...as we learn to seek balance and follow God’s plan for how we spend our time, we must give ourselves the freedom to fail and learn and try again.
Springtime brings blooming flowers, longer days, and hectic schedules. Not only do we want to enjoy the spring weather and sunshine, but our calendars also fill up with more activities such as graduations and weddings.
When my spring schedule has me feeling stressed, I use these techniques to manage the load:
My favorite way to handle busy times is to wake up earlier. I know what you’re thinking: “No way!” I thought that for years. Sleep is good and necessary and we often don’t get enough of it anyway. But waking up 30 minutes early to have a cup of coffee and pray has changed my life. I focus solely on God during that time. I journal my prayers to help me stay focused. I confess my sins, ask for help, tell Him my hopes, and offer my time and life to Him. There is a saying about tithes: “90% of my income with God’s blessing is better than 100% without it.” The same is true with our time. When we offer our “first fruits” in the form of the beginning of our day, the Lord blesses not only that time, but the rest of our day as well.
We know that King David prayed in the mornings, as he wrote, “In the morning, Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3). Jesus also slipped away from His disciplines to pray. Matthew 1:35 tells us, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.”
Maybe you don’t need to set an alarm as early as I do. Maybe you wake up and spend 30 minutes on social media, so begin to use that time to pray rather than scroll. However you choose to approach it, prayer with God first thing in the morning will help relieve how hectic your schedule feels the rest of the day.
Important Disclaimer: You cannot have an early morning if you are staying up too late trying to get more things done. You will exhaust yourself and end up feeling like you have even less time because you are so worn out. Don’t stay up late trying to get one more thing done. Waking 30 minutes earlier will make you more productive than staying up 30 minutes later.
Most often, when I am feeling overwhelmed by my schedule, it is when I have failed to plan ahead. Having a plan for the busy times keeps me organized and makes me less likely to overlook something. A few ways that I plan ahead are:
Write down my schedule
When I try to keep it all in my head, I am bound to lose track of something. Whether on a paper planner or in my phone calendar, I record an event, due date, or task as soon as I find out about it. I cannot trust myself to write it down later; it happens immediately.
Slow cooker meals not only help me out when dinnertime is busy, but they don’t heat up my house as the outside temperature is rising. I carve out some time to prep meals for the week, usually on Sunday afternoon, to help my future self. With all the ingredients already prepped and in a bag together in the fridge, I can dump them in a slow cooker in the morning and have a delicious meal at dinnertime.
Do you, like me, have 8 graduations and 6 weddings to attend this spring? Buy all of the gifts at the same time. There is no need to go shopping individually for all of these events, even if you are shopping online. Sure, a birthday party will pop up here and there, but major events are planned in advance. When you know how many gifts you need to buy, get them all at once, wrap them all at once, and store them until that event happens. You will find that it is a delight to not have to stop by the store on your way to a graduation party.
Stay Connected with Important People
One of the most frustrating things about my busy schedule is how it interferes with my relationships. Sometimes I feel like I am going from one thing to another so quickly that I don’t have time to connect. We all know that multitasking is not the best use of our time, but I have found that if we multitask an activity with a relationship, it can work out quite well.
For example, when I am sitting at my daughter’s softball practice, I call my mom who lives in a different state. I can watch softball and talk at the same time. Maybe you need to plant some flowers in your yard. Invite a friend! I bet you can plant flowers and chat at the same time. Feeling like you haven’t had any alone time with your spouse? Any dinner becomes a date when you have intention. Let the kids eat in front of the TV, light some candles in the dining room, and have a dinner date with your husband, even if it only lasts 20 minutes. When we are focused rather than frazzled, 20 minutes can work wonders.
Share the Load
I have two brilliant friends who meal-share. They work together to meal plan and make a grocery list, then they alternate who makes the trip to Costco each month. One makes half of the meals for the month, and the other makes half of the meals for the month. Each meal they make is doubled and given to the other family, leaving these busy moms to have homemade meals for a month while only cooking half the time. My jaw literally dropped open when they told me about it.
My husband and I sit down every Sunday and plan out all the activities for the week. We decide who will take on which task and how we can support each other on the really busy days. When he has a lot going on at work, I take on more with the kids. When I carpool for sports practice, he gets dinner ready. We try to balance the responsibilities so neither of us is overwhelmed.
There are many ways to share the load. Could you make a plan with your husband, mom, best friend, or neighbor to help share one another’s load?
Give Yourself Some Grace
There is a season for everything, and sometimes we are just really busy. Give yourself some grace as you navigate this season, prioritizing what matters and letting go of some things that don’t. It won’t always be just like this, and we always have to find new rhythms that fit the moment. We may have to learn to say no to some things, and we may miss out on some activities that we want to do. But as we learn to seek balance and follow God’s plan for how we spend our time, we must give ourselves the freedom to fail and learn and try again.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/grinvalds
Megan Moore is a military spouse and mom of 3 (through birth and adoption). A speech-language pathologist by training, she now spends her time moving around the country every couple of years. She is passionate about special needs, adoption, and ice cream.