It’s that time of year again when we assess ourselves as mothers. I like to do this multiple times yearly to reassess how I spend my time. While I generally don’t make official New Year’s resolutions, I still find it helpful to define how I intend to focus my time in the next semester so that my vision is clear for my family. I’ve put together a New Year's planner to help me process these ideas, and I’m sharing it with you today!
Time Management Books
Recently, I’ve been poring over time-management books and working on spending my time wisely. Since time is a limited resource, we must be careful with how we use it! If you need help in this area, I highly recommend reading through these books:
Ruthless Elimination of Hurry
John Mark Comer models this idea of life assessment and scaling commitments beautifully in his book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. I read this book a couple of years ago and recently reread it (the author reads the audible version, which is excellent). As I listened for a second time to the ideas he presented, I realized how easily I get sucked into the lie that I need to do everything. I like the feeling of being needed or wanted by people, and that path does not honor the Lord.
Jordan Raynor outlines 7 Biblical principles to help his readers discern how to spend their time in the way most honors the Lord. His thoughts challenged me to look at how Jesus spent His time to learn what kinds of things God, the creator of time, values. It will also go on my “to read again” book stack.
Use the New Year's Planner to clear your plate a little, or maybe a lot!
I can no longer eat at buffets or those Brazilian restaurants where you get unlimited meat. God didn’t design my stomach to hold that much food, which is a reasonable limit to recognize. Have you ever been at a potluck where your flimsy paper plate just can’t hold all the goodies you’re interested in trying?
It’s hard to let go of things. Take some time to identify what you can safely let go of, and maybe your plate will be a bit more available to add a reasonable amount for a new semester.
Here are some categories to consider:
Things Out of My Control
I know, I know. If you’re anything like me, it’s hard to imagine that there is anything out of your control.
When you start to get overwhelmed, it’s crucial to identify anxiety stemming from things outside of your control, like:
- Other people’s actions
- Other people’s opinions
- The weather
- Accidental injuries
- Your own sickness
- Sickness of those you care for
- Extended family needs
- Unexpected deaths
Things that waste my time
Friends, I like to waste time. While I have a high capacity for getting things done, I also love to:
- Browse on Pinterest with no purpose
- Scroll through Instagram with no time limit
- Play tap games on my phone (sadly, this is true)
- Linger in the shower
- Ignore my alarm
While some of these are good in moderation and at the appropriate time, often, that isn’t the case when I review my screen time at the end of the week. Time is precious, and these activities don’t represent my priorities, so acknowledging them is good.
Taking ownership of others’ responsibilities might be the hardest one for me. I love supporting my college kids in keeping up with their assignments, but I need to draw a line where I don’t accept full responsibility for their success in school. Part of their education involves keeping up with those assignments, so I need to let them be educated.
What responsibilities do you take on that are not yours?
Things that aren’t needed
I think the important word in this category is “need.” It can be challenging to differentiate a want from a need. You may want to cook every meal fresh from scratch, but you may not have the time for that. Could you meal prep or make a double batch and serve that meal again as leftovers?
Or what about laundry? Yes, we need clean clothes, but could you re-wear anything or have fewer outfit changes throughout the week? What about the kids? Do they wear something for five minutes and then throw it in the laundry? My girls used to create instant mounds of work for me until I trained them to hang their clothes back up if they could wear it again.
What other areas in your life could you free up by identifying wants versus needs?
Things I think I have to do
There was a tweet that circulated around Thanksgiving that said:
Listen, if you are going to someone's house for Thanksgiving, compliment their baseboards. That is what they are spending today cleaning.— Simon Holland (@simoncholland) November 18, 2018
Often we place a higher priority on things that seem urgent, yet we could do without in light of the bigger picture. There’s nothing wrong with cleaning your baseboards, but make sure it doesn’t come at too high of a cost.
Things I Think Only I Can Do:
It’s hard to make that transition from doing everything for your family to including your kids in the keeping of the house. While you’re going to be better at most of the tasks, in the beginning it’s our job to train our kids to care for themselves when they leave the nest. So…
- Instead of doing all the cleaning, teach them some cleaning hacks.
- Instead of doing all of the cooking, meal planning, or shopping, get your family involved. It might start a little more challenging, but it is glorious when your kids start making your lunch.
- Instead of taking care of the yard all on your own, get the whole gang involved.
Be Intentional With Your Time
Now that we’ve scaled back the priority list, we can focus on our vision as mothers. Take some time to set some ambitious, long-term goals. You have a lifetime to grow towards these goals, so dream big. What kind of mother, wife, daughter, or friend that you want to be?
Once you define your callings, think through what that will mean about how you spend your time. Here are mine:
- Wife: Bring my husband good all of the days of my life. Proverbs 31:12
- Mother/Aunt: Inspire those in my care to love the Lord with all of their heart, soul, and strength. Deuteronomy 6:5
- Daughter: Honor my mother and look out for her as a widow in her time of need. Exodus 20:12, James 1:27
- Homeschooler: Diligently teach my children God’s truth, talking about them when we sit or walk or lay down or get up. Deuteronomy 6:7
- Entrepreneur: Inspire and equip families to know God and make Him known. Matthew 6:33, 28:19-20
- Servant: Seek ways to extend my family ministry to the church, my community, and to the nations. Hebrews 10:25, Proverbs 3:27, Matthew 28:19
Do more of this:
With your vision more defined, you can then determine what kinds of things you’d like to do more of this year.
As a wife, I will do more of this for my husband:
- Speak words of encouragement.
- Support his pursuits.
- Work hard for our family.
As a mother/aunt, I will do more of this for those in my care:
- Point them to the truths found in scripture.
- Instruct them with kindness.
- Look them in the eye when we’re talking.
- Distribute hugs freely.
As a daughter, I will do more of this for my mother:
- Prioritize her care.
- Express gratitude for her investment in my life.
- Pray for her.
As a homeschooler, I will do more of this for my students:
- Talk about what they’re learning with them.
- Connect the conversation to Truth from God’s Word.
- Cultivate conversations outside of formal education times.
As an entrepreneur, I will do more of this for the families I serve:
- Create resources that encourage faith.
- Share more of my struggles and God’s goodness.
- Encourage my family to share their giftings.
As a servant, I will do more of this for the people in my life:
- Be a cheerful giver.
- Encourage those in leadership over me.
- Practice hospitality.
Do less of this:
Sometimes it’s helpful to define the other side—similar to how shadows define the subject of a drawing. While we will never be perfect, setting goals for things you’d like to avoid is good.
You might need to pray over this list to see what God brings to mind for each category. What better way to start a new year than by confessing shortcomings to the Lord and your family?
Are You Ready to Get Your New Year’s Planner?
Grab your free New Year's planner below, a pen, maybe a cozy blanket, and a warm cup of coffee or tea, and start considering a vision for the roles God has called you to fulfill. One of my favorite ideas from Redeeming Your Time is that God doesn’t need us to finish our to-do lists. He doesn’t need us to do anything. God is the only being who neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:4, ESV).
Maybe you need help grasping and ordering all that you have on your plate. You might enjoy my Personal Planner Bundle:
The Family Planner features a full-color option or black and white option for easy printing. Easily customize any planner pages with the Canva (a free online design tool) template. Planner pages include:
- New Years Intentions
- 12 Month Calendar
- Calendar Planning Sheets
- Homeschool Planner
- Student Planner Pages
- Meal Planner Pages
- Personal Finance Planner
- Journal Pages
- Bible Study & Prayer Pages
- Holiday Planner
Get off to a Great Start with the New Year's Planner
Whether you're starting a new year, or a new school year, getting your thoughts and activities organized around your vision for God's calling on your life with this New Year's planner is a great way to get off to a great start.
My prayer is that God would:
"fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light." Colossians 1:9-12
Blessings on your fresh beginnings!
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.