I was complaining recently over how busy September is for me this year. And then, as I looked ahead to October and November, dark pen marks filled those weeks too, detailing commitments, events, and to dos. I had a small panic attack.
What is going on? Is every year like this when we switch from summer to the school year? Help!
Let’s just say I was not happy to be so busy, and decided to take a fresh look at my fall schedule.
Sure enough, looking at the calendar suddenly showed me where my priorities are this season. And it made me realize I needed to reevaluate.
First and foremost, I took a big step and stopped putting a pen near my planner
The phrase “Let’s pencil it in” is my best friend now. A calendar filled with pencil marks is so much less intimidating to leaf through!
Next, I took stock …
I looked at how many commitments I had outside of my home that were just for me. Then I looked at my kids’ commitments and my husband’s commitments. We had groups ranging from choir, to volunteering, to book clubs and study groups. Then, I looked at the plans we had made to spend time with various friends and family. Weddings, day trips, movie nights, weeknight dinners and long weekends all filled the coming days.
I decided to list out all the things we had going on, group them, and rank them.
As I explored the various plans we had made, I made a note of what our priorities should be … God, our family, our friends, our community, and finally, our home. I numbered each priority–with God as 1, family as 2, friends as 3, etc. I knew Mass and our personal prayer time had to be prioritized no matter what. If we aren’t putting time into our relationship with our Creator, then ordering the rest of our priorities is pointless.
So, with that at the top, I went through and noted what commitments pertained to what aspects of our life. Day trip to Wichita? That was a 3. Weekly holy hour? That was a 1. Weekend trip to visit family? That was a 2. Then I ordered my weekly and monthly commitments with a similar scale—ranking them on how much they brought me joy or helped me to grow. This helped me decide things like, “While women’s groups and volunteering are important to me, cutting back to one event a month is what I need right now.”
What helped me make each decision was being able to gauge how much time I need during the week to keep with meals, laundry, and tidying the house. Right now I need to do laundry every other day, have an hour to make dinner and get the house in order in the afternoon. I also need 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night to keep things livable. Any commitments that infringe on that time made me take a step back and figure out how I could make up for the time lost or if it was worth it. If people in my family, including myself, are hungry, searching for clean clothes, or surrounded by disorder regularly, they don’t thrive. And then our other more fun commitments suffer as well.
I also realized in a “duh, why didn’t I think of that before” moment that part of my feeling overwhelmed was that we recently had a baby—and adding a third person into the mix of every decision and plan does make life look a little different. I decided that I should slow down on some commitments right now, at what is probably the height of overwhelm, and then add in more as I adjust in the coming weeks.
The final piece in the busyness puzzle this autumn was communication.
I realized that we need a more centralized way to keep track of what’s going on in our lives. I had kept our daily and monthly schedule on a paper calendar for the past several years. But, we now need to avail ourselves of a digital calendar that my husband can access throughout the day so that we could both remain abreast of what’s going on.
So, will my autumn reboot succeed?
On paper it now looks pretty darn good. Instead of glancing at the calendar and quickly looking away because it is overwhelming, I now know that everything on it is there for a good reason, and is ostensibly doable, while keeping our home tidy and happy.
Will the lived experience of that calendar be what I’m expecting? Maybe not. But there are erasers and grace for when we need to change something along the way. Praise God from whom all blessings flow! O happy fall!