Time is of the essence

March 16, 2009

by Jenni Sebora

We know, as parents, we want to do it all and many times, we try to.

It is hard to say “no” when we are asked to volunteer for some meeting, club, activity and the list goes on. Of course, we need volunteers, but there is a limit to giving away our time and energy. We can’t and shouldn’t take it all on.

When our volunteering disrupts our families to the degree it is having a negative impact on the time with them, it is time to reevaluate how and where our precious time is being spent. We have to set limits and prioritize.

“Parenting,” December/January 2006, offered these suggestions for those of us who tend to over-commit ourselves.

• Imagine next week is today. Would you be able to do those things today what you are committed to do next week? When you make an appointment or a commitment to something or someone, imagine that it is happening today. If you are busy now, most likely you will be that busy next week, too.

• Don’t get caught up in the moment. Someone asks you to help out and you get caught up in the discussion of it, and you immediately agree to the commitment. But Lynya Ford, author of the “Parenting” article, suggested not responding right away to the request. Tell them you need to check your schedule first.

• Be real. Realize and accept that most things take longer than you expect, especially when you have your children with you.

It is also better to commit to a couple of things and do a good job at them with feelings that you are adequately doing your part, rather than overcommiting yourself and feeling like you are not doing a good job at anything you do.

Always take time to “smell the roses,” because they are meant to be enjoyed. Having a family, whether it entails having children or not, is meant to enjoy. Having children does not just mean running from place to place and forgetting where we started from in the first place.

We have to all remember we can’t get it all done at one time. We need to set realistic goals about our day. We can clean one room in a day, but maybe not the whole house.

Here are some time-saving and clear-the-clutter tips:

• Do things in 10s. Each time you are going upstairs, bring 10 pieces of folded laundry along to put away.

• Pin socks together when doing laundry so you always find its match.

• Have a basket for each of your children’s school work, notes, etc. At the end of the week, you and your children can go through the papers and discard what is not needed anymore so the paper clutter does not become overwhelming. When things seem overwhelming, we feel like it is not achievable.

• Have a place for everything and make sure your children know where these places are so they can put their own things away in their rightful places. Backpacks have homes; shoes go in certain places; mittens and hats go in a certain drawer or a bin marked for each child.

• Take digital pictures of your child’s artwork and then place those photographs in an album to eliminate all of the paper.

• Make your bed, and have your children make their beds every day. That makes each person’s bedroom much more visibly uncluttered and begins the day on a positive note.

Visual clutter can make one feel “cluttered” inside. External clutter can also create internal clutter.

As interior designers and professional organizers say, if you haven’t used something in a year, it is time to get rid of it, which may mean giving it away or selling it at a garage sale.

As we all know, time is the most precious commodity, and we have to choose how we are going to spend it wisely. We have to prioritize and be realistic about our time.