Most of my married life, I’ve been pregnant or nursing a baby.
It’s difficult to get much of anything done during the child-bearing years. Basic life essentials like nutrition and sleep become paramount priorities, as well they should.
Many dreams, aspirations and hobbies are put on the back burner for another season, and that’s okay. Yet, I want to share an experience I had about 10 years ago that changed my thinking about managing my time.
Pregnant with child #5, I was at a homeschool meeting one night. My three little boys, all under 8 and our 16 year-old daughter were at home with my husband while I was out. During a conversation with an older mom at the meeting, we got to talking about quilting. She was an avid quilter and was sharing about some of her projects. Jealously rose up within me as I longed to learn to quilt. However, I quickly came to terms once again in my mind that the season of life I was in just wouldn’t allow for it.
In my optimism, I had been saving fabric for quilting squares in my basement for a “someday” that never came. Actually, I had even started a little quilt, but never found the time to finish it. Frustrated with the thought of that fabric laying in my basement for another 20 years, I offered it to the woman. She said something very interesting to me that I never forgot.
“Don’t give away your fabric!” she said. ”If you keep waiting for a big, block of time to come along when the kids ‘grow up’, let me tell you now that it never comes. When the kids get older, life gets even busier. You need to do what interests you, little by little, even if you only have 15 minutes at a time“.
I kept the fabric.
Accomplishing tasks in a 15-minute time period isn’t a new concept. There has been much written for the business world about being more effective using 15 minute increments of time.
Being a busy mom isn’t quite the same as working in the corporate world, though. May my time management skills never resemble that of an office environment! However, over the years of being a wife and mother, I have come to realize that there is merit to this “15-minute” thing.
10-15 minute increments of time can actually work quite well in the busyness of small children and family life. There are a couple of things to keep in mind first:
*At home, you’re dealing with small humans (children) who cannot be rushed to fit into your schedule.
*Emotions don’t respond well to time limits and shouldn’t have to. If you are having a wonderful cuddle time with your child, forget the clock. Some things are way more important.
*This isn’t to emphasize how to squeeze more out of every minute, it’s about fitting more into the day you have.
There are many things as a mom that you may want to tackle but can’t find the time to do them. Take for example the quilting idea. If I wait for an evening to come where I’ll have hours to work on a project, I’ll be waiting for eternity. But, if I decide that for the next 15 minutes that I am going to do something having to do with quilting, that’s doable.
Perhaps I’ll look at a quilting book and get some ideas.
I could cut some squares.
I could sew a row together.
I could pin layers together.
See what I mean? Now, let me address the perfectionists (me!) who might struggle with not being able to finish something as quickly as you may like….get over it.
Coming to terms with the fact that you won’t be finishing as soon as someone else is critical, and I’ll admit that this was hard for me. Yet, if I wanted to have the opportunity to have a hobby during these years, that was just the way it had to be.
With scrapbooking, it’s truly 15 minutes at a time. One day, I might just sort through a file of pictures and decide what is worth keeping. The next time I have a chance to work on it, I might quickly choose my papers and embellishments. I have to get okay with laying it down, over and over again.
Finding a way to wrap up the project quickly is another key to being successful with this. If it’s one of those long-term projects, keep a file folder or a rubbermaid box to put all of your supplies in and put it away. That way, you can free the space up for more everyday tasks and not feel like a failure because you didn’t finish this time.
You will eventually finish! Taking longer to complete a project is better than never having started or talking yourself out of it altogether.
People often ask me how I get so much read and/or done. I use this method all the time. I read books 15 minutes at a time….seriously. I drag a small notebook and a book I’m working on around with me in the car, just in case I find myself waiting and have a few spare minutes.
One final point, your newly found 15 minute increments don’t necessarily have to be for tasking. Taking those moments for personal reflection, to build relationships or to pray are important as well. Make the time work for you.
What Can You Do in 15 Minutes?
1. Make some coffee.
2. Throw in some laundry.
3. Fold a load or two of laundry.
4. Plan a grocery list.
5. Read a book or two to a little one.
6. Scrub a bathroom.
7. Vacuum the house.
8. Make appointments by phone.
9. Work on a birthday list for a child.
10. Order something on-line.
11. Clear out your email box.
12. Read your favorite blog.
13. Start a pot of pasta for dinner.
14. Clean the bathroom mirrors.
15. Empty out the kid’s back packs.
16. Go out and turn your compost, then pull a few weeds.
17. Check the top-of-the-hour news.
18. Go milk a goat.
19. Empty the dishwasher and feed the dog.
20. Call your best friend and tell them that you are praying for them.
What else can you add?
All pictures from google images