Not the kids this time! Right now, my husband is pursuing his Master’s degree in an accelerated program that will have him graduating in May, just 12 months after starting. I’m not sure why, but I thought this would also be the perfect time for me to go back to school too. Maybe I was jealous that everyone else was in school? So now all 5 of us are in school. And it is crazy. Plus our ministry has ramped up and we are counseling two couples each week while still leading or hosting 3 small groups and leading a group of small group leaders. Oh, and then there’s our regular activities at church…praise team and the Connections ministry where we are leaders. Plus the kids activities. I’m tired just writing it all out!
I don’t tell you this so that you feel sorry for me. We have made these choices with prayer and purpose. But it is a crazy time at our house. How are we doing it? ORGANIZATION! This season of busyness has brought to light the need for organization beyond menu planning and clean closets. Here are some tips we have learned:
1. Shared calendars. 4/5 of us (the 6 year old is excluded at this point!) have smartphones and we sync calendars. Every family member has their own calendar (color-coded of course) and we have calendars for special groups. For example, there is a wife calendar, a husband calendar, and a couple calendar. Anything that is for us both goes into the couple calendar. The kids all have their own calendars and there is one for activities that involve all three kids. Then there is a calendar that deals with all-family things. Each person has all the calendars that affect them syncing to their phone (and for us it goes to the computer and iPad too). This way everyone knows what is going on, where we need to be and when. We use the notes section to include instructions such as what to wear and if they need to bring something like a book to occupy time or sports gear for the next activity. We parents see all the calendars so we know exactly what is happening in the family schedule. This helps keep us all moving in the same direction as a team.
2. Boundaries. Now more than ever we are also saying no. No to things that take our focus away from our primary mission. No to people who suck the life out of us. No to requests from others when it is our family time. No to good things that just are God things for us.
3. Scheduled family time. We have scheduled Mondays as non-negotiable family night. Everyone is expected to have work and school finished by dinner time on Mondays so that we can eat together and then play together. Whether swimming at the base pool or playing cards or Wii games, we spend time as a family uninterrupted. We don’t answer calls or texts. We just enjoy each other. This recharges us for the crazy week ahead.
4. School schedules – for the parents! Since my husband and I are both in school too we keep detailed plans of each class. Required online meetings go in the calendars. Before a class starts we make a detailed plan of each week’s assignments and schedule each part of larger projects. This keeps us from rushing around at the end of the semester.
5. Staying connected. Not just with each other, but with outside people too. The tendency for many when things get busy is to stop church activities like LifeGroups and service areas. We have found that when we withdraw from fellowship and service with other believers, everything else suffers. So we plan our time, use it wisely, but we stay involved.
The only way to be successful is to put in the hard work. That means doing the organization and planning that will help keep our family focused during this season of life. I am looking forward to Jonathan’s graduation in May. Then we get three months of calm before he starts on his Master’s of Arts in Religion and Doctorate!