The idea of multi-tasking has always been a bit of a quandary to me.
To multi-task or not? That is the question.
Back in the 90’s, as a full-time Mama and homeschool teacher, I was constantly in pursuit of the “how to get it all done” goal, reading everything available by Emilie Barnes (who I dearly love, by the way) and The Sidetracked Home Executives (a.k.a. The Slob Sisters, who I secretly felt more akin to). I had thank you notes tucked in my purse for those fifteen minutes in the doctor’s waiting room and an hourly-daily-weekly-monthly-yearly plan on 3″ x 5″ cards. The first time I heard the “Put Your Rocks in the Jar” speech, I was taking notes about which size stones to put in first so I could squeeze in everything that had to be done. And then the punchline…
Put your rocks in first.
That totally blew my mind.
Here I was, trying to schedule everything down to the minute to be more efficient, and someone had to burst my bubble by telling me there are Really Important Things that needed to be established in my daily routine before all the little mundane things choked them out. Of course I knew this deep down, but somewhere in the 90’s the be-all-you-can-be and the get-it-all-done-ness of life had taken over. The Rocks in the Jar speech set me on a new path. Thank goodness. I began to see the need to slow down, to live purposefully, to focus. There weren’t fancy names for this idea yet, no coined terms, but I did find a few signs to hang around the house that said “Simplify Simplify Simplify.” Sally Clarkson and Tasha Tudor and Karey Swan were my new mentors… and I still hung on to Emilie Barnes, who really was teaching the importance of balance between organized and calm in her books about “home.” (I was just clinging obsessively to the checklist chapters!) Yes, organization and efficiency was important, but it was the means to an end, not the sum of life. We need to be organized just a bit so we can get to the good stuff. And we need to make sure the good stuff has priority in our days. So, we pared down our outside activities to have more time as a family. Having it together and getting it all done evolved into a few simple routines. Daily schedules turned into “chunks of time” for home keeping, school work, read-aloud (a Very Big Chunk!), food prep, and project time. Life at home transitioned into a relatively peaceful existence for our girls’ school years.
However, the years since our girls finished homeschooling and flew the coop have been quite a change for us. With extra time on my hands and less dirt being tracked in, the “Now what?” quickly turned into overly full calendars. Craft shows and orders and college classes and volunteering took precedence over housework. Our schedule was crazy, because since we weren’t tied to a schedule anymore we had more free time to fill. And fill, it did. With good things, but maybe not always the best. I was busy, busy, terribly busy (think Veggie Tales, you Moms from the 90’s) and I didn’t like it one bit. And so the quest began once again for peace and home and all things unhurried.
Since then, we have waxed and waned in our quest for a calm life since then, and some days we wonder if we’re headed in the right direction. (This summer, in particular!) Sometimes the house and the schedule are very full, but I do think we’re learning how to balance the hectic with the calm, and just go with the flow. And, it is so refreshing to see young moms seeking this same balance of living intentionally while embracing the craziness of little children. They are so open and honest with their insights on making a home for their families and appreciating this season of their lives. If you’d like a little inspiration or help, check out Mary Beth’s Steady Days posts, or Kate’s Get It Together posts, or Jordan’s Little Happy Things posts.
And… I’m still taking notes… from the young moms, who have fresh perspective
about simple ways of multi-tasking and establishing simple routines so when
life does get suddenly hectic the world (and the house!) doesn’t fall apart.