Time Management After Kids

How does a woman manage her time in middle-age? How does one manage one's time after years of homeschooling? Is all this extra time a blessing, or a curse?

This has been a post that's been rattling around in my head for quite some time, but hasn't quite made it to paper, so to speak. Partly, I think that is because I haven't been able to fully conclude who this is written for...the homeschooling mom who has finished homeschooling?...the mom whose chickens have all flown the coop?...maybe both of the above, but I'm not entirely sure I'm qualified OR have enough perspective of time to do the subject justice. So, perhaps it's more of a ramble through miscellaneous thoughts and a hope that it touches a chord in someone.

I homeschooled all of our children from kindergarten through high school graduation. That's 13 years of education x 3 kids = 19 years. That's a long time to devote to one purpose day in and day out. It was a joy! My husband and I would count it as one of the best decisions we ever made. And while everyone homeschools differently (that's part of the beauty of it), I would say that I ran a tight, but thriving and imaginative ship! Our days, for 19 years, ran a very predictable pattern. It looked something like this:

9:00 a.m. - school starts
10:45 a.m. - break for snack
11:00 a.m. - school resumes
12:45 p.m. - lunch
1:30 p.m. - school resumes until finished
afternoons often spent running to various lessons and extracurricular activities

The schedule allowed us to get all subjects accomplished AND maintain enough free time to keep us all from going bonkers (most weeks), which meant that I had enough time to maintain the household too (which was half my job) and the kids had enough time to be kids (run and play outside, invent, create, grow into their own persons, and bond with friends and each other).

And then, with Max's graduation, that daily, predictable schedule ceased. Nineteen years and then the schedule was wiped clean. 

I had seen a lot of my friends flounder at that point. They wondered aloud to me...what were they to do now? How were they to spend their time? I knew myself well enough to know that I must have some productivity every day and that floundering would never do. So, I started my Etsy shops in my waning years of homeschooling, gradually ramping them up as each child graduated. For me, that was a wise move.

And while my small businesses keep me bustlingly busy at times, and for that I am so grateful, there is still the matter of managing my time.

"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil." - Ephesians 5:15-16. Whether you are in the midst of homeschooling or not, have kids at home or no kids at all, this statement of Scripture is true for all of us. We are to be wise in how we spend our time, because we naturally want to spend it foolishly and in evil ways. We are wont to spend it solely on our own pleasures.
It IS tempting to fitter away time on social media, on watching a movie (because there's no reason not to watch one when you're alone at home at 10:30 a.m.), or spend the day reading or shopping. 

To that end, the best thing I've done to keep myself from squandering time is to be diligent about setting goals for the year and breaking them down to months and weeks and days, and within each day into morning, afternoon, and evening. This has given me a much needed framework to structure my days. It keeps me on track. It gives me focus. Absolutely everything I do goes onto the calendar. Breaking everything into such tiny pieces is helping me keep on track to accomplish big things over the course of the year. For example, this year I set a spiritual goal to keep a daily gratitude journal. And while it may only take me five minutes each morning to write in it, a journal kept faithfully for 365 days will be an accomplishment by the end of the year. You might've noticed that I've been much more faithful about blogging this year. That, too, is due to my goal setting and breaking goals down into manageable bits. To read more about my planner, you can read this posting here.

But are there advantages to the extra time one has at this time of life? Yes, and as much as I miss my kids being school age, I will admit that there is more time for me, which I am just now really starting to enjoy. But one must guard against selfishness, as at all other times of life. Just the same, it feels good to have more time to devote to my quiet times with the Lord. There is more time to exercise, which was sadly neglected when more pressing matters were at hand and children needed to be nurtured. And there's more time to explore creative pursuits (take a class, learn a new skill). And more time to read for my pleasure. But it's taken me three years to get to the point of really starting to enjoy it.

I'd love to hear from some of you, if you struggle to manage your time, or to adjusting your time post-kids! Do leave a comment!

4 comments:

  1. Interesting post! I have young children, so I'm not yet to the time in life that you are describing, but your productivity is a great encouragement to me!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the post! Enjoy your time with your precious little ones!

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  2. Hi Kate, Our only son is a soon to be 11th grader. I have much more freedom now but still drive to him school and volunteer there once a week. I have friends who are where you are and I'll be there in a two years. It's rather daunting. Like you, I really want to spend my time wisely. I'm not sure what I'll do yet but it's on my mind a lot. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. You're welcome! May God give you wisdom with your time!

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