house sometimes, naughty children occasionally, or marital issues once in a while. That's okay, we'll survive and be stronger for it.

Heather said...

Thanks so much for writting about this right now. I've totally been struggling with the same thing and wondering how I have so little time! About a month ago, my husband got a great job so I was able to quit mine and be a stay at home mom again. I am MUCH busier now than when I was working. There is no place I'd rather be (usually :)) but it's easy to feel like I've worked hard with nothing to show for it. I guess my reward will have to be eternal. Until then, thanks for the encouragement!

Amy said...

I sooo needed this post today!! I'm logging off the computer and getting something done during naptime today...Thanks for the kick in the butt!

Slack said...

Please remember though that you also need to take some time for yourself. Sometimes it's okay to get lost in Solitare b/c you've gone non-stop all day caring for kids, doing dishes, and being everything for everybody else.

Cheryl said...

Great post, Dawn! A very good lesson. I am often aware of my need to be a better steward of my time, talents, and finances. Thanks for the fun and entertaining reminder. :-)

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

And you should have ended that post with, "And when they ask why you can't help with the bake sale, you can all say, 'Because Dawn Said So!'"


Great reminders!

I know I spend 160 of those 168 hours on the computer.

The Bertone's said...

Time, does seem to fly by most of the time huh? I often ask myself the same thing... What do I do all day??? I think it is an age old question. Though, your inspirational post, was so nice to hear. I think, I will stop and see what non essential things I am doing. Thanks!

Brigid said...


mommeeof9 said...

There are lots of things I do that I don't need to do. I make real food, not cook prepared/frozen stuff, mend clothes, sort laundry, clean bathrooms, etc. My kids could all do these chores, if I took the time to teach them. If I try to do anything before my big kids get home from school, the youngest 2 mess as fast as I can clean...

Candi said...

All the Mary's think Martha is too busy and all the Martha's think Mary is lazy, but we're all just serving from where we are, and that's all He asks of us. My mother had this poem on her kitchen wall from as far back as I can remember and it came to mind as I read this. You can read it here:
I don't know how to make it a link - but maybe you can doctor it before you publish it, if you like. God bless you for your devoted heart - to your God, your family, and your fans. I appreciate how well you live out being spread so thin! My prayers are with you.

Shellie said...

Oh, didn't you know there is a time warp and kids are on a different schedule? A much faster schedule than us, so one minute to us is like an hour to them? It explains how they can do an hour's worth of damage while you're taking a 5 minute shower. As for the message, it is exactly the same thing I have been thinking about and trying to work on. It is hard because I am simply time impaired.

Summer said...

What a fantastic post! Thanks for sharing when I really needed it. I have a 3 year old, a 2 year old, and am 8 months pregnant and I cannot, cannot, cannot get everything done. I appreciate you!

Ronda said...

I was thinking the same thing--where does the time go? I was tired of having a to do list with very little checked off at the end of the day. The other day I wrote down every little thing that I accomplished. It was quite a long list, even though it didn't include the vacuuming & dusting.

Thanks, Dawn!

Christine said...

Thanks for the sentiments. I needed that....and that's all the time I have to write :0)

Chris said...

Oh Dawn!!! I love this post!!! I haven't read all the comments because (snort, giggle) I don't have time!!! LOL!!!

I will be linking this post in my blog post today. You said it all so well!!

Shelly S., Nebraska said...

This is a great post! So insightful!! I get that same Rick Warren devotional and LOVE it. It is short enough to fit into my computer time, and long enough to inspire me to think, and I too was moved by the recent topic on priorities.

You know that saying, "if you want something done, ask a busy person"? Yep. That's most of us. Busy. There is a REASON God gives 6 kids (or 4 or 5 or 8 or 10)to some people and not others, and there is a REASON that God gives ADHD kids (or CP or cancer or Down's or LD) to some people and not others, and there is a REASON that some houses are messy all the time because the Mommy is a "do-it-all". God gives to those who will handle it. Not perfect, but someone like you who will carry the load for Him without crumbling.

I bet you are like like me...I never dreampt 14 years ago as I was planning my wedding that today I would have 6 kids, but God did the choosing and not me, so all I can do is embrace it. This too shall pass!

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