Where Did My Day Go?

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

Between what is referred to as fibrofog, on top of mommy brain, and the very real possibility that I have undiagnosed ADHD, at the end of most days I’m left pondering the question, “Where did my day go?”

I don’t have the hyperactivity of ADHD, but I just learned that ADD is an outdated term, so I had to use ADHD. Perhaps if I had the hyperactivity I could get more done? 

Sorry, that was a rabbit trail!

It’s not that I don’t have a grasp on the passage of time, it’s a lack of focus and attention that thwart me. At the end of the day I review my to-do list, only to realize another day has passed of exhausting busywork, and hopefully the essentials (you know, eating, that kind of thing). Little things get done that aren’t very significant, but the things I need to get done to make life a little better suffer for it.

This lack of focus and concentration really scared me after losing my mom in her early 60’s to a form of dementia. Fear only compounded the problem and I resorted to worrisome thoughts, which crowded my already full brain. Full of I should’s and I need to’s, rather than steps to work on the problem.

As moms, we are responsible for so much. It will look different through the various seasons of your journey, but you likely fit into one (or more) of these categories:

  • Diapers, feedings, and cuddles
  • Helping to walk, talk, and potty train
  • Teaching colors, numbers and writing
  • School, friends and foes
  • Swim lessons, gymnastics, soccer and scouts
  • Boy/girlfriends, dances, and late night talks
  • Introduction to adulting, driving, and graduation
  • Launching, jobs and college
  • Continued love, support and guidance of an adult child
Perhaps you’re like me and feel like you’re always on-call. Waiting for the next cry for a change of diaper, to kiss the boo-boo, help with homework, or to have a conversation with your teen when they ask, because at that point in parenthood you never turn away a coveted chance to connect with your teenager. Being on-call keeps me on alert status, which means my mind isn’t able to fully engage with whatever I’m working on. 

I’m still a work in progress when it comes to setting healthy boundaries.

No matter what season you are in, you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t take your responsibility seriously. Nor would you be reading this if you weren’t in need of support and encouragement. There have been so many days in my life when all I got done were the responsibilities that fell into that particular season of motherhood. If everyone was still alive at the end of the day, I counted it as a success. 

If this is you at any stage, please know it’s okay to rest your weary head on that pillow tonight and tell yourself, “job well done.” I've been there. Let that be your good enough for the day.

Remember, however, for your own mental health, that you are not “just a mom.” If something is nagging at you, some inner voice of your subconscious, perhaps a nudging of the Holy Spirit, telling you there is more in store for you, white knuckle that thought and let it give you hope.

Stay with me, this isn’t another rabbit trail. I’m still writing about time management, this is just my brain getting there, and hopefully connecting with you in some way in the process.

I’ve had that nudging for over 7 years now. I’ve been fairly slow at developing it, because my first and foremost mission field in this season is my family. Now that my kids are older teens, I’m looking at what I am called to do when they’ve flown the coop. This blog is one result of my soul searching. God has been nudging me over these years to reach out and encourage other women, especially moms, through their seasons of life. He has brought me through some heavy stuff, and because of that I can share his message of hope in the weary mama's life. 

I fumbled my way through the past 7 or so years, writing a little here and there in journals, eventually working up the courage to go to a writers’ group, and then working up a little more courage to say “yes” to helping with a moms’ ministry at my church.

And then working up a little more courage to say “yes” to speaking at a women’s workshop at our church.

And then working up a little more courage to say “yes” to learning how to coach others in life’s challenges and transitions, and now “yes” to helping our church undergo a coaching model for the people we serve to live into their purpose and passion.

These yeses didn't come at convenient times when my schedule had some white space. I don't think my schedule has ever had any white space (something else I'm working on), but they did come at times when God knew I could handle them (even if I didn't yet know), and when he prepared me to do so. 

Go back and reread that. 

He will equip you! We just have to be open to making the space to allow it to happen. And yes, that might mean the half hour or more you spend scrolling mindlessly through social media. Come on, admit it, we all need to cut back on that!

Finding time to process what I've been through and turning it into hopeful, encouraging words for other women, and then getting equipped through classes and meetings has been a challenge for this busy mama's already overbooked schedule. I have two teens who are driving, but still with permits, and we are pretty much 30 minutes from anything. I'm easily on the road 2-3 hours a day driving back and forth, let alone the time spent wherever we're going for their commitments. And then there are my commitments to get to, while I still work at keeping family first. 

My slow, yet steady(ish), progress has admittedly been stunted, prolonged by my lack of time management skills. Year after year I would purchase a printed planner and a wall calendar, determined to become more organized in this area. Day after day I would write in my planner and calendar the things I could remember I needed to do. I even color coded by family member!

Lately I’ve been attending a lot of meetings, and I’ve had to say I’d check my future availability when I got home, because I’m old fashioned and have that paper calendar on the wall and usually forget to take a picture of it before rushing out the door. I’m a slow adopter of technology (I held onto my flip phone as long as I could), but I’m learning a valuable lesson. The tools I was trying to use are good, but for the way my brain works, I needed something better.

I want to be as effective as possible in coaching, but how can I encourage others in their journey of self-discovery if I am stalled in my own progress? There are several goal steps I’ve needed to take in the past weeks that continue to go unfinished (ahem, like regular blog posts). Part of it is fear of what’s next, but a large part of it is a lack of time management skills and tools.

To manage my time better, I must focus on my priorities, and in order to do that, I have to take the time to prayerfully identify my priorities. James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

As uncomfortable as silence has become in our lives in our culture, I had to take the time to have quiet reflection and listen to the Spirit within. In order to do that I had to set some healthy boundaries so I could have a period of time free from distractions. This could be as simple as an hour (or less) every few days, or perhaps you need a few consecutive days of being still, without distractions and interruptions, to discern your priorities.

Priorities for your time with God, family and friends, work, purpose, and household management (so you avoid those dust behemoths), but also priorities for your health, learning, rest and recreation.

Ephesians 5:15-16 reminds us, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Evil can definitely take the form of distractions and a lack of boundaries that keep us from honing our focus on what matters most.

Let me reemphasize, make priorities for your self care. You’ll be much more productive when you have taken care of yourself. 

And for Heaven’s sake, don’t try to schedule it all every day! Know your limitations, your cycle (if possible – fellow PCOSers, you know what I mean), and your energy levels, and schedule accordingly. Ecclesiastes 3:11 reminds us to take our tasks and break them down into manageable steps, “God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end." 

Don’t be overwhelmed by the whole task ahead. Prioritize consistent baby steps and you will get there.

Think of it this way, if I had looked at my completely dependent newborn children and only focused on how they would become productive, fully functioning adults, I would have been paralyzed. It was enough to simply make it through the day with everyone fed, changed, and precious little sleep. Each day thereafter brought its own challenges and rewards, which God worked together to create a beautiful life mosaic. 

Remember that God equips us for the season we are in, so don’t try to jump ahead of him. He will “equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:21)

With the Christmas break I’ve had time to explore and research, and have found some wonderful, and yes, techy, tools to help me organize my thoughts and better manage my time. I found a fairly simple time management app that allows me to put recurring to-do’s on autopilot so I don’t even have to remember to write them in my planner each day, week or month (i.e. daily chores, weekly emails, monthly meetings, etc.). I can also categorize and prioritize my to-do list. Another awesome feature is I can move unfinished, lesser priority items to another day so at the end of my day I see an empty list. There’s a lot of power in checking off those important items, yet being able to have the freedom to have an empty list at the end of the day, even if some minor things were left undone and moved to another day.

After discerning my priorities, I had to take the time, about an hour or so, to do the initial work of listing the steps and to-do’s in the app. In one week, that investment has already saved me much more time in busywork and getting things accomplished.

In Psalms 90:12, Moses prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” There is much wisdom in working smarter, not harder. This is especially true for us mamas who have a never ending to-do list, but need to make self-care a priority so we don’t crash and burn.

Now at the end of the day, I experience more feelings of accomplishment and purpose, rather than defeat and wondering, “where did my day go?” It’s a process. I’m still on a learning curve, but I’m beginning to embrace the technological tools that are meant to make our life better when used well. I will always have to deal with fibrofog and other issues that affect my concentration. However, with the right support and tools, I believe I can do better in life, including making self-care a priority. 

So can you, my friend.

Perhaps you’re reading this and you’re already on the tech train, with tons of apps for time management, organization and such. Let’s help each other make our days more productive and purposeful!

What apps or other tools do you use for time management and life organization? The app I am using is the free version of www.todoist.com. Please share your thoughts here, including what you like about the app/tool.


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