Tag Archives: Scheduling

A Schedule Can Help with Depression

I struggled with depression on and off for about twelve years. Many of you who regularly read the Mom’s Corners have seen me talk about those battles before.

Those were difficult and dark days, not only for me but also for my family. In a previous Mom’s Corner I shared about that battle and several of the things the Lord used to help pull me out of depression. In this Mom’s Corner, I want to focus on a specific tool that helped me navigate life in the midst of depression and care for the needs of a young and growing family.

When the Lord called our family to homeschool and then began giving us more children, my ability to keep up with the childcare responsibilities, housework, cooking, laundry, plus homeschooling, failed. Falling behind with those tasks caused stress, worry, guilt, and a host of other negative emotions such as anger, frustration, and impatience.

Time Management Tool

When I asked the Lord for help, He began to teach me to schedule. “I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication” (Psalm 142:1). Since I had a home to run, which had many similarities to a small business, I needed time management skills to do so. Back then, I didn’t have time to read books on time management, nor would I probably have found any that dealt with time management for a stay-at-home mom who was homeschooling. However, I am excited to find that what the Lord taught me years ago about time management in a home is exactly what time-management experts recommend in the business world today. Time management is powerful in business, and it was powerful for me with the specific needs I had as a stay-at-home mom with children to care for and educate.

I started putting together a daily schedule to help direct my time usage, and also the children’s. I used a paper and notebook. There was much erasing and rewriting, but it gave me a basis for my day. (Now we have a scheduling kit that comes with Managers of Their Homes, and also ScheduleBreeze, which is an add-on scheduling software for Managers of Their Homes users. )

The Schedule Makes Decisions

While scheduling has been beneficial in a multitude of ways in our home through the years, I want to deal specifically with how it impacted me during my depression. A depressed person doesn’t make decisions well, nor are they motivated to do much of anything. Because of my love for my husband and children, I had a desire to care for their needs. Having a schedule gave me direction for how to use my time. I didn’t have to make decisions; they were already made for me. I had direction through the schedule. When the mind is tracking things that need to be done and decisions that need to be made, it is an extra weight.

I remember back then listening to Elisabeth Elliot’s radio program for Christian women, called “Gateway to Joy.” She would say, “Just do the next thing,” to encourage women to keep up with daily tasks. My schedule told me what my “next thing” was when, in my depression, I could not figure it out.

A Schedule Gives Sense of Accomplishment

That schedule also allowed me to have a feeling of accomplishment at the end of each day, rather than being saddled with a burden of all that was left undone. As a depressed woman, consider what sitting and doing nothing—which is typical in depression—would have done to deepen that depression, versus the positive aspects of caring for my family and keeping up with the home management plus homeschooling. I know that this was a vital part of helping me through and out of the depression, whereas without the schedule, I would have spiraled deeper and further into it.

Moms write me who are living with depression, and they often say that their homes are out of control. They also tell me that they aren’t spending any time with Jesus. Of course, they share the deepness of their misery, and I more than understand their feelings. Putting together and using a schedule brings structure back to their lives. I’ve seen countless times how depressed moms are encouraged when they follow their schedule. It does for them what it did for me.

A Schedule Renews a Depressed Mind

The most important part of a schedule is to plan daily time to spend in Bible reading and prayer. “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” (Psalm 63:1). There is nothing a depressed mom needs more than to be spiritually nourished. God’s Word will give her the help she needs for many of her emotional struggles, just like it did for me. For example, when she reads this,  “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4), she probably thinks, “But, Lord, I don’t feel like rejoicing. I just feel sad and unhappy.”

She might also read, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Hopefully, she will then decide to choose to rejoice rather than letting her feelings rule her. Victory begins to come to her, step by step, just as it did for me.

A Schedule Helps Many Moms

I honestly believe that a schedule helps not only a depressed mom, but also most other stay-at-home moms. All the benefits the depressed mom realizes with her schedule are ones that other moms will experience as well. Perhaps that schedule will keep the mom who isn’t depressed from becoming depressed. The schedule certainly brings peace and productivity to days that can be chaotic and stressful. There is a wealth of information in Managers of Their Homes that allows me to come alongside you as you learn about scheduling and implement a schedule for your time.

Stress Busters – Part 1

Stress is a terrible taskmaster. Sometimes it can feel like it is crushing us, and we not only have an emotional response to it but also a physical response. I can’t help but wonder if those feelings aren’t triggers to remind us that the Lord doesn’t want us to bear burdens alone.

Stress Busters for Homeschool Moms

One of the most important stress-busters that the Lord has given to me is my schedule. Years ago when I was still having babies and homeschooling, the Lord began to teach me about scheduling. That schedule alleviated many stressors I faced on a daily basis. Those stressors are ones that most moms will have in their lives. A schedule is the Lord’s direction for using my time to accomplish the responsibilities He has given to me. When I am doing that, the stressors are disarmed and not effective in their bombardment of my emotions. Let me share with you a few recent examples of how a schedule helped relieve stress for moms.

Consider the stress of a newborn in the family. However, here is what a mom wrote to me when her baby was about 4 weeks old:

“Having a schedule already in place when Joseph was born has proved to be invaluable. Some days have been a struggle, but other days like today have been amazing! Today the house is tidy, the children have been on schedule—it feels great! I have tried to remain on the schedule as much as possible. I know that the benefits will continue to be reaped in the many months and years to come.”

Dealing with Stress and Physical Illness

Then there is the stress than comes when one is struggling with an illness. Another mom recently told me about how her schedule has helped her in the midst of her illness:

“The bedtime/waketime have helped me in so many ways. The main way is how I feel. Even though I still have adrenal fatigue, the tiredness during the day has lessened because my body is getting more regulated sleep and more sleep earlier at night. Also, since I have struggled with self-discipline for a long time, it feels so victorious to get up and go to bed at the same times and know how beneficial that is to have an organized, productive day. It certainly will help my health as well!”

Stress Buster for Being Away from Home

Perhaps you are facing stress from having to be away from home for one reason or another. Can a schedule be a stress-buster for this situation? This mom had pre-surgery appointments on Monday and Wednesday with surgery on Friday. Here is how her schedule relieved stress for her:

“On Monday and Wednesday the family carried on and worked hard and pretty much stayed on task. They knew what to do and did it! We are finally seeing some consistent productivity; I am so very pleased with where we are right now.”

Then there are the normal, everyday stressful events that busy moms face continually. For me, my schedule prevented much of that stress. Here is what one mom told me happened in her home after just four weeks on her schedule.

“Laundry is being kept up—clean clothes and towels every day.

The children have been consistently doing their chores.

The kitchen and kitchen sink are much cleaner more consistently, and I’ve noticed that directly affects my mood :).

We are saving money on house keepers that were coming in once a week.

I feel so much better about ministry as a wife, mother, and homemaker. I feel like I am finally honoring my husband and the Lord with my efforts in our home. I can only explain it as pure joy in my heart. 🙂

There is a peace in our home now.

Even our older children having been responding so well to the schedule.

After being on a schedule now for several weeks, it isn’t intimidating anymore. Before starting this I really felt like it was too big of a task, and I was worried about being too restricted in my life or tied to a schedule but it was just the opposite. I am experiencing so much more freedom by getting our daily tasks done, and one very nice benefit to that is feeling like I am doing the tasks that God has called me to do. It’s a wonderful feeling. 🙂

My husband told me that when he comes home and things are looking so good and dinner is being cooked and the children are NOT running wild, he feels loved, and he feels like I really care about him and our family. He confessed that before when he would walk into our home in complete chaos, he thought I didn’t care or maybe I had given up. I’m not sure if I had already told you this or not. He keeps mentioning things like this to me :). That made me so happy to hear. It also let me know just how much our previous chaotic life hurt him and our marriage.”

Managers of Their Homes

Scheduling Key to Stress-Busting

Isn’t that amazing? All she did was make and implement a schedule! I desire these kinds of outcomes in my home, and I believe you do too

A schedule is the key for many. Our book Managers of Their Homes will help you toward a schedule if you don’t already have one.

We are facing the beginning of a new year soon, and there is no better time to begin a schedule or make revisions to one that isn’t being used effectively. The days between Christmas and New Year’s often provide a few hours for a mom that aren’t as hectic as the earlier part of the holiday season or as full as normal daily life can be.

That would be the perfect opportunity to ask the Lord for His direction for your schedule. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

Why battle stressors in your life when you can eliminate them? There are plenty of stressful things that we have no control over. A schedule, however, gives us a great amount of control over some major stressors in home life. Making a schedule is worth the time investment in order to gain the benefits it affords.

Time to Schedule!

For many moms, August means that the return of school is just around the corner. The slower-paced days of summer are the perfect time to prepare for the routine that school days bring to your home. That way when school starts, you will be prepared for productivity and efficiency. I want to encourage you that a daily schedule is the key to bringing order to your life and accomplishing all that needs to be done in your home.

There are so many benefits to using a schedule that I love directing busy moms toward learning to make and use a schedule. I believe a schedule is vital for relieving the stress that moms often find themselves living under as they try to be a good wife, mom, homemaker, and maybe even homeschooler. Any one of those jobs is hard enough by itself, but as you put them together, the potential for falling behind and getting discouraged is magnified.

“Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). In this verse, Paul is specifically talking about order within a church worship service. I believe, however, that we can apply it even more universally to many areas of our Christian walk and see that it could easily relate to God’s desire for order in our time usage. A schedule allows us to have that order for our time and for our children’s time as well.

“Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16). How do we redeem our time? I think that is done by being productive and efficient with the time God gives to each of us. My schedule facilitates the organization of my day that has an outcome of redeeming the time.

When I use a schedule, I know exactly what I need to do next. There is no time spent trying to figure out what is the most important task to dive into, and there is no time wasted getting sidetracked with the unimportant. I simply follow my schedule.

Some have questioned whether using a schedule prevents one from being able to follow the Lord’s leading in their lives. My experience is just the opposite. As I pray about my schedule, seeking the Lord’s direction for how my time is used, I am doing exactly what He wants me to do with the hours He has given me. Without the schedule, I find myself drawn into time-wasting activities, usually driven by my selfish flesh, that don’t focus on His best plan for the days He has entrusted to me.

“Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:17-18). God’s will for my life is the foundation of my schedule. It is His Spirit that directs the schedule, enables me to follow it, and shows me when to be flexible within it. Here are links to two Mom’s Corners I wrote on this topic of whether following the Lord and a schedule are antagonistic or compatible: Can a Scheduled Mom Be Spirit-Led? Part 1 and Can a Scheduled Mom Be Spirit-Led? Part 2.

A schedule directs not only you but also your children. I can’t tell you how often moms write me and say that they decided to take a break from their schedules for the summer but discovered it meant disaster. The disaster came about because the children had too much free time, which resulted in a great amount of squabbling and bickering among them. It also was hard to get the children to do their chores. In addition, all that the mom hoped to accomplish during the summer didn’t end up happening, because there was no schedule to help her keep up with life. She will end her e-mail by telling me that next summer she plans to put together a summer schedule to avoid the problems and gain the benefits her school-year schedule provides for her and her children.

Your children will be well occupied and productive with a schedule. That means you know what they are to be doing at any given moment of the day. You don’t call them each day for chore time if they are at an age to be able to read the clock for themselves. If you are a homeschooling mom, a schedule will enable your children to accomplish their schoolwork each day and keep that schoolwork contained within time boundaries. The schedule builds order and variety into the children’s days. With that order and variety, boredom is more limited, and so is typical sibling fussing.

As I use a schedule, I love the sense of contentment it gives me. That contentment arises from knowing that I’m accomplishing what the Lord wants me to do. I feel it when I can look back after a day and know exactly how my time was spent. My schedule brings joy to my heart because it carves out time for what is the most important to me—my Lord Jesus, my husband, and my children.

There is time in the schedule to spend alone with the Lord. That is special time to read the Word and pray. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). It is necessary nourishment for my soul, and it happens every single day because it is part of the schedule. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

Managers of Their Homes If you could use help in making a schedule, I recommend Managers of Their Homes to you. That book gently takes you step by step through the scheduling process, and it has a Scheduling Kit to make it even easier. If you have the book already, dust it off, review it, get your Scheduling Kit back out, and spend some time preparing a schedule to be in place when school begins.

ScheduleBreezeSome who have Managers of Their Homes may not know that there is now a companion software available to help you make up your schedule if you would prefer to do it on the computer rather than on paper. I love the drag and drop functionality of Schedule Breeze, the ease of revising a schedule, and the ability to print it out for my reference and the children’s. You might as well. Schedule Breeze costs $15 per year, but that is a very small cost compared to the benefits a schedule brings to a home.

My life has been so very blessed by using a schedule, and I have been able to help countless moms receive the same blessing. May I encourage you to take some time before school begins to prayerfully work on your schedule? Be prepared when school starts to utilize this powerful tool the Lord has given you for bringing productivity to your time, order to your home, contentment to your heart, and joy to your spirit. I think you will be as excited about using a schedule as I am.

As I conclude this series of Mom’s Corners on topics to help you be productive with your summer days in order to be prepared for the start of school, I want to share a testimony with you that I hope will encourage you in making use of tools that are available to help you in this process.

“I wanted to write a quick note to say Thank You!! To keep this short, my husband and I never thought we would have a ‘large’ family, homeschool, or that I would ever give up my career to raise children.

“We are now pregnant with our fourth child. I have been a stay-at-home mom since the birth of our first child. After I heard his first cry, I decided I would not leave him in daycare. Everyone said I would get over it and just needed to work through it. But I simply couldn’t do it. So, my husband and I started trying our best to figure out how to live on his income. IT WAS UGLY.

“The only thing uglier was my homemaking skills! Seriously, I didn’t know how to make a hot dog in the microwave when we got married! YIKES.

“I love being a homeschooling mom and REALLY appreciated your books: Managers of Their Homes, Managers of Their Chores, and Managers of Their Schools. They have REVOLUTIONIZED our home!! I appreciated being mentored by you through your writings. Before I read the books, I had a heart to provide a happy, organized, clean environment but had NO IDEA where to start. My hubby and I are just THRILLED with how God has blessed our home through your books.

“We are doing so much better at feeling more secure that we are allowing God to grow our family because our home is in order now. Our kids are doing great and so are Mom andDad. Now we feel like we have a game plan for how to run our home even with a new baby on the way.” Stephanie

We are reprinting Managers of Their Schools, so I was rereading it for any necessary updates. As I went through it, I was as excited and enthusiastic about the information in it and the potential it has to transform homeschools as I was when we wrote it. The same is true for Managers of Their Homes and Managers of Their Chores.

May I encourage you to get your home organized before the start of the school year?

From Lazy to Self-Disciplined – Part 6

The purpose of this series of articles has been to encourage moms who want to become more self-disciplined in their lives. We began with this e-mail:

I was wondering if you had any advice (or possibly you could address this in a Mom’s Corner) on how someone can improve her work ethic. I am terribly embarrassed to admit this, but I really feel like at times I can be lazy. I know there are things that need to be done, but I just don’t feel like doing them! I realize that this is a sinful attitude, and I want to change. Do other moms struggle with this? Would you have any tips on how I can improve or Bible verses that could encourage me in this area? Self-discipline is a character quality I would very much like to see flourish in my life, and I would like to pass it on to my children!

As we wrap up our series, we are continuing to look at ways other moms move themselves from a lazy lifestyle to the disciplined heart they greatly desire. Amber shares this with us:

I really love your Mom’s Corners. They seem to help me out, and they are food for thought. I wanted to let you know lazy to self-disciplined really hit home to me for it seemed to be something that I struggle with daily.

Second I remind myself that it does not ALL have to be done TODAY! As women, we seem to think of a million things that must be done. However, the reality is just one thing at a time. There are some days where I can only do it five minutes at a time. I have five darling children, the oldest is six and the youngest is a month old. There are days when hubby comes home and asks what I did all day. I tell him two things—I nursed the baby and made dinner with one hand. Sometimes that is all I can do, but as long as I have a relationship with my Heavenly Father and am actively pursuing it, I know He will bless me with the strength and knowledge that I need.

This verse encourages me, If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed (James 1:5-6).” Amber

Amber directs us to the ultimate source of our self-discipline—the Lord Jesus. Making self-discipline a focus by praying and studying the Word, she is allowing the Lord to the transform her life, give her the energy she needs, and help her make choices away from laziness.

When Amber tells her husband all she did was to nurse the baby and make dinner with one hand, we know she did much more than that. She spent time with the Lord in the Word early in the morning, got the children up and dressed, fed them breakfast, cleaned up the kitchen, brushed the little ones’ teeth, made beds, picked up toys, directed the children in their play, washed laundry, fed the children lunch, put them down for their naps, homeschooled her five and six-year-old, and who knows what other tasks she accomplished in addition to nursing the baby and making dinner. She just doesn’t feel like she has anything to show for her time, but her investment in her family has been invaluable and most necessary. She has not been lazy but self-disciplined.

The next self-discipline idea gives us a hint at how we can prepare our environment to either help or hinder laziness.

Hi Teri,
Just wanted to say that one way I fight my being lazy is to put on a apron in the morning; it just gives me the feeling that I’m dressed for work and sets me apart as the homemaker, and keeps my skirts from getting too dirty from the daily work of cooking, cleaning, and caring for young children.

Not only will putting on an apron give one an attitude that is conducive to working, but also getting dressed in the morning and making the bed upon rising can do the same. An unmade bed and walking through the house in a robe seems to facilitate the lazy choices more than the self-disciplined ones.

Here is a suggestion you might be interested in from Kathy.

You asked for tips on being more self-disciplined. One thing I do is to picture a room or piece of furniture as it would look if it were clean. This is motivating to me. When I picture it, I feel so good inside!  Having a taste of that feeling keeps me going to finish cleaning and straightening it. Kathy

This might be something you would want to try. When you feel like you want to avoid doing a task in front of you, picture in your mind what it will be like to have it completed, and then let that motivate you to tackle it.

This is the final suggestion I received to pass on to you.

This hits my heart directly. I was not taught to be a hard worker and now having a family of my own, I have to make decisions on whether I will allow my upbringing to destroy my family and my children’s as they grow or if I will work to better it now for the future. I get bogged down and feel overwhelmed, like I’m drowning with all that needs to be done. However, I’ve helped to create that feeling. I find that I’m really good at wasting time self-indulging, rather than working on what needs to get done thus making the tasks harder because the mess grows.

So for me, I’ve had to do much what you do with writing your column. I set a timer to do a task ten minutes (give or take a few) at a time. If the dishes need to be done, that is something I can accomplish in that amount of time and what a rewarding feeling it is. If it’s straightening up the living room, by the time ten minutes go by, I’m amazed with what I got done and how quickly ten minutes passed! Sometimes (and only sometimes since I AM a work in progress) I continue on after the timer goes off.

Reading is one of my favorite pastimes, so periodically if I would really rather read than work, I tell myself I can sit and read for a certain number of minutes IF I switch the laundry, fold and put it away, as a kind of reward. Sometimes I feel like I’m being silly, but not being raised to just do it, it takes these kinds of ‘silly’ rewards.

Thank you for addressing this issue of laziness to self-discipline.

As we wrap up our discussion of laziness and self-discipline, I want to direct you to the Word. Remember the Scripture verses we began this series with that showed how the Lord desires us to be self-disciplined.

Cry out to the Lord to help you if this is an area in which you are struggling. Consider the example you will be to your children when you model self-discipline to them. Don’t we want to help them overcome obstacles that they will likely face in their futures?

Being self-disciplined will enable us to be good stewards of the time God has placed into our hands. I encourage you to use a schedule so that you can be productive with your time and manage it well. If you would like some help with a schedule, we would suggest Managers of Their Homes. Here’s what Jamie wrote:

Thank you so much for this book! It has been extremely helpful. Not only do I have three children of my own, but I also watch two children. So I have five children four and under. My oldest has begun kindergarten this year. Using the schedule has made the days run smoothly. Everything is getting done (even the laundry!). I am not a schedule person. But it doesn’t seem like a schedule as much when I am the one planning the day!

As additional motivation, look toward the rewards you and your family will experience when you are accomplishing the tasks that will be part of your self-disciplined choices. January is a time of new beginnings. Will you make the move from lazy to self-disciplined?

From Lazy to Self-Disciplined – Part 5

As we continue our series of Mom’s Corners discussing moving from being lazy to being self-disciplined, I will first direct you to the previous four articles.

I have been asking others to share their strategies for how the Lord has helped them toward a self-disciplined life. Now I can give some of those to you so that you can be helped and encouraged by them too.

Jen sent me a whole list of her tips.

1. Everyone works together so that everyone can relax together. I try to be mindful that my husband is working at a job all day, and that I should be ‘on the clock’ too. Then, the children and I all do our morning chores at the same time. When no one is just sitting around, everyone works a little harder! It almost becomes like a race. The children scurry around trying to get everything picked up while I’m working in the kitchen because no one still wants to be in their area when the vacuum starts running. Work doesn’t have to be unpleasant, and a good old-fashioned competition spices things up!

2. Make a joyful noise!! This is a great time to see if you know all the verses to a favorite hymn by heart. Often, getting all the way through Amazing Grace is the same amount of time it takes to clean the bathroom—if I’m hustling. AND, I feel totally uplifted at the end.

3. Think of it as a gift. Despite my #1 point, there are definitely days off that I get that my husband doesn’t get (say days we don’t do school). I know that on those days I will get more time to put my feet up. So, it is a nice thing to clean the kitchen after dinner sometimes without asking for help and let him have some much-needed downtime too!

4. Pay attention to your best time of day to do ____________. I am most cheerful and energetic in the morning, so the best time for me to do chores is then. In the afternoon I’m better off grading children’s work, or prepping for the next day’s school. Because I know this about myself, different kinds of work feel less onerous. I frequently cook with my crock-pot, because I can make dinner in the morning then too!

5. Compliment yourself and your children on a job well done. Once a task is complete I love to sit back and say out loud, WOW! The ______________ looks sooooooooooooo nice! It directs everyone’s focus to the fact that our house is a more peaceful place when tidy.

As an aside, I think we all need to really pay attention to where we are in life too. As I finish out the first trimester of my fifth pregnancy in nine years, I know that my all day/night morning sickness has about a month left to go—maybe two. I honor the fact that the most important thing I am doing right now is growing a baby. If that makes me too tired to do everything I usually do, I ask for help, or in some cases I let things go undone. This is a time to talk to my children about the miracle happening inside me, to encourage them to help with the littles when I can’t and to come and read their school work to me when I am too sick to get up. It teaches them kindness, compassion, and understanding too!—Jen

As Jen suggested, by encouraging your children to work with you, you are helping them to develop self-discipline, a quality that will benefit them both now and in the future. Singing while you do what you need to do, if that is possible, raises your heart to praising the Lord in the midst of your work. Certainly when we choose to do something that allows our spouse to rest or frees them for another task, we have the satisfaction of loving and serving. Finally, Jen’s decision to pay attention to tasks that require more energy and then to schedule them when her energy level is higher helps her to be more willing to undertake the jobs that she might otherwise want to avoid.

In addition to the suggestions that Jen brought up, she turns our attention to another thing that we need to consider and that is what constitutes being lazy. She is at the end of her first trimester, and she doesn’t have the energy to do what she can do when she isn’t pregnant. Does that make her lazy? Certainly not. She is wise to listen to her body, rest when she needs to in order to care for her unborn baby, and let work go that she would normally do.

Along these same lines, I received this e-mail from Erin.

Thank you Teri for your Corners. I am struggling at the moment. In the Mom’s Corner you wrote, ‘If we don’t feel like working because we are tired, then it would be better to sleep and refresh ourselves than to fritter our time away doing nothing.’ How can we know if we really need to rest more, or if we should just keep pushing ourselves so that we are not being lazy? Sometimes I feel like everything is an effort, sometimes too much. I feel overwhelmed a lot of the time, but other days (not often enough) I have so much energy and achieve a lot. If I give in and rest, I will not get done all I need to to keep the house in order. Thanks again for all your encouragement. —Erin

I think this is a pertinent and serious question. For trying to determine whether you are being lazy or is just plain tired, I think you want to do two things: consider where you are physically and check your spirit. On the physical side, are you getting enough sleep? Do you have a nursing baby who gets you up in the night? If you know you aren’t getting enough sleep, then taking a nap in the afternoon isn’t being lazy. It is being prudent. You will get more accomplished with the other hours in the day, and you will have a more pleasant attitude as well.

If you are chronically tired for no apparent reason such as lack of sleep, then you want to check your diet and exercise. Are you eating a healthy diet? Sometimes we undermine our health by getting into habits of subsisting on caffeine pushes from coffee or soda only to have that cause health repercussions. Do you exercise? If you are not physically fit, you will not have a good energy level and will be more lethargic. It is possible that you need to go to a doctor to determine if there is a physical cause for being tired.

For the spirit check, ask yourself: Why is everything an effort? Is it because you don’t want to do it? Is it because you don’t like to do it? If that’s the case, then it could be laziness. This laziness manifests itself in thoughts like, “I don’t like what I have to do, and therefore, I resist it.”

As far as feeling overwhelmed, remember that last month, I encouraged moms to use a schedule. It makes you much more productive, and it helps you avoid that overwhelmed feeling.

I would also encourage you to ask your husband. Often those who know us best have a more realistic picture of us than we do ourselves. It might be that we are deceiving ourselves by saying that we aren’t lazy when in practice we are. It might also be, though, that we are pushing too hard when we need to slow down, and that slowing down isn’t lazy at all. It is being reasonable.

I still have suggestions that I want to pass on to you from several more moms on what helps them to be self-disciplined. I can continue with those next month. For now, I want to encourage you to have your heart set on what the Lord Jesus has called you to do. Be productive with your time, resting in Him to allow you to accomplish what He has set before you. If you are tired, evaluate whether there is a physical cause that needs to be corrected and take the necessary steps. Don’t call yourself lazy when you are not getting enough sleep because you were up in the night with children, and then you feel tired in the afternoon. Take a nap when the children do. Don’t feel like you need to push yourself when you are pregnant and have run out of energy at the end of the day, or even the middle of the day. However, if clothes need to be folded and you are surfing the Internet, then I encourage you to call it lazy. If it is time to start homeschooling and you are checking e-mail, then I suggest you determine that self-discipline is the better road for you. Get off the computer, and start school!

From Lazy to Self-Disciplined – Part 4

We have been investigating the challenging topic of how we can move from being lazy at heart to being self-disciplined. If you haven’t read the other parts in the series, you may do so.

In the previous articles, we looked at the biblical basis for choosing to be self-disciplined. Here is another verse to motivate us toward accomplishing what the Lord Jesus has set before us each day: “Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep; and an idle soul shall suffer hunger” (Proverbs 19:15).

The time the Lord has given to each of us is a treasure, and He wants us to be good stewards of that treasure. This is evident in the parable told in Matthew 25:14-29. Are we using our time as the faithful servant who was given five talents and used it to get five more talents, or are we like the unfaithful servant who took and hid his one talent in the ground? When we are productive with our time, we are the faithful servant, but when we waste time, we are the unfaithful one.

On the practical side of self-discipline, I have found that using a schedule helps me not to be lazy. The schedule sets in front of me what needs to be accomplished, so I do not have to make dozens of decisions as I move through my day about what I am going to do next. Before using a schedule, with the ending of each activity, would come the temptation not to do what needed to be done. I had the option of deciding to do something I would rather do than what I needed to do, to do nothing, or to do a time waster—all of which were the lazy choices rather than the self-disciplined ones.

When I began making and using a schedule, I was seeking the Lord for what He wanted me to be doing and how to fit that into the available time. The right decision had been made when developing the schedule, and all I had to do was to follow it. In setting my schedule, I made sure to include personal activities that were important to me, such as Bible reading and prayer, exercise, and time with my children.  were not lazy or undisciplined activities. They were positive priorities for my time, and they were going to happen when they were in the schedule. For more detailed information on scheduling, I would recommend Managers of Their Homes.

Here is an e-mail that was generated from this Mom’s Corner series:

Mrs. Maxwell,

In reading your article “From Lazy to Self-Disciplined,” my question is would you further help me to define productive activities? I admit that I am not a very disciplined housekeeper. But many times I choose to spend time with my children (7, 4, and 1) and not on housework. The easy answer would be that the children and I would do the housework as our activity, but I know that the season of life we are in now is short. If my husband is okay with a little clutter, is playing in the sandbox with my little ones a productive activity? Should my focus be on raising my children or keeping the house?

Thank you,

I would encourage Amber that raising children and keeping house are not mutually exclusive. Playing with the children is a productive activity, but only when it is balanced with the necessary housework. If all a mom does is play with the children, then it would become a lazy choice, especially if she is avoiding her household responsibilities by doing it.

When using a schedule, there is time to keep house and play in the sandbox with the children. Both activities are important and productive. If Amber will schedule her children to work with her, she will not only be maximizing her time with the children but she will also be teaching them to be self-disciplined. Her struggle with being a disciplined housekeeper is most likely rooted in a childhood where she wasn’t encouraged to work; therefore, she didn’t learn the self-discipline that would be an asset to her as an adult. We had a series of articles on this topic not too long ago: Holly Homemaker.

Another way that I can direct you toward self-discipline is to make use of those little bits of time that are easily wasted whether one is using a schedule or not. Here is an example of that. In the morning, Steve and I walk for an hour, then I hang on an inversion table for my back, and next comes personal Bible reading and prayer time. Before I start my Bible reading, I prepare a moist heating pad by putting it in the microwave for three minutes.

Here is what I was able to accomplish in those three minutes when I tracked it one morning to share with you.

  • Got out vitamins.
  • Washed up several dishes sitting in the sink.
  • Took soiled towels to the washing machine.
  • Put items away that were out on the counter.


I could have spent those three minutes simply doing nothing or looking through a catalog. This is often the temptation when there are just a few minutes available. We tend to think it isn’t worth trying to be productive with that time. However, consider what one can accomplish in just three minutes!

Let me share with you the one testimony of ways to develop self-discipline that I received after my first request. This example fits in well with the suggestion to use small pieces of time productively.

“One practical way that I have found to combat laziness is to use a timer for my computer use. I set the timer for ten minutes. This gives me time to check my e-mail and maybe take a quick peek at a couple of other sites (like the Maxwell family blog!). I find that ten minutes a day is enough to do whatever I need to do on the Internet.

“I used to be always popping onto the computer to ‘check just one thing’—only to realize an hour had gone by. It was really just a lack of self-discipline and a lazy way of avoiding the tasks that I needed to be about. I was also searching for inspiration and affirmation on the Internet, instead of searching God’s Word.” Cherie

Cherie is utilizing a few short minutes and then choosing to be self-disciplined by limiting her computer time to what she has determined would be best for her. Setting the timer keeps her accountable to the standard that she has decided upon. Her method can work for any of us, and I think we can all relate to getting on the computer to see if we have any e-mail, thinking it will only take a minute or two, and suddenly realize an hour has gone by.

Since my initial request for suggestions on how to move from laziness to self-discipline, I have received several more, so I plan to share those in next month’s Mom’s Corner. For now, I encourage you to be a faithful steward of the time God has given you. Consider using a schedule to help you be productive and to minimize, or maybe even eliminate, the lazy time wasters in your life. I pray your heart will be pulled to the self-discipline that the Lord would want in your life.

Summer Schedules and Chores

With the beginning of June upon us, a significant number of families will have different schedules and many hours to invest in activities other than school. The summer months afford us an excellent opportunity to re-evaluate children’s chore assignments and teach them new chore skills. It is also helpful to develop a schedule so we can accomplish all that is a priority for the summer.

When we assign our children chores, we don’t want to have to redo the chore plan until the following summer when we once again have the time to tackle it. During the summer my homeschooling hours are freed up for other projects and redoing the chore assignments will be at the top of the list.

We are particularly interested in evaluating whether older children are ready to learn some new chores while passing on a few of their well-practiced ones to younger siblings. It is also the chance to trade older-children jobs around so that each child learns every chore, becoming accomplished in it. Remember from the Holly Homemaker series having a clean home is only a part of why chores are important to us. We also want our children to learn skills that will facilitate their adult years. If a child knows how to clean the bathroom but not how to do the laundry, then we haven’t done our job as parents.

Scheduling Chore Time

Since revising the chore assignments is important to me, I put it into a summer schedule. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). We know that many who use schedules decide to eliminate the schedule for the summer, and that’s fine if that is the family’s choice. However, we have regularly heard from families who make that decision, but then are disappointed with their summer. Why are they disappointed?

They are disappointed because the activities that they planned to do and that were a priority for their summer weeks didn’t end up being accomplished. The children fussed and bickered with each other because of the lack of direction in their days. The time seemed to be filled with chaos, disorganization, and frustration. The family looks back over their summer days with dissatisfaction rather then the sense of fulfillment they were looking forward to in the beginning. After a summer with these results, they decide to return to a summer schedule the following year.

There are many things one can put into a summer schedule. It is helpful to begin the scheduling process by a family discussion and planning time. What are the priorities for family time and individual time?

If the family is homeschooling, summer allows us to do two or three hours of homeschooling a day while still leaving much of the day for other activities. With those two or three hours, the children’s day is more easily filled productively. Younger children will maintain the reading and math skills they are just beginning to learn. Older children can work ahead for the upcoming school year, which means there can be more flexibility in the normal school schedule. If a child had difficulty in an area or a subject, emphasis can be placed on that. Perhaps there are studies that simply haven’t fit into the school schedule because of higher school-time priorities. Summer will nicely accommodate those studies while still leaving plenty of hours for non-school related activities.

Organizing During the Summer

Maybe there is household organizing and cleaning to be taken on during the summer. Time can be placed into the schedule for that. Organizing fits well even into a half hour or an hour time slot. For many years when my children were younger, I did all my major cleaning and organizing tasks during a short little half hour each summer day. I gave one of the older children the responsibility of playing with his younger siblings for that half hour. I kept a running list through the rest of the year of projects and cleaning that were too time consuming for my normal daily schedule. Those were what I worked on during that half hour in the summer. I was always delightedly amazed at all I could get done when I applied myself for just one half hour a day. Not only can Mom get her de-junking accomplished, but the older children can as well.

In the schedule, we put in time for me to make us the new chore system and to implement it. After making the chore assignments, it will take my time to teach the older children their new jobs. If I have it as part of the daily schedule, I am most likely to actually get it done. The older children can teach the younger children the chores that they are handing down to them, but again, there needs to be time set aside in the schedule to do this.

It is also helpful to me to check the children’s daily chores until they become proficient at what they are doing. When I used to try to work the checking into an open spot in the day, I usually didn’t. However, when I started putting “check chores” as a short time block on my schedule, I became successful in the consistency that was important.

We want our children learning how to work, “Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure, and whether it be right” (Proverbs 20:11). “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth” (Lamentations 3:27). Summer days give me the time to invest in their lives by working out the chore system, teaching the children how to do their chores, and then holding them accountable for what they did. Without the hours of homeschooling, my summer days maintain a more relaxed pace so that I have the freedom to spend in this beneficial pursuit.

Perhaps a summer schedule and a redefined chore system sounds like something you would want to see as a part of your summer but you don’t know where to start or how to go about it. We have two resources available to help you. Managers of Their Homes gives information and step-by-step-directions for setting up a daily schedule. If you would like to implement a successful chore system, we would suggest Managers of Their Chores as a tool to help you in that direction. We want to encourage you to ensure that you have something to show for your summer weeks and do not arrive at September with discouragement. Perhaps a summer schedule and a revised chore system will help you toward that goal.

Time Management for Homeschool Moms through Scheduling Perseverance

We know that time management is vital for busy homeschool mom to keep up with their multitude of responsibilities.  Sometimes I have moms ask me about the ongoing success rates of those who haven’t scheduled for time management and begin to do so. We don’t have a way to track that, but I hear from moms regularly via our conferences who tell me how grateful they are for their schedules. Some bring me problems with their schedules that we discuss and often come up with other solutions to try. Generally, though, these homeschooling moms are letting me know the positive changes in their time management they have achieved through using a schedule and how it has transformed their home life.

I would like to share a homeschool mom’s time management scheduling story with you that I recently received. It portrayed to me so many beneficial outcomes of a schedule and the realities of using a schedule. I thought it could be motivational to some who are on the fence concerning scheduling and to others who haven’t pushed through the problems they faced when they tried scheduling.

Homeschooling Mom Uses a Schedule for Time Management

“I’d like to give you a MOTH (Managers of Their Homes) testimonial if I may. This is a story of perseverance. I purchased the MOTH book some months after my sixth child was born. I had spent five weeks in the hospital on bed rest, and my daughter spent five more weeks in the hospital after being born at thirty-one weeks. I needed help because my house was out of control even though my husband did his best while I was gone.

“The important thing that making out the schedule did for me was to show me that I was doing too much and expecting too much. There were only so many open spaces for those colored squares. We didn’t follow our schedule very well at first, but it did serve as a kind of a list of what we were shooting for.

“I continued to make out schedules every fall and some times different ones for winter, spring, and summer. It was very easy once I had it on the computer, and I only needed to make changes. We gained more and more success following it.

“Now nine years later we don’t always follow it perfectly, but it is there, and the children check it often. I rarely have to tell the children to practice their instruments, and many other things happen automatically. The teenagers help me schedule. More than that, they have become time minded. They know how to adjust their own schedules when things get crazy. They don’t like to squander their time. They are learning to evaluate how they spent their time.

“I have heard some moms say that they have tried scheduling, and it didn’t work. I could have said that the first year, but the Lord showed me in many ways that if I just persevered it would make a difference. Peace and productivity has crept into my home. Thank you for this blessing.”

Time Management Wisdom from the Lord

Of course the blessings of time management for homeschooling moms through a schedule aren’t from me but from the Lord. He is the One we cried out to as I faced daily struggles in time management with a growing family, homeschooling, and a home to run. He is the one Who showed us step by step how to put together a useable and reasonable schedule to manage my time to accomplish those things He had called me to do.  The information we share in Managers of Their Homes was learned and implemented step by step as those needs arose in our lives. So in essence, I was doing what Nancy did—persevering in the scheduling task. I consider perseverance a very important factor to successful scheduling.

Time Management Flexibility for a Homeschooling Mom

Moms will say to me all the time, almost with apology in their voices, that they love their schedules, but they don’t do a perfect job of keeping to it all the time. Exactly! That is what I consider a successful scheduler—one who has learned when to be flexible, who is using her schedule to help her manage her time to be productive, and who will allow the schedule to change when necessary. In normal life, there will continually be interruptions to our days that cause us to have to temporarily or permanently rearrange the pieces of our schedule.

For example, I normally grocery shop on Monday and Thursday afternoons after 3:00 p.m. so that I can take Mary along with me when she is finished with her school work. When we came home from our speaking trip in February, our daughter-in-law, Melanie, was on pregnancy bed rest, and so I began going over in the afternoons after their two-year-old, Abigail’s, nap to do what needed to be done so Melanie could stay down. That eliminated 3:00 p.m. as a viable grocery shopping option.

For a season, I stopped having my scheduled computer time in the early afternoon on Mondays and Thursdays and went grocery shopping instead so that I would be home by the time Abigail was up from her nap. We bumped Mary to finish her schoolwork later in the afternoon or early evening, whenever there was time available. There wasn’t always as much time to complete that school work as she would have had if we hadn’t gone grocery shopping and over to help Melanie, since she went to Melanie’s with me too. However, she wanted to be part of the support team for Nathan, Melanie, and Abigail, and she was willing to extend her school year as long as necessary to finish the work she didn’t get to on her normal school days—another example of scheduling flexibility. Whereas we usually complete school by the end of May, she worked diligently through June before her books were done.

Just as Nancy said, if the interruption comes, when we have a written schedule, it gently guides us back to the time path we have chosen to follow. For most, having the schedule to consult makes it much easier to move back into accomplishing our daily tasks after an interruption than it would be to try to figure out what each family member needs to be doing. I am always grateful for my schedule and all of the little decisions it is alleviating me of through out each day, even the days when there has been more need for flexibility.

Time Management for Priorities

Sometimes it seems overwhelming to a mom to make up a schedule. Even though the steps are clear, she can’t imagine all she feels she must accomplish each day fitting into twenty-four hours. One of two things will happen. It may be that as she puts her schedule together, she discovers that it does all fit, and it is very workable. That is quite common. It could be like Nancy, though, that she will realize that she is trying to do too much. That in itself is often a relief and stress reducer. Then she begins the process of figuring out what she can cut from the schedule, how she can utilize her children as helpers, how she can be more productive as she uses her schedule, and what she can do less often but still accomplish. To do this, she will be praying and consulting with her husband, if he is willing to help her.

Schedule Practice Makes Improvement

Once that first schedule is made up and implemented, subsequent schedules become much easier as Nancy testified. They were simple enough to revise or redo that she would find herself choosing to make a new schedule for the changes every season brought to her life and the family’s activities. It was worth the small investment of time she would make for the outcome of productivity she realized.

Because Nancy didn’t give up scheduling that first year when it wasn’t working as she really wanted it to work, she now is a successful scheduler—although I would have called her one long before she called herself one. She has peace and productivity in her home. She isn’t badgering her children all the time with what they need to be doing. She doesn’t even have to make up all their schedules; her teens do their own. Her education in time management has been passed on to her children, and she is seeing the beneficial fruit in their lives.

Homeschooling Mom’s Time Management Brings Blessings

Let me wrap this article up with one more testimony.

“I function better when I have a schedule to follow, yet I have been reluctant to sit down and work on a schedule. I really cried out to the Lord and asked for His strength to get me over that hump. I finally sat down yesterday with my schedule and started working on it. You know what? It wasn’t that bad! I actually started to have fun and get excited about the upcoming school year. My schedule is a work in progress.

“The most uplifting thing was when my daughter came to me and saw that I was working on our schedule. She said to me, “Mom, I like things so much better when we have a schedule. I’m excited for school to start!” Then my other daughter came and cuddled with me for a while and wanted to know what her “path” said. We went through each of her activities during the day, and she too was excited for the schedule to start. This was the biggest comfort and encouragement I could have received! Ultimately I know that a schedule is so much better for my family and that I function as a mom on a much higher level when I follow one!” Bookworm

All these positive scheduling outcomes are my desire for every Christian woman, serving the Lord with her life. I want to encourage those who haven’t tried scheduling to become motivated to begin right now. For any who thought they weren’t successful in time management through scheduling, I suggest they change their success criteria. There may be moms reading this article who have tried scheduling but didn’t persevere and are still discouraged with their feelings of time pressure, not doing what is truly important to them, and being tired. I hope Nancy can give them the nudge that would push them to go back to scheduling and patiently work toward a schedule step by step. Does nine years sound like a long time? Is the fruit worth it? It was for Nancy, and it is for me. Perhaps it will be for you as well.

Second-Generation Scheduling

As my life has entered a new stage because of being a grandmother, I am now seeing the benefits of using a schedule in the next generation. Not only is a schedule helping my granddaughter, Abigail, with her daily life, but her mommy, Melanie, is developing the pieces of her schedule beyond what I learned to do with mine. Because our daughter-in-law was recently on pregnancy bed rest for many weeks, the Maxwell ”girls” have been part of the team that takes turns going in to take care of Melanie and Abigail while Nathan works. This has allowed me to observe Melanie’s scheduling of Abigail’s time and the results in Abigail’s life. Because I regularly get questions regarding what one might put on a preschooler’s schedule, I thought you might like a glimpse into the one I am most familiar with right now.

Mealtimes are on the schedule: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Since the time Nathan arrives home for dinner varies some, dinnertime is ultimately based upon when he is available. Before meals, Abigail, who turned two in May, has some simple jobs that she helps with, such as setting the silverware and napkins on the table, making salads (the ingredients are prepared in advance), and helping Mommy get things out of the cupboard. Although her “help” at this age probably slows Melanie down, it is productive use of Abigail’s time. It is teaching her to work, and it is training her for jobs that she will soon be able to accomplish independently. After the meals, Abigail again has some chores that she does while Melanie is cleaning up. She can clear her dishes, wipe her high chair tray with a dishrag, put a few items away, and sweep in the kitchen with her mini-broom.

Melanie chose to try baby potty training, so Abigail has been going potty on the toilet since she was quite young. She is just beginning to be able to consistently communicate to Melanie when she needs to go, so she is still on scheduled potty trips. This happened every hour at first and now every hour and a half, involving five to ten minutes.

Not only does Melanie include Abigail in her kitchen chores, but she also has scheduled a daily chore time after breakfast. Abigail goes with Melanie (or whoever is the current bed rest helper) as she tidies up the house, helping to put things away. She has a little broom to use when Melanie sweeps the kitchen floor, swishes her feather duster as Melanie does her dusting, puts dirty clothes into the washing machine, and moves clean wet clothes to the dryer. Making Abigail part of Melanie’s daily work productively occupies Abigail’s time, teaches her how to work, equips her with skills she can build upon as she matures, and keeps Melanie and Abigail together.

Midmorning following breakfast and chore time, both Melanie and Abigail take a break. They call it naptime, but it is more of a slow down since neither of them actually sleeps. Abigail drinks a small bottle and then cuddles on Melanie for ten minutes. After that time is up, Melanie spends the remainder of the half hour reading out loud to Abigail.

Abigail has twenty minutes in the morning schedule called blanket time. For this, Melanie puts a blanket on the living room floor with several toys on it. Abigail is to play on the blanket alone with the toys but not get off the blanket. Because Melanie started working with Abigail several months ago and taught her to stay on the blanket, when Melanie says it is blanket time, Abigail knows just where to go and what to do.

Last in the morning, Melanie has scheduled school time for herself and Abigail. During this half hour, Melanie does simple preschool activities with Abigail. The ones I have observed were stringing large beads onto a thick string and putting designated objects on a mat that had big numbers on it. They also work puzzles together and are practicing colors and letters.

When school is completed, the next time block involves making lunch, eating, and cleaning up, and after that it is naptime. This includes preparation for the nap, which means going potty, getting a diaper on, and drinking a small bottle. Abigail’s nap is scheduled for a certain amount of time, but if she wakes up early, she is allowed to get up.

After naptime on the schedule comes snack time. Abigail participates in getting the snack food out in addition to enjoying the eating time with Mommy. Melanie is always looking for little tasks that Abigail can do to be a “helper” girl. It would be easier for Melanie to do the work herself, but these are the formative years when good habits are being instilled into those little lives.

Weather permitting, when the snack has been eaten, Abigail has a half hour of outside playtime. This might mean a walk with one of her aunts plus Grandma and Grandad, or it could be playing in the backyard with Aunt Mary or Mommy.

Once Abigail comes inside after her play-outside time, she has a read-aloud time with Grandma two days a week and her Daddy CD the other days. I have collected a bag of toddler and preschool reading books that I tote over to Melanie’s house to read to Abigail. Abigail looks forward to “read books,” and it is wonderful grandmother and granddaughter time.

The Daddy CD is a CD that Nathan recorded of him talking to Abigail, sharing his heart with her, and teaching her things he wants her to learn. Abigail spends this time in her crib with special toys that are put in the crib with her that she only plays with during her play-alone time. Melanie, or whoever is helping, takes Abigail to her room for her Daddy time. They turn on the CD together, get out the toys, and put Abigail in the crib. When the CD ends, we know it is time for Abby’s play-alone time to be over. (For more information on how to create a Daddy CD, Steve will be writing about it in his next month’s Corner.)

There is time in Abigail’s schedule that is called “playtime with Mommy.” During this half hour each afternoon, Melanie sits with Abigail on the floor near Abigail’s toys and plays with her. It is a designated amount of time so that both Melanie and Abigail know Melanie is going to be giving Abigail playing attention. This helps free Melanie from feeling like she needs to continually play with Abigail, and it also keeps Abigail from always asking Melanie to play with her.

The evening is somewhat scheduled, but dinner is flexible based on when Nathan can get home from work. Nathan’s evening schedule can be found in Steve’s newest book for men, called Redeeming the Time. After dinner there always seems to be something to do, but Abigail has a set a bedtime to which they adhere. That means that family Bible time, evening bottle, teeth brushing, and getting jammies on are scheduled in the proper order just before bedtime.

This structure brings stability to Abigail’s day. It allows her to learn the day’s schedule and anticipate each activity that will be happening. It helps Melanie meet Abigail’s needs and have time for those teaching and relationship activities that can easily be pushed aside in the rush of the day. It also allows those who step in to help when Melanie is on bed rest or just not able to be up as much as normal to know what to do with Abby. Melanie has to make a decision each day and throughout the day as to whether she is going to follow the schedule or do other things.

There is a special peace that comes from the productivity and efficiency of using a schedule, not to mention the building of relationships that can be part of the scheduled activities. I am not implying that every mom’s schedule would look like Melanie and Abigail’s. However, I am encouraging you to prayerfully consider what the Lord would have you do each day and then develop a schedule to help you move toward that goal.

For more scheduling help, we recommend Managers of Their Homes.

Can a Scheduled Mom be Spirit-Led? – Part 2

The question we are in the midst of discussing is whether a mom who uses a schedule can be Spirit led. Here is the specific message that was communicated to me by a mom who wants the order a schedule brings to her day, but she is concerned that she will not be following the Lord if she does so.

“I was speaking with some moms last night about scheduling. I desperately desire to be more scheduled, but they feel their days should be ordered by the Lord and each day should be new unto itself, open to what their children need, etc. Is there a way to be both? Is a schedule so structured that God cannot order your day? I would appreciate Teri and anyone else commenting on the balance here. I’m having trouble keeping to my schedule and I think I may be justifying it as stated above. I am not keeping to our schedule well at all and I’m not sure why. I just know I feel stifled in some way, but I long for the order and peace a schedule can give me. Can I do both?” Used by permission

Last month I shared how my schedule allows me to follow the Spirit in both the overall plan for my day and in the changes that might be put into place as the day progresses. Here is a link to that article.

What I have to say next, I say with all gentleness, as a sister in Christ, to encourage us to have honest evaluations of our words, their meanings, and our hearts. I wonder if those moms who don’t think one can be Spirit led while using a schedule could be confusing “Spirit led” with “feeling led” in their own lives. The reason I have this question is because my frequent observation is that the mom who says she can’t use a schedule because she wants to be Spirit led is often not doing what the Lord has called her to do with her time but rather what she feels like doing. For example, she may not be keeping up with the housework and meals but instead spending time on the computer reading and posting to blogs and message boards. In these cases, then, it would appear that the mom isn’t Spirit led but “feeling led”—doing what she feels like doing rather than fulfilling the responsibilities the Lord Jesus has placed into her life.

Let’s consider a mom whom God has called to homeschool her children. What if she wakes up in the morning and doesn’t feel like doing school? Will she go ahead and have school, or will she decide the Spirit is leading her to spend the day differently? If she decides not to have school, is it the Spirit leading her, or is it her own feelings of personal desire to spend her time in other ways? If she is honest, it is entirely possible that she will find she is being led by her feelings of what she prefers to do. Because of those feelings, she might say the Spirit is leading her not to have school when in reality she just doesn’t want to do school.

Let’s review again the verses that give us that definition of what “Spirit led” means. “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Romans 8:12-14). If what we say is Spirit led is actually allowing us to do what we feel like doing, that which is more enjoyable to our flesh, but not what the Lord has called us to do, is it really being Spirit led?

Here’s another scenario. Perhaps my saved, teenage child, who loves the Lord Jesus, comes to me in the morning and says he doesn’t think the Spirit is leading him to do his schoolwork today. I query him to determine what he plans to do with his day and discover that he is going to spend his normal school time on his hobby. Would I agree that the Spirit was speaking to him and allow him to skip his school? Would I tell him that he needed to do his schoolwork and then pursue his hobby? On the other hand, what if he told me the Lord had put it on his heart to spend a day helping his grandparents and that he would make up his schoolwork in the evenings and on Saturday? Would that look more like Spirit leading? One direction for his day has a selfish focus, while the other has a serving focus. The Spirit will generally lead us contrary to the flesh, and that is often an indication of whether it is the Spirit’s leading or not. Is it “living after the flesh” or “mortifying the deeds of the body”?

This is very difficult to communicate. I am not judging anyone, and please don’t take it as that. I leave it up to each of my readers to evaluate if this would apply to her life. Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that the Spirit wouldn’t ever lead a Christian mom to do something other than the responsibilities He has given her. However, I would have to question a mom who frequently neglects those responsibilities for other activities or free time and says it is Spirit led. My doubts come because if the Lord has directed us to fulfill certain responsibilities, then how could we accomplish them if we are doing other things?

I will also challenge the mom who wrote me about Spirit-led scheduling to evaluate why she would feel stifled by her schedule. Is it because her schedule is put together wrong? If so, then she wants to determine where the problem lies. Did she pray about her schedule as developed it? Did she discuss it with her husband? Is the difficulty with having wrong activities on the schedule? Perhaps she hasn’t allowed enough time for those activities.

Could it be that she doesn’t want to do what the Lord has called her to do? I can certainly relate to that in several areas of my life, but especially with regard to homeschooling. I homeschool because the Lord has directed me to homeschool not because I wake up every morning feeling like and wanting to have school with the children. If I focus on my feelings, then I will feel “stifled” during my school day. However, if I put my thoughts on the blessings to both me and my children of homeschooling and the joy of obedience, then my feelings will be of peace and contentment.

In many ways, it comes back to this verse I refer to frequently: “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). What will I do with my thoughts? Will I allow the thoughts to follow their own path, leading me to think that what I have to do on a schedule is stifling? Or will I bring the thoughts into the obedience of Christ, thinking instead, “Lord, this schedule is helping me accomplish what You have called me to do. I can set aside what I prefer and follow what You are leading me to do?”

I also want to be clear that I am not saying every mom who is Spirit led must use a schedule. That determination will be made by the mom, with the Spirit’s direction and her husband’s leadership. However, I am trying to make a case for the way a schedule can facilitate a mother being Spirit led and how it works under the Spirit’s leading. I also want to encourage moms who are not following, on a day-to-day basis, the overall direction the Spirit has previously given to them to consider whether they are truly Spirit led each day or if they are feeling led. I believe one way that determination would be made is by evaluating whether the mom’s time is being put forth into the areas to which the Lord has called her and what fruit she sees in her life and home. Is there peace, joy, and contentment, or is there chaos, stress, and confusion? May we be women whose hearts are focused on our Lord Jesus Christ, and who are following the Spirit in every aspect of our lives.