Monday, November 3, 2008

A God-Honoring Schedule

Let me begin by saying that I am not a schedule person. I am more of a routine person, carried along by the ebb and flow of the natural seasons of the day, beginning before the rising of the sun and ending with the candle burning far into the night. Having said that, however, I must admit crafting a schedule which includes all the important things in one's life is crucial to knowing what should come next as the day progresses.

It is paramount to know what are our God-honoring priorities.

~ Make God your top priority
  • It is even more important than eating and sleeping. If possible, rise before everyone else or at least before the children. It’s nearly impossible otherwise to get into a worshipful frame of mind. (Matthew 22:37)
~ Make your husband the top priority after the Lord
  • He comes before your parents, your employer, your church, your friends, and even before your children. (Ephesians 5:24)
~ Make your children your top priority after your spouse.
  • Deuteronomy 11:18, 19
~ Make your home and family your top priorities over all other outside interests.
  • Titus 2:3-5
With your priorities in line, a schedule is really a very simple thing to put together.

Please feel free to download a copy of this time grid to help with scheduling your day:

Schedule Time Grid PDF

If you are employed or run a business, this time should be set aside before going any further according to how much control you have over it.

Next, remembering the most important thing in your life, your relationship with Christ, plug in a daily time to read the Word and pray. If you are the mother of small children, this time may be integrated with other activities such as praying while hanging laundry on the line, reading the Word while nursing the baby, or setting aside time either before the children get up or after they are put to bed.

Now, consider your husband. His needs are pretty simple as far as what you need to provide is concerned: nourishing food, clean clothes, a clutter-free living environment, and some regular private time with you. Therefore, designate time each day for preparing his lunch for work, cooking his breakfast before he leaves for work, and making sure dinner is ready when he gets home from work.

You need time to do laundry on a regular basis depending on how much laundry you have to do. A large family usually needs a daily laundry time, while a smaller family may get by with one or two days a week.

Before scheduling cleaning routines, it is important to go through each room in your house and make a list of everything that needs to be done to keep that room or area clean and clutter free. Next, determine how often each of those tasks needs to be done (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.). Then, assign those tasks to each person in the family according to his or her ability. If you are the mother of small children and your husband will not help, go back and cross out all the non-essentials and spread out the time the essential tasks will be done according to your own ability.

Last, but not least, schedule time to be alone with your husband. It is important to schedule this time because it is too easy for this to become a secondary (or third or fourth or fifth) priority, and before you know it, there's no time at all. Most women do not realize that intimacy is as vital to a man's (and a woman's) well-being and good health as sleep, exercise, and nutritious food. Besides the regular times together, be sure to include a date night at least once a month. You don't need to go any farther than your living room if the children are tucked in and the atmosphere is cozy.

The children's schedules may be done separately if they are older, but little ones' times are an integral part of mother's schedule. There must be time for their hygiene, eating, sleeping (including naps), play time, chores, and schooling if they are older and you plan to home educate them. It may be well to stagger active and sedentary times just to keep them from being either bored or fatigued. It has been my experience that children learn more intense mental exercises (math, spelling, penmanship) better first thing in the morning and more relaxed ones (reading, history, science) in the afternoon.

By now your schedule is probably very well filled in. And everyone wonders what you do all day (!). However, there may be those who have extra time on their hands. If there is a ministry or outreach you have been burdened about and that your husband also feels you should pursue, then plug it into the holes which are left after your top priorities have been met.

Some women, myself included, like to leave "holes" in place to pursue hobbies such as writing, crafting, scrap-booking, and etc. This also leaves time to be of service to others in need when an emergency arises. I am free, then, to take a friend to the doctor or watch her children while she runs errands. Not all of our time has to be scheduled away. Leave some space for others.

Let me suggest you not keep the times exactly in regimented order. Rather, use the schedule to move from item to item. You are free to move things around or put things off according to what occurs in your real life. In fact, this may be a good time to read another post I've written called Dealing With Interruptions.

Keep it all in prayer, ladies. And may the Lord grant you wisdom and discretion as you seek to honor Him with your schedule.