Not Enough Time in the Day for a Busy Parent

By Jill Savage
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Sometimes it feels like there’s not enough of us to go around because parenting is nonstop. Use these strategies to go from restless to resting in God’s peace as a parent.

I stumbled down the stairs in an early Monday morning stupor. Mornings aren’t my strong suit, and it takes time for me to feel lucid. I closed the bathroom door for my first trip of the morning, only to hear my teenage daughter yell up the stairs, “Mom, did you wash my gym clothes?”

Within seconds, I heard her brother bellow, “Mom, if you are picking me up early today, I need a note.” I’d only been in the bathroom for a minute before 8-year-old Erica was knocking on the door announcing that her 2-year-old brother was awake and had produced a very dirty diaper sometime during the night.

I closed my eyes. Can’t I just have two minutes alone in the bathroom?

To parents, it sometimes feels like there’s just not enough of us to go around. Parenting is nonstop. Not only that, it seems that just when we get a routine figured out, our kids hit a new phase, and we have to re-strategize all over again. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, anxious and just plain worn out. There’s just no time to do it all.

In all my years of parenting, I’ve found that while the family landscape changes as the kids change, there are some unchanging principles that help us manage our time and energy well. They move us from reactive to proactive. From anxious to calm. From drowning to swimming. These strategies were game-changers for me:

Change the schedule

Kids take time. Babies blow out their diaper just as you’re buckling them in their car seat. Toddlers can’t find their shoes. Grade school kids forget that today is show and tell. Teens and preteens spend more time in front of the mirror getting ready to go. Instead of expecting everyone to fit into the schedule you’re used to, be adaptable and proactive, adjusting your morning as often as necessary to accommodate the reality of your family’s stage of life. Double your prep time and give “getting out the door” a bigger window.

Increase margin

Margin is the unscheduled white space in our lives. Margin is the space between our load and our limits. Just like the white space in the margin of a book, our lives need margin. Margin allows us to respond calmly, rather than reacting. Margin allows for the time to understand what’s going on in our child’s world rather than demand they fit into ours. Margin helps us to slow down, find balance, and lead well. To achieve margin, choose to schedule fewer events in your family’s already busy life.

Choose only one major and one minor outside commitment

My friend Janine was 10 years ahead of me on the mothering journey. One sunny Tuesday morning, we were talking about balance.

“Jill, you’re capable of a lot of things, but are you called to them all?” she asked. Nobody had ever asked me that question. “I want to challenge you,” she said, “to commit to no more than one major and one minor responsibility outside of your home and family.”

Janine explained that a major commitment requires a regular obligation, such as teaching Sunday school every Sunday or leading a small group every week. Full-time employment is considered a major. A minor commitment is something we do occasionally, such as serving as a substitute Sunday school teacher or hosting a small group every other month in our home. As I began to implement the “one major, one minor” principle, I recognized that I could only accept a new major opportunity if I let the current one go. The minors changed all the time, but I found I couldn’t pile them on top of each other. For instance, I couldn’t provide snacks for the soccer team the same week I was hosting small group in our home. This principle restored much-needed balance to my life.

Choose your majors and minors carefully

If you choose to do one major and one minor, and a new opportunity doesn’t fit, then “no” is the needed answer. Yes, you’re capable and will likely be asked to do a lot of things. However, you are the only one who can see the big picture and take into consideration the physical and emotional needs of your family.

Ask yourself: Will saying yes to this require me to say no to my family in some way? If so, then “no” is the answer. When you say no, don’t feel like you have to give a specific reason or defend your answer. Simply respond with, “I can’t participate right now, but thank you for thinking of me.”

Give yourself grace

You like to serve well-balanced, carefully thought-out, home-cooked meals, but there are some nights that fish sticks and carrots will be just fine. You usually manage your kids’ screens well, but when you’ve had a hard day, then it’s OK for them to watch a few extra videos or have a little more time with the video game console.

Most of us would claim we don’t expect ourselves to be perfect. However, when imperfect shows up, we usually don’t handle it well. That’s our first clue that we are struggling with unrealistic expectations of ourselves. We unfairly compare ourselves to others. Giving ourselves a little grace and not always chasing perfection will reduce our stress.

Prioritize what’s truly important

People are more important than tasks. The more we learn to quickly identify what is most important, the less we’ll feel pulled in two different directions.

  • If I’m reading my child a book and the phone rings, I need to recognize that reading to my child is more important than answering the phone. (That’s why voicemail exists.)
  • If I’m talking with my teenager and a text arrives, giving my full attention to my teen is important, and the text can wait.

With the invention of the smartphone we’re more accessible to the world than ever before. Using different notification sounds for family calls and texts can also help us quickly discern between a world screaming for our attention versus what’s truly important and waiting for our full focus.

Find rest for your soul

Our relationship with God often gets squeezed out when life seems out of control. When Jesus lived on this world, He had so many demands upon His time. However, He showed us that spending time with God was the key to being able to serve others, such as our kids, well.

  • Get up a little earlier or carve out some time in the evening to open God’s Word and talk to Him about your day.
  • Put a Bible in every bathroom of your house to shore up your soul even in that quick moment alone.
  • Make the extra minutes count. Choose to read the book of Philippians while you wait in the carpool line or the book of James while your preteen is taking his piano lesson.

Most importantly, give God the worry — the restlessness — you’re carrying over your children. Place them in His hands over and over again. This is when we live out Matthew 11:28-29: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Jill Savage is an international speaker and author of 14 parenting books including No More Perfect Moms, No More Perfect Kids and No More Perfect Marriages.

Copyright ©2019 by Jill Savage. Used by permission.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Jill Savage

Jill Savage is a popular public speaker and has written seven books including Professionalizing Motherhood, Real Moms … Real Jesus and No More Perfect Moms. She is the founder of Hearts at Home and served as the ministry’s director for 24 years. Jill and her husband, Mark, reside in Illinois. They have five children and several grandchildren. Learn more about …

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.

If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.