How do you ‘get it all done’?

"I don't know how you get it all done," said one lady. "I don't have time to clean my house, and I only have two children and they're in school all day."

I don't get it ALL done! I get frustrated with myself (and sometimes with my children) because of the things I don't get done. But, I've come to realize that we do the things we think are important -- we "find" the time for things we really want to do. We must focus on what is accomplished, not what isn't. And there are things we simply have to set aside, because it won't achieve the goal we've set for ourselves.

A story I read recently reflects this.

A man comes home after work. He trips over the tricycle on the front walk, weaves his way through the toys in the living room, picks up some clothes as he walks through the house to find his wife. The children are unkempt, there are dirty dishes all over the table and counter top. He is struck with concern, fearing that something terrible has happened to his wife. He finds her in the bedroom, quietly reading a book. "What happened?" he asks.

"Well, dear, you know that every day when you come home from work you ask what I did? Today I didn't do it!" she replied.

I talk with other mothers who can't tell me a schedule for their home, for when to do the laundry, vacuum, clean the bathrooms or garden. They don't even know what they're having for dinner by 3 p.m. They go to the grocery store every other day because they run out of something or to pick up some convenience food because they're too tired to cook.

If a business were run like that, it wouldn't last one month. Why do we put less importance on our home? It's the foundation for the family, the society. Our home should be a peaceful haven for our husbands and children to find solace and relaxation in the midst of this stressful life.

Families and people differ. My schedule won't work for you. My priorities aren't yours. But, there are basics. Homes need to be cleaned. When I was a child, I remember hearing older relatives saying "Cleanliness is next to Godliness." Although that isn't actually in Scripture, God inspired Paul to write "Let all things be done decently and in order." (I Corinthians 14:40)

So, to run a home well, there must be order. Have a schedule and a plan. Be flexible, but, in order to be flexible, there must first be a regular routine from which to flex.

We have eight children -- the eldest is 15, the baby is 17 months. We educate our children at home. The six girls (the elder children) all take piano lessons and must practice from 30 to 60 minutes a day, depending upon their age. They share in the responsibilities of the home -- they cook, do the laundry, clean the home. They sew and embroider and smock. They help train the toddler. Without a schedule, we would have mayhem.

I don't get it ALL done. But, there are 24 hours in a day, and we plan 12 of those hours for ourselves and the children, with about nine hours of sleep allotted for the elder and 10 to 12 for the younger. We don't watch television or videos except on Friday nights, which we set aside as a family night. On that night, we have homemade pizza and watch a video or play a game. We enjoy one another's fellowship.

I was once reminded that the president runs a country in 24 hours -- we, too, have the gift of 24 hours every day. Let's use it well.

NOTE, this column was originally published in 2000. I inwardly laugh at the memories. Ultimately, we had nine children. Today, they're all grown with my eldest about to turn 39 and youngest 21. There are 16 grandchildren ranging from six weeks to nearly 15 years of age.

I live alone, but have grandchildren over often and still don't get it all done. I actually stress about it a lot less than I did 23 years ago.

But, the basic premise is still, have a plan, work the plan and use time wisely for it can not be regained.

Editor's note: Annette Beard is the managing editor of The Times of Northeast Benton County, chosen the best small weekly newspaper in Arkansas for five years. A native of Louisiana, she moved to northwest Arkansas in 1980 to work for the Benton County Daily Record. She has nine children, six sons-in-law, a daughter-in-law, 10 grandsons and six granddaughters. The opinions expressed are those of the author. She can be reached at [email protected].