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Time Management with Children?
February 11, 2015

Imagine you’re at your own funeral. What will people say about you? What difference will you have made in others’ lives?

No one on their death bed regrets not working another day, but many wish they had spent more time with people. If people are so important, (when I look at Jesus’s life, I can see He invested in people) then why is it so hard to keep that focus? 

My Life Before Children: I performed tasks. I checked them off my list when they were accomplished. Then I’d had a good day.

Enter: Child number one.

Did you ever notice that children do not ask when it is convenient for you to change their diapers or nurse them? I still had my list, but I had to work harder to achieve it.

Enter: Child number two.

Did you know that you do not add children, you multiply them? One plus one does not equal two: two children can make ten times more mess than just one. One mud hole plus two boys equals mud not only on them, but everywhere.

I had my list, but I worked on it after they went to bed. 

Enter: Child number three.

There is a reason that the third born child is more independent and more aggressive in what he wants. Mom does not have enough hands to hold him back from his adventures. He wants to do it himself anyway.

I had my list, but I needed my sleep, so I could no longer work on the list at night when they were in bed. So I delegated part of the cleaning to them, so they could ‘help’ me. It took ten times longer than if I would do it myself. But I could still cross it off my list.

Enter: Child number four.

Are you doing the multiplication? Four boys times ten times the mess equals… They enjoyed making messes more than cleaning, so there was more to clean.

I still had my list, but it had two things on it: make dinner and eat it. (I had to add something that I actually could do without effort to make me feel that I had accomplished something.)

Enter: Child number five.

I gave up using cloth diapers and used only disposable. I decided the fleas that were coming in the house were either coming inside on the laundry that I dried in the nice fresh air or behind the boys’ ears (I saw them there). I decided that the dryer worked just fine and used it. I found that paper plates were good.

I forsook my list so that I wouldn’t be depressed. My sons were growing up and I didn’t want to be known as an angry, irate mother who had a list and must keep it.

I learned to say, “I had a good day, because I survived.” 

Enter: Child number six.

Now the older boys had an audience for their antics. The path through the garden became a bike trail and the mud could be made into a slide extending down the hill. My time was spent either stopping messes before they started, or finding jobs that kept them gainfully employed. They became better at cleaning, because I was too exhausted to clean anything.

My list consisted only of getting through the day. If I tried to accomplish anything, I would become angry at the interruptions. Eventually I found the interruptions were my day, and that God had sent them for my growth.

Enter: Child number seven.

I had to give up getting anything done and be thankful for anything God allowed me to do.

Now I had a list for the boys to accomplish. My day suddenly found accomplishment again. I accepted that their screws would not be screwed in straight, but they did hold the board. The cement had lumps but we learned to pour it. 

Enter: Child number eight.

I find that it takes more energy to enforce cleaning than I can muster. It is with great effort that I have a list for anyone to do. Sometimes I feel that cleaning is a waste of good energy.

My list has shrunk from the pre-child stage. I accomplish laundry and dinner and school and it is a good day.

I recently read a book on leadership. One of the chapters spoke of time management: "If you spend fifteen minutes planning your day on paper every morning, you will add 20 percent to your productivity.”

I agree. But I also have learned that interruptions are God’s way of getting my attention.

Completing my list won’t get me into heaven but trying to accomplish it above everything else may keep someone else from seeing God because I am angry, frustrated, and focused on my list.

Letting go of my wishes and allowing God to direct my steps allows me to say at the end of the day, “It was good.”

Time management with children? That’s an oxymoron.

Or maybe it’s living how Jesus did—allowing the children to come unto Him. For such is the kingdom of heaven.



What has helped you to let go of your to-do list so that you can remember people?

Why didn't you write this YEARS ago when I needed it!! I still keep lists, but unless something HAS to be done, tomorrow is as good as today. (Somethings get moved to the next week's list many times before they're either finally done, or just disappear off the list! Out of sight, out of mind.) Enjoyed your article and the changes that come with each child. See you soon.

I love your new photo and banner! Looks great. I am still hanging on to my daily To Do List even with number seven due in six weeks. It has helped me to put things on my list like "Toddler Time" and "Math with Ethan" and "Quiet Time/Rest Time," so I can cross things off with a sense of accomplishment, even if the accomplishment is taking a nap or playing with my littles. I just feel lost if I go through the day without some kind of a guide that I put together early in the day. You are so right about all that God teaches us by taking us out of our comfort zone and away from our preferences. Thank you Sonya!

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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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