Time and Balance Tuesday – Delegate

One of the true keys to good leadership is the ability to delegate.  Good leaders are not controlling and self-sufficient, but realize that they cannot do everything on their own.  They realize the value of teamwork and look for strengths and skills and potential in those they work with and begin to delegate responsibilities to their team members.

So it is with us as moms with our children.  While we can pray for and encourage and request help from our husbands, we can’t really force them to do anything, and nagging will get a woman nowhere.  We can, however, train our children to be productive, contributing members of the family (not that our husbands are not….hear what I mean here!  😉 ).  This will not be an easy task and one that I am convinced will be on-going, at least to some degree.  I have to watch over my younger ones and check on their progress and handiwork regularly.  I can give instructions to my oldest and trust them to be carried out, but I am a fool if I do not at least occasionally double-check her work and, depending on her mood, I may have to do some extra motivating.  I believe that one of the primary goals of a mother is to train herself out of a job, until the day her last child moves out and hands the job back to her (but surely it will be easier to keep a clean house once they’re all gone, right?!?!?).

So, what should your child be able to do?  Below is a small list of age-approximate (in years) skills a child should possess or be able to learn.  These have been acquired from a wide variety of resources compiled by my mother-in-law through her many years of delegating tasks to her eleven children.  (Yes, you read that correctly.  Eleven!) In the interest of time as I am preparing this post, I am not going to list all the resources.  If, however, you would like to know some of the resources, message me and I will be happy to pass them along later on.  For now, on to some job ideas!

  • put pajamas away (2 to 4)
  • begin to pick up toys (18 months to 4 years)
  • begin to make own bed (2-3)
  • leave the bathroom neat after use (6-10)
  • empty hamper, put dirty clothes in wash area (3-6)
  • put away clean clothes (4-9)
  • fold and separate clean laundry (6-10)
  • begin to wash own clothes (7-10)
  • sort clothes by color, dirt, fabric (8-10)
    • I disagree – we have implemented a color coded-laundry system in our house.  I have four baskets in our laundry room, each is labeled with colored paper.  One is blue, for denim items.  One is purple, for dark items.  One is pink, for light colored items.  One is white, for – you guessed it – whites.  Even my four year old can sort her dirty clothes using this system.
  • clear own place at table (2-5)
  • dust furniture (3-10)
  • set the table (3-7)
  • clear the table (3-7)
  • pick up trash in the yard (4-6)
  • shake area rugs (4-6)
  • spot clean walls (4-6)
  • wipe off door frames (4-6)
  • clean windows and mirrors (4-6)
  • feed pets (5-8)
  • empty wastebaskets (3-6)
  • empty the dishwasher (4-6)
  • load the dishwasher (6-8)

This is just a small sample of jobs you can begin to teach your young children.  Obviously, some of it will depend on your child’s temperament and level of responsibility.  But I firmly believe that children will rise to our expectations.  If we set our expectations high (not ridiculously so, but enough to challenge them), our children will invariably rise to meet them.  The unusually busy schedule that we have been maintaining these past few months has challenged me to find new ways our girls can help around the house and they are being expected to learn many new skills and take on many new challenges.  I simply cannot run this house by myself, they have to help.  I also believe that, while they may grumble, children want to contribute to the family.  I find that, invariably, my children will finish working in the yard for an hour much more satisfied and happy than if they had spent that hour watching television, even though letting them watch television would have definitely been easier on us all.

Another very important way to “delegate” is by asking for prayer.  I am blessed to have a husband, parents/parents-in-law, and many friends whom I can ask for prayer from.  I have several friends I can text “flare prayer” requests to, and I know that I will be lifted up right then and there.  As I said the first week, the only way to live this life well is to live it in the presence of the Most High and prayer is our constant channel of communication with Him.  He desires relationship with us, He desires to know us.  How blessed and privileged we are!  And how little we make use of this great gift of prayer.  Instead of making it our last resort, let us learn to make it our first option.  Let us pray early and often throughout the day, coming continually before the throne of the Living God with our needs and the needs of those we love.  I believe we will be amazed by the power of it all.

What can you delegate this week?  Is there something on your growing “to do” list that you can have someone else do, even if you have to pay them?  Sometimes our time and stress level is worth the monetary investment of letting someone else do the work for us.  What can you train your children to do?  Who can you share prayer requests with to bear the burdens of daily life?

I’m praying that God is using these weekly posts to draw you close to Him and to simplify your life, even in small ways.  Don’t want to miss a post?  Subscribe by clicking the link on the right.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Next week – more tips!


Time and Balance (Take Two) – Make a Schedule


It is rather sheepishly that I come here today to write this post.  Who am I to speak on Time and Balance, when I struggle so much with it all myself?  As I shared in last week’s post, I am still a work in progress and the Lord keeps me humble and He continually teaches me new things in this (and countless other) areas.  And it also seems that as soon as the routine is found, something comes along to mix it up again.  So I hope you will graciously, and prayerfully, read my words today and be able to put at least some of them to good use.

We have talked in previous weeks about the most important place to begin and about striving to slow down life and slow down time.

The first thing to do when trying to tame time and all of life’s activities is to make a schedule.  Organizing your days leads to a (more) organized life.  I am a “paper person”, so I like to keep an old-fashioned day planner on an easel in my kitchen.  Obviously, the more modern method would be to use your smart phone, the calendar on your computer, or any other number of electronic options.  I thoroughly enjoy the process of writing out all that needs to be done and the (very satisfying) act of marking those items off.

A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.

~ Annie Dillard

I keep a variety of schedules and lists that relate to our daily lives.  I have schedules for school (daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly).  Most of that is on the computer and only the week’s lessons are printed off each Monday morning.  I have the day planner in which I keep track of personal and family events and appointments.  I also write my to do list in this.  I do enter far off appointments and library book due dates into the computer so that it can pop up a reminder to me.  I am simply not faithful enough to sync my phone with my computer to use iCal for everything.  That, and I just don’t enjoy the process as much.  I have lists and schedules for projects that need to be done around the house and items that I am saving up money for.  Keeping little goals over time results in great progress when we are faithful to stick with the process.

The number one rule of a schedule is to make one.  The number two rule, though, especially with children involved, is to keep it flexible.  Don’t be so bound to your list that you can’t bend when life demands it.  Don’t be like Henry Kissinger who said, “There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.”  Which takes us back to the concept of saying “no” to things so that we still have some margin left in our days.  😉

What about you?  What systems have you found to be helpful in keeping your schedule organized?

Come back next Tuesday when we will share more practical tips for taming time.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Time and Balance – Slow Down Time

It’s a funny thing how God never lets me forget how desperately I need Him for every moment, every breath.  Ever since agreeing to share on this topic my life feels like it has been a whirlwind.  Life is always a whirlwind, but before it felt like a manageable one, with fixed stops built in to most weeks.  Some were out of hand, but I guarded our time closely.  This year, though…oh, this year.  My comment last week to a friend was that my “new normal” is a constant sense of drowning.  So, I still have much to learn in the slow down department.  But I am well aware of the need and the distinct feeling that life was meant for more than all this crazy running around.  So how does the slowing down happen when the world seems determined to keep us all so busy?

For me it has required a real heart-change and a true lifestyle change, and it is a thing that is on-going, constantly re-examining, re-evaluating.  It is a thing that is specific to each woman and her family.  It begins by knowing your priorities and your limits.  Everyone’s priorities will be different.  My priorities are:  my relationship with Christ, an excellent marriage, my kids’ hearts, and an orderly home (easier to write on a screen than to execute in real life). Everything else in life has to come after that, except maybe the house keeping part….sometimes it has to wait, because as task-oriented as I am, I do know that people are more important than my to do list and the laundry and dishes will wait, while time won’t.   That said, we make time for what matters most to us. Yes, there are seasons of life when we are slaves to the tyranny of the urgent and we simply do not have time for something, but this should not characterize our life.  The things that are most important to us will consistently rise to the top of our to do lists and we will inevitably find time for those things.

The next part is knowing your own limits and learning to say no.  We all have different limits on how much we can juggle.  I am a poor juggler and I can always tell I have too many balls in the air by how the house is holding together, by how my children are treating each other, and by how I am responding to my children and my husband.  I have had to learn to say no to many things.  Things I want to do.  Things the children want to do.  Things that seem important or sound like just plain fun.  I cannot do everything in life and do it well.  I have to choose the things that I want to be excellent at and focus on those things or I will be mediocre at everything.

There are so many good opportunities out there.  Opportunities for our children, for our families, for us as women….it’s truly overwhelming, all the things we could participate in.  But if I say yes to all the good things, I may find that I miss out on the best things, and sometimes the best things are just being quiet at home, enjoying the people God has given us to live this life with.  Simple life, simple pleasures.

One wise (and Spirit-led) friend sent me this quote a couple of years ago.  I do not know what I had planned that day, I only know it was going to be an insanely busy day in which it would have been extremely easy to ignore or be unkind to my children and these words cut straight to my heart….

Busyness is not Godliness.  God is not impressed with your production capacity as much as He is concerned that the product of your home – your own children – be chiseled and molded and perfected to the best of your ability.  You may tire of this mundane task, but the Lord admonishes you not to grow weary and promises to supply the energy and strength as needed in this all-important task (Isaiah 40:28-31).  God’s strength is for what He plans for you to do – not stamina for everything you might want to do. ~ Dorothy Patterson

God has gently, over the past few years, been teaching me to slow down.  I look at my girls and that my oldest is a ten year old fifth grader and I see how quickly time is going. I want to grab it, to stop the hands of time, to gather up these moments and savor them.  If I am constantly going my own direction, doing my own thing, or too busy taxi-ing my children to every single activity they can or want to be involved in, then I cannot slow down to savor life.  Frank Clark (don’t ask me who he is) said, “A child, like your stomach, doesn’t need all you can afford to give it.” I might add that we as grown ups don’t either.

What about you?  If you look honestly at your schedule, what do you need to cut out?  What can you do to slow down the relentless rushing current of time?  May I encourage you to pray about it this week?  I know I will be daily.  I know life was meant for more than rushing all over town in my SUV.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

~Mark 6:31


Next week we’ll begin discussing some  practical, every day ways to balance all we have on our plates.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

Time and Balance – Figuring Out Where to Start

It’s hard to know where to begin a lot of the time.  Whether it be with an organizing or cleaning project, home work, breaking or making a habit, or whatever else, we can spend a lot of time just thinking about what to do first.  Truth be told, beginning this series has been no different.  When I shared with the moms group, I wanted to save the most important points for last, to hold their attention (ideally) and to facilitate the memory of what I felt mattered most.  And also, thoughts and suggestions delivered in person are often received differently when facial expressions and verbal inflection can be used, than from a faceless, voiceless screen.  Here it seems we should start with what matters most, for if I spend weeks offering hints and tips, a reader may spend those weeks continuing to flounder when she could start out learning to grow and I will pray for God to speak to the readers, to impart the heart of the message and not all the human imperfections.

And so, we will start with what matters most – cultivating Christ.  Without His strength, grace, and peace, none of the rest of this works.  Without a relationship with Him, none of the rest of this matters.  We must first seek to grow in Christ, if we are to be fruitful in other areas.

Giving practical tips on how to organize your home or more efficiently manage your time, based on what gifts I’ve been given or things I’ve learned through the years, is simple enough.  You can take the tips or leave them.  But to come here and to attempt to tell you how to grow in Christ is a little different.  One’s relationship with her Savior is a much more personal, individual matter, and I am no expert in these things.  But I have walked sixteen years with Him, many of them stumbling and being carried, and He has been faithful to teach me every step of the way.  So perhaps, instead of telling you what to do per se, I can encourage you to press on, carry on, and follow hard.

The reality of knowing Jesus comes as result of hidden prayer, and personal Bible study that is devotional and consistent in nature.  Christ becomes more real to those who persist in cultivating His presence.” Streams in the Desert.

Cultivating Christ starts out simply – daily time with Him and asking Him to reveal Himself to you, to be present in your life, and to give you a hunger for His Word.  Nothing could be more within His will than for us to seek a relationship with Him, and the Bible tells us that when we ask for something in His will, He will give it.  Faith often requires acting on things unseen, so we must keep stepping out, trusting Him to be there.  Even when we don’t feel it, pursue Him.

There are many helpful things I hope to share in the coming weeks of this series, but the most important thing you will do as a woman, wife, mother, friend, is cultivate your relationship with Christ.  This has to come at the cost of everything else.  Nothing is more important than this.

Would you like to know more about a relationship with Jesus Christ?  Click here.

Streams in the Desert has been a life changing devotional for me.  God has used it countless, countless times to water this barren soul.  Click here to order your own copy.

Next week we’ll talk about the elusive idea of slowing down.

For His Glory ~

~ Sara

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Time and Balance Tuesday

In the past couple of weeks, I have had many friends ask me for notes from what I shared at our local mom’s group meeting on the topic of Time and Balance and Being Who God Created You To Be.

I have decided to do a short series on here, starting next Tuesday.  If it really takes off, maybe we’ll keep it going!  So, tell your friends and go ahead and subscribe by clicking the button on the right side of the page.  That way you’ll be sure not to miss anything!

I’m looking forward to seeing what God does with this!  Have terrific Tuesday, friends!

~ Sara