B is for Boundaries

For the month of April I’m blogging alphabetically about quick, easy, and practical ways to relieve stress. To see the other posts in this series, click here.

2014-01-30 11.31.04Boundaries. I’ve always heard I need to enforce them. Never knew how to get them in the first place.

If I think about money, boundaries make sense to me. Our household has a certain amount of money. With that money we need to do really important stuff like buy food and pay the electric bill. There is a lot of other stuff I’d like to buy with money, but the necessities have to come first. Then, when it comes to the fun stuff, it’s much better to live within our means than to go in to debt. All of that makes sense to me.

My time and my emotions are also valuable commodities. Wow! What an epiphany.

Now that I realize this, I can see that I need to make big changes when it comes to time. I have the same 24 hours a day and 7 days a week that everyone else has. I need to prioritize that time better. First comes the really important stuff like sleeping and eating. These are usually the first things I try to skimp on or cut out of my day when I’m running low on time. But, in reality, they are the really important stuff  – just like buying food and paying the electric bill are really important when it comes to money. Next comes my obligations to my family, like educating my children. Then comes down time – my children deserve free time with me and my husband especially deserves free time with me. All of this stuff needs to fit into my life. Only after I have all of this stuff working should I consider volunteering or helping out with some other project.

In some ways, this idea feels really selfish to me. The reality is: I like to help, and I have a really hard time saying no. Those two are a fatal combination. I need to set boundaries for myself when it comes to time. After I fit in all the stuff mentioned above, I can see how much time I have left. Whatever is left is the only time I have to share with others in this particular season of my life.

When I set appropriate boundaries with my time, my stress level will decrease because I will be giving my body the rest and nutrition it needs, plus I won’t be pulled in a million different directions and always on the go.

Somehow, this same principle applies to my emotions. I’ll need a little more time to figure that part out. Emotions aren’t concrete, but they have a real impact on my life and stress levels. I’ll be pondering how to apply boundaries to how I allow other people to effect my emotions. Do you have any tips for me? I definitely need some advice to get started.

I forgot Z!

All April long, I blogged alphabetically about Adjusting to Life to Life with Baby Number 5. Click here to see all the posts in this series.

My oldest holding my youngest. It feels like my oldest ought to be about the size of my youngest.

My oldest holding my youngest. It feels like my oldest ought to be about the size of my youngest.

I don’t know how I managed to do this,  but I forgot to write my Z post in April! I could just kick myself because, even with falling behind, I was on target to write my last post on April 30. I can’t believe I messed that up!

My Z post was going to be about time ZIPPING by. And how time seems to go even faster with the addition of each child. Old ladies always tell me things like “Before you know it they will be  (graduating/ moving out/getting married/etc.) ” I believe them because I already can’t believe how fast months, years, and even pregnancies are starting to fly by. But, since April has come and gone,  I’ll just leave it at that.

Sorry, everyone! Hopefully, I won’t forget poor little Z next year.

Mass: It Fits in the Schedule!

massWhen I first imagined myself homeschooling, one of the perks was the ability to take my kids to daily Mass. Three years later, that is finally becoming a reality. As with so many other areas where I feel called to grow, I had a list of excuses of why it just couldn’t work. My most prominent excuse was our schedule.

If only Mass were earlier. Or later. Either would be more manageable. How could I possibly go to Mass at 9AM and have any semblance of a reasonable daily schedule? How would we ever get anything done?

While visiting with a friend recently, we were chatting about the unreasonable expectations we place on ourselves in the context of our homeschools. In the course of this conversation, I discovered that one of my unspoken expectations was that we must be done with our school day by lunch time. Why? I don’t really know. Other than for bragging rights. You know, something along the lines of, “Oh look how efficient and productive we are. We finish school by lunch and then have the whole day to play and enjoy childhood.”  Yup. That’s about how my thought process went.

Discovering this was a major revelation for me and, best of all, released me from my scheduling hang up. Granted, it took me a few days to come to terms with this revelation, (Yes, I’m ever so graceful when it comes to change.) but once I did, our whole day opened up! I love our new schedule and the icing on the cake is: so far, we haven’t gone past lunch time with our book work! It is so true that when we make time for God, he allows everything else to fall in to place.

Just in case you’re curious, this is what our day looks like right now. I know my family well enough to know that there are many areas I can’t put tasks in order or schedule them into 15 minute increments. In these instances, I simply schedule blocks of time. The routine in that area may vary some each day, but I allot enough time for us to get it all done. This flexibility is also incredibly useful for the days when we’re not exactly “on schedule.”

6:00AM – Mommy’s alarm goes off. Ideally, I get up and exercise, but, unfortunately, I have a rather strong tendency towards sloth. Some Most days I just hit snooze.

6:30-8:30 AM – Everyone gets ready. We get dressed, I shower, nurse the baby, serve breakfast, etc.

9:00 AM – MASS!! Truly, the highlight of our day. Sometimes, thanks to my not-so-angelic children it’s also the low point. Thanks be to God, even when it’s the low point, it’s still the highlight!

10:30ish – We get home from Mass. It just depends on how long we chat afterwards.

10:30ish-12:00 – Formal lessons and bookwork.

12:00PM – We stop to pray the Angelus and sing the Salve Regina.

12:05 – 1:00PM – Lunch and free time.

1:00-3:00 PM – QUIET TIME! (It’s almost as good as Mass.) The little ones (and cranky ones) nap. Other options are reading, praying, or quietly working on a project that requires no assistance. No group activities allowed. In the future this will also be a great time for studying, test taking, researching, etc. (This concept may seem odd. One day I really will write a post about the value of silence to further explain why I find this so important!)

3:00PM – Those who are awake pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

3:15-5:30PM – Finish lessons (if needed), art or science projects, chores, free time.

5:30ish – Dinner.

6:00-9:00ish. Family time. Baths. Prayers. Goodnight!

9:00-10:30PM Mommy and Daddy time.

10:30PM – Lights out everywhere. Sweet dreams!

Despite having our day planned out, I am certainly not opposed to impromptu water gun fights or trips to the park or visits to/from friends. This flexibility is one of the many things I love about homeschooling and one of the reasons our family chooses to school year round. But that’s a topic for another time…

Called To Tithe Our Time?

I had a little epiphany tonight that I just thought I’d share. If we were to tithe our time as we tithe our money (And why wouldn’t we? Our time is very much a gift and every bit as valuable, perhaps more so, than our money.), I figure the average person should spend about 1.6 hours with the Lord each day. Assuming the average person gets 8 hours of sleep each night (I know, laughable, right?) he/she would be awake for 16 hours each day. 10% of 16 hours is 1.6 hours. However, that’s kind of like tithing based on net income as opposed to gross. I know some people who feel very strongly that tithes should be based on gross income. Applying that logic, we should each spend 2.4 hours with the Lord each day. I was blown away by this thought, as such a thought had never occurred to me before. Yet, upon further reflection, it seems that this, also like a monetary tithe, is just the jumping off point. After all we are called to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) Isn’t amazing what one can come up with when she’s not spending her idle time on facebook? :)