(Timesheet courtesy of http://lauravanderkam.com/books/168-hours/manage-your-time/)
We are well into the New Year, but it’s never too late to set a resolution, goal, or make a desired change in our lives.
A shift is in order in my own life. Not a change necessarily, just a shift to get me back on track. It’s something I’ve done for years but found it is an area I’ve become complacent in. An area I’ve let slide because I’ve allowed so many new distractions into my life. Funny thing about distractions is that you often don’t recognize them as distractions until you notice everything else around you sliding. Then you take an inventory of your day, your time, and your jaw drops to see all that was wasted on silly distractions.
Challenge: If you want more moments in your life, spend a week charting your time.
When I worked as a CPA, one thing we were required to do was log our time. Clients needed to be billed for the billable time I spent on their accounts. Logging my time was great accountability. I wanted to be productive, I wanted to be efficient. And let’s be honest, I wanted a raise as well. At the end of the day, I could feel good about that time log when I saw that every single 5 minutes was accounted for. My goal was to be as billable as I could. The more billable, the more valuable.
While this is good for a CPA, it’s not so great for a mom. Often the greatest investments of our time can’t be quantified.
There were days I might make a pit stop to chat with a friend in her cube. When I returned to my cube, I’d chart that time to miscellaneous non-billable. I really hated that. Really, really hated it. My nature is to be as productive as possible. It’s a blessing at times and a curse at times. At the end of the week, I would look at my percentage of billable to non-billable time and had a clear picture of where I had invested my time. I saw which clients received the most attention, which clients needed a bit more of my time, where I was out of line. It also encouraged me to find better ways to make the most of my time. For example, if I checked my email at every ding, I had to switch gears to read and respond and would lose time on working on the current task. If I checked at specific times, I could produce better results. Logging my time showed me which changes to make and how to make them.
What if we were to log our time at home? What would the results show us? Too much Facebook? Too much Pinterest? Too much phone time? Too much tv time? Too much cleaning? Too much what? If you feel you simply don’t have enough time for things that are important then I challenge you to chart your every move for an entire week. You may be shocked at what you find. How do I know this? Because I took a hard look at my own time.
And this is how I realized a shift was in order. A shift to be more intentional. Surprised? Considering I write about capitalizing on the moments, the experiences? Since I desire to create meaningful traditions? I, like many others, have a tendency to lose my focus at times, to drift. Distractions are tricky like that. They sneak in and steal your time, cause you to lose your focus, and take you to a state of being overwhelmed. They are so sneaky that they often sneak in, do their damage, and sneak out before you ever know what hit you. Until something really hits you, jolts you to the point of looking into yourself and taking inventory.
As my children are getting older, they simply need me less and less. This is both good and bad. The bad side is that because they don’t need me to entertain them, if I’m not careful, I will lose out on precious moments with them. I can get caught up in my distractions or my to-do list because they don’t “need” me. They may not need me, but they do need the moments with me.
Several instances occurred showing me I was veering off-course and needed redirection, but the one that stuck out the most occurred with Zachary, my 7-year-old. Everyone was home from school, normal afternoon routines were in place. Homework had been completed, chores were completed, Jacob had a few things to wrap up in the house and Zachary went out to soak up the warm Carolina sun. I was skipping around the kitchen cleaning messes and trying to get a step ahead. To be the super mom who was so organized and so together that she would be able to prepare dinner (early), get a head start on nighttime routines, and even prepare for the next morning.
I’m skipping right along, feelings of efficiency and productivity providing feelings of worth and value because they can be measured. I can see the boxes I checked off and feel good about what I accomplished. Yet, these aren’t the measures of a good mom. And I know this, yet still find myself battling it daily.
This is the danger of being me. It’s an area God deals with me on regularly. Thankful He is patient and will never give up on a stubborn, hard head like me!
As pride is coursing through my blood, I strolled by the glass door in the kitchen that looks through the screen porch to the playground. And I stopped. Zachary was sitting on the slide, all by himself, with not a care in the world, soaking up the sun, with a beautiful smile on his innocent face.
Everything stopped in that moment. I laid down everything in my hands, undoing the task I was intent to complete, walked outside and shut the door on the stress, distractions, and worries that lay inside the walls of my home. He didn’t hear me approaching. The slide is a double slide, just perfect for the 2 of us.
“Oh, mom, you scared me! What are you doing.”
“I came to play with you.” Then I sat on the end of the slide, feet planted in the mulch, and I laid back. Basking in the warmth of the sun. “Wow this sun feels amazing. It’s peaceful out here.” I looked up at the sky, watched the clouds as they formed their shapes and moved away, watched the birds fly from tree to tree.
“Mom, isn’t it amazing how God could create something like the sun.”
“Yes, something that is millions of miles away, millions of degrees, yet we lay here on this slide and feel the warmth in the perfect temperature. The light the warmth. It’s simply amazing.”
I reached over, grasped his hand that is getting bigger each day, and squeezed.
Oh the moments. They need to be seized. Constantly. They are there, always, waiting for us to grab them to make them into something to be remembered. So simple they can be. Like sitting on a slide feeling the warmth of a rare February day. Relishing in the time we’ve been granted. Thankful for the sweetness of simplicity.
And I walked away blown away by God again. That He cares enough about me to let me fall on my own, time after time after time, yet He never gives up. He never throws His hands up. He patiently allows me to find my way through Him who is Ever-present. What a model He is for us parents. Patiently allowing His children to mess up, to fall, to feel the pain, then He helps them back up, comforts their pain, and shows them the better path.
So my February New Years Resolution is simple. It’s to be INTENTIONAL with my time. Creating SIMPLE moments. And LOTS of them.
Will you join me?