Back in high school, my AP Spanish teacher would jokingly ask me (he addressed everyone by last name) “Toledo, were you born late!?!” every time I’d come rushing into class late-and it being my first class period, it happened often. I’ve always struggled with time management. I always left myself just enough time to go rushing out the door, racing the clock by SECONDS to get to whatever destination right. on. time. It’s no wonder I was a very big financial supporter of the city of Corona, California Highway Patrol, various areas in Los Angeles, and maybe a couple of other locales. I was always getting pulled over for speeding. Years later, I still struggled with time management, and more so with having to manage three children. I no longer like to speed, so I’ve really embraced the motto “better late than never”. My husband, who likes to arrive early wherever he goes, has (for his own sanity’s sake, I suppose) raised the white flag of surrender after over a decade of dealing with my lateness. God, bless him and his patience!
Getting to places on time is not my only struggle. Consistency with managing responsibilities and obligations in a timely manner is another challenge. Add in pregnancy symptoms and what do you get? Basically, my husband doing everything to keep order in our home and food in everyone’s bellies so that they don’t starve. I do not share that proudly. This pregnancy has been the most difficult one I’ve experienced, and I’ve often tapped out of adulting and parenting more times than I can count. I have endured morning sickness, severe fatigue due to anemia, major brain fog, a progressively worsening case of sciatica that came much sooner than my previous pregnancies. As a result, I have battled feelings of failure as a wife and mother because my husband had to take on the entire operations- cooking, cleaning, caring for the kids- while quietly dealing with his own physical pain, injury/surgery recovery, and physical therapy. The guilt has been a heavy weight on my shoulders, especially because he would never tell me if he feels overwhelmed with it all. I’m grateful for the amazing, selfless husband the Lord has given me, and whom I’ve too often felt deserves so much better.
As part of my new year goals, I decided I would work to improve this bad habit of time management, as well as find ways to do more without overdoing it physically. Two of the most important behavioral shifts that have created a positive change are:
1. Get better sleep- I set the goal of waking up by 6:30am, and going to sleep by 10:30pm. This one has not been easy, but the impact it’s made on my productivity and mood have motivated me to stick to it. Mike is naturally an early riser, so he has been my wake up call a couple of times, and has been so helpful by bringing coffee up to assist with the waking up process. As my circadian rhythm has adjusted to waking up earlier, I’ve been able to enjoy quiet time for both leisure and devotional reading, as well as accomplishing other morning goals. The only struggle I’ve encountered with consistently achieving this daily goal is that I can’t fall asleep until my dears little miss night owl does. Also, I’m at the point in my pregnancy where it takes ten to fifteen seconds to roll from one side to the other, everything hurts so I wake up often with hip pains or some other discomfort, and my bladder & I are on unfriendly terms.
2. Commit to around 10 minutes of tidying every day- This small move has been so effective! Now, I did do a full clean before the new year began. However, since the first, I don’t spend much more than the set time frame to tidy up. I must note, I’ve also made the kids fully responsible for picking up their toys. It’s funny how motivated they become to pick up when tablet/screen time depends on their productivity! Not having to constantly pick up after them has really helped cut down on cleaning time. I don’t count my bedroom, which I tidy up daily as part of my morning routine (it is not a place I spend a lot of time in, so it hardly gets messy). I also don’t count laundry, which is done about once a week (sometimes twice, depending on activities). I’ve embraced a minimalist wardrobe, so 2 loads is usually the max that I’m doing). I have a daily to do list of other focused activities that I add to as necessary so that I don’t forget any tasks I want to complete. I can’t take credit for the awesome idea of focused, 10 minute tidying. I gleaned this nugget of wisdom from Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project. It has really helped free up time to do more with my family, which is the most important part for me. It’s been a huge blessing!
Those two small changes have directly and positively impacted my daily life, and my husband’s as well. During a recent “discussion” (more like me throwing a temper tantrum) about my frustration that we don’t get any time to just sit and talk without any distractions (especially the blessed ones we call our children!). He pointed out (to my dismay) that he is doing the cooking, cleaning and child rearing- on top of his own obligations- since I haven’t been able to with the way I’ve been feeling. Instead of being grateful that he was doing everything so that I could try to rest, I was pouting about him not giving me enough attention! After making these small changes, we’ve been able to share more quality time together. The lack of pileups throughout the house has allowed him to be able to just sit and relax more, which gives us more opportunities to talk and bond when the kids are doing other things!
It has taken years to feel like I have control over my day and household! I have more learning and growing to do in this area (I still tend to fall into this “where did the time go?!” time warp that results in me rushing out the front door to get to my classes on time. 2020 goals, anyone?), but these small changes have made a big difference in my mood, peace, and the amount of time I have in my day. I’m so thankful for all of the wonderful authors and bloggers who’ve played a part by sharing these small changes that have brought more happiness to my life!
What are some small (or big) changes you’ve made that have resulted in a happier, more peaceful life for you and your loved ones?