Thursday, January 30, 2014


Today I'm reflecting on one of my personal goals for this year: Re-evaluate my schedule and responsibilities outside the home. You can read the rest of my Goals for 2014 here.

Being Busy.

I'm not the first person to note that our culture has an obsession with being busy. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has listed off my activities like a badge of honor. For me, there are two things that really drive this busy-ness: pride and a difficulty saying no.

I'll confess that I always liked having a busy schedule. When I was growing up, my parents limited each of us to one activity a season (outside of church and youth group). But once I started driving my own car, I was involved in so much. I was in the school musicals, every choral group offered, National Honor Society, youth group, and an after-school job to pay for car expenses. In our family Christmas letter my senior year, my mom wrote that the only time they saw me was at meals and when I was napping on the couch. It was exhausting, but I loved it. Being busy made me feel important (there's that pride kicking in), especially when those activities were by audition or special criterion. And they were all great things! I couldn't imagine saying no to any of them.
When I went to college, I once again limited myself to a few commitments (Choir and Bible Study) because I knew getting good grades and receiving my degree were most important. I even gave up Touring Choir (which I absolutely LOVED) during my senior year, so I could focus all my attention on student teaching.

Fast forward to now. My activities were my lifeline after Kiddo was born. Having a full calendar meant there was always something to look forward to. They motivated me to get out of my yoga pants and out of the house. And after being cooped up and away from public places for almost 6 weeks at our pediatrician's recommendation, I was ready to do just that. In my baby-filled world, I cherished spending time with other adults.
But recently, I'd started to dread the days I had to leave the house - and secretly rejoiced when those morning activities were cancelled due to poor weather. What was once a way to keep my sanity was beginning to cause tension. As winter arrived, I had to wrestle my two-year-old into his coat, shoes, and car seat before going anywhere. Every time we left the house, my stress level rose.
I remember reflecting at the end of a particularly long week in November, and finding I was actually thankful that Kiddo got sick so I was forced to stay home and slow down our pace. It was then that I started really thinking about my current schedule and what needed to change.
And that's pretty much where I've been ever since - just thinking, and talking about thinking about paring down our schedule. A new year and a set of goals has given me the motivation to act.

Saying No to Good Things.

I had my first opportunity to put that goal in action a few weeks ago. Last month, as I was really feeling convicted to free my schedule, I received an email from my pastor's wife. She is directing this spring's children's musical (one of the Psalty the Singing Songbook plays) and asked me to consider playing the part of Charity Churchmouse like I had in December 2011. It was a weekly 2-hour commitment on a Monday night February-March. I told her I'd think and pray about it and let her know after New Year's. Just after I wrote my 2014 goals, I gave her my answer. As much as I hated to say no (I LOVE musical theater, even if it's "just" a kids' musical), I knew I had to decline.
I mean, who wouldn't want to paint their face white and dress up like a mouse? ;-)
Another thing I've taken out of my schedule is my Tuesday morning Ladies' Bible Study. This was another difficult choice. I love the ladies and the relationships I've built with them as we've studied the Word together. But at this time it's the only place where I don't have responsibility. As a leader I have to be at Pioneer Girls, and as a member of the Steering Team I have to go to MOPs, (and I really do enjoy both), but I no one is counting on me to be at Bible Study. 
And I've reaped some benefits so far. Though I lost the regular fellowship I had with a wonderful group of ladies (and child care for Kiddo to boot), I now have the opportunity to develop closer relationships one-on-one with other moms by having an extra day to schedule play dates. And since I don't feel rushed to be "on time" for play dates, it has eliminated a huge amount of stress, and (let's be honest) some yelling as we tried to rush out the door.

I learned to say no.
I've learned that sometimes you need to release one good thing to receive another.

If you follow Crystal Paine at Money Saving Mom, you know she's been talking all about this with the launch of her new book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. I haven't read it yet, but I've enjoyed reading her preview post and the reviews she's shared from others. Two things that really struck me are that just because you're busy doesn't mean you're productive, and when you say yes to one thing, you are actually saying no to something else.

By saying yes to all of those outside activities, and blogging on top of it all, I was saying no to cleaning as much as I should. I was also saying no to an orderly house, which is really important to Hubby. Finally, I was saying no to doing more fun things with Kiddo, and instead letting him a have a bit more screen time or leaving him to play independently.
So, in keeping with those thoughts, my main action plan for February is to set my priorities and then set my schedule accordingly. (I'll share more on that later.)

Where I Stand Now.

Accomplishing this goal will be an on-going endeavor, as there will always be things vying for my time and attention. However, I feel like I've made some good progress. As I shared with my free printable Goal Planning Sheet, my action plan for this goal is as follows:
  • Prayerfully consider each activity on my schedule.
    On-going, but I did drop Bible Study for now.
  • Say "no" to new responsibilities, and if I want to say yes, drop a current responsibility.
    I decided not to participate in the Psalty musical this year.
  • Consider dropping 1 other responsibility at the end of the "school year."
    Its definitely something I'm prayerfully considering.
The activities still on my schedule are MOPs & MOPs Steering Team, Pioneer Girls, Church Small Group, coordinating the Meals Ministry for church, and of course, regular household duties and blogging. While that may not sound like a lot to some, it's plenty for me in my current situation.

Where I'll Go From Here.

Do you have a full schedule? When was the last time you evaluated your commitments?  I have a challenge planned for next week that should help me continue to evaluate my time - and you can do it too! Check back soon for more details.

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