“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard
From the second we wake up, we make choices about how to spend our time.
Shower or not? Black pants or grey? Cereal or eggs? Music or news? Work out or email? Highway or back roads? Speed or slow down?
Our days are shaped by decisions. How we spend our time is the defining choice we make with every moment. It becomes who we are and what we value.
As a mom with two young kids, a career to pursue, a house to keep, and all the key relationships of my life to nurture (you know, small things like God-spouse-family-friends), I get overwhelmed by all the demands on my time. But I also get tired of the same old “so busy” conversation. I have the same hours as everyone else. I make time for what’s important. I let other things slide. We all do.
But I’m fascinated by the implications of our choices, how the little and big decisions of our lives become our story and shape the stories of those around us.
My kids are no exception. They already notice how I spend my time. They whine when I check email over lunch; they grin when I sit down to read with them. They ask what we’re going to do today, this week, this month, and they sort through their reactions to the choices their parents have made. Even as young as they are, they understand how time matters.
In an ongoing effort to fight the “too busy, no time” cycle, I’m constantly wondering how to spend my time in more life-giving ways. How to enjoy each hour rather than exhaust myself. How to stretch out the margins of our family schedule so we all have more room to breathe.
Lots of ink gets spilled on the big choices that I make as a mother: for example, whether to stay home with my kids or work outside the home. But within these larger vocational decisions are a thousand other important decisions about how to spend my time. How do I structure my days according to what I value? How do I stay present to the task at hand? How do I prioritize people first and foremost?
This week I’m launching a new series about how we spend our time as parents. How do we use our hours meaningfully in the busy years of raising kids? What practices can help us to become more mindful about the way we spend our time? How have other parents learned to live into the choices they make about time?
In this series I’ll be asking four questions about time to a group of mother-writers whose work has inspired my own thinking on the subject. Each of them offers a unique perspective on the activities and attitudes we bring to our use of time. I hope they will inspire and invigorate you (and there might be a few giveaways of their wonderful work, too, so stay turned!).
Till then, have a wonderful day – all 24 hours of it.