Squirrels, slushies, social media, and other time suckers - JJ Landis
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Squirrels, slushies, social media, and other time suckers

I left work a few weeks ago with a slight headache from lack of sleep and too little time to accomplish what needed done at my job. I texted my middle-schooler who was the only one home from school, “I’m getting you a slushy. Be home in 15.”
An icy, refreshing strawberry lime slush from Sonic was what I thought would relieve what ailed me. (I have food issues. Read September 4th’s post.) No matter that Sonic was a good ten minutes out of my way. And I had to fight off the “half price drink Happy Hour” crowd. Okay, there was no crowd, but the service was really slow anyway.
My “be home in 15” turned into more like “45 if I’m lucky.”
Sonic way overfills their cups. Every time. (But I keep going back because, man, those strawberry lime drinks are so good.) So by the time I got home, there was sticky red goo all over my cup holders and hands.
Once in my house, I stood in the kitchen surrounded by the daily pile of useless mail, the unread morning newspaper, my lunch box, my work bag, my daughter’s school stuff; while the laundry, wet in washer, beckoned to be dried; and dinner, unprepared in fridge, called out to be cooked. Cleaning the van came first though, because obviously, nothing good can come from sticky cup holders.
Despite not feeling well and having thirty thousand minute details of daily life to tend to, after all evidence of slushy was removed from the van interior, there I stood (why didn’t I just sit down?) and slurped down every last drop of that Styrofoam cup of happiness and even used a spoon to dig out the remains of the promised “real fruit,” while joining my daughter as she viewed a moronic Disney sitcom.
That whole ordeal left me, in addition to my headache and need for sleep, full of sugar (and a bite of real fruit!) and a wasted hour and a half of potential productivity.
Productivity was what I needed that evening. I had to pack for a weekend trip (and when I say pack, I mean micromanage what all six family members put in their suitcases), mow the yard, feed everyone dinner, finish the laundry, and make my kids do their homework and chores.
It was imperative that each task be completed that evening because we were headed to the beach the minute I got off work on Friday.
After my slushy/Disney spree, instead of focusing on that to-do list and my family, I texted a friend about a voicemail she left that morning. We ended up FaceTiming for a good hour, because she had been hurt by a friend and we had to discuss the offense! Right then!
Eventually, time moved on. Dinner was consumed. Kids were packing, doing homework. I went out to mow the yard but got distracted. All of a sudden, though they had been totally ignored by me all summer, the vines that crept under my vinyl siding had to be pulled. Immediately
A kitchen table that needed sanding (long story – let’s just say, don’t paint a table with chalkboard paint without some good hard sanding beforehand, otherwise you may end up re-sanding the entire ten foot table so you can re-paint it with chalkboard paint that hopefully will not peel off) beckoned me next. It didn’t bother me at all the entire week it was in the garage. But now that I had no time, I chose to get aggressive with the power sander.
And would you believe after all the nonsense of the afternoon/evening, when I had the yard mowed, the suitcases ready, and the table stripped, I baked cookies? I had a strong desire that night to make sure my family would see that I was a warm-hearted, sweet mother who baked homemade chocolate chip cookies. (And I wanted to eat cookie dough.)
I paid the price for my mania. My headache and exhaustion remained for another two days until I finally made sleep a priority one afternoon during our mini-vacay. I missed the crabbing expedition where the husband and kids taught our Norwegian exchange student how to use chicken necks to catch blue crabs. 
When I woke from my nap and realized the head was healed, the family was still out catching critters so I took my journal to the deck and left my phone in the house so I could be alone inside my pain-free head. I wrote some thoughts on time management that need to be implemented in my life:
1. Prioritize.

Obviously what I needed to do that Thursday was prioritize. Did the table need sanded right then? Did the vines need slain? Did we really need chocolate chip cookies? (Did we?)
We all have the choice each day to set our priorities. On good days, I like to order my life with this hierarchy:

First and over all – God.

Second– Family.

Third– Other people.  

Fourth– Work, material possessions, entertainment, etc.
One of my priorities is to read aloud to my children. I try to feed them a chapter every night before bed. When I am too busy to properly tuck them in with a book, I regret the time lost, especially if it’s lost on something dumb like burning homemade cookies.
2. Be deliberate.

It takes a deliberate decision to stay focused on a task at hand. Did you see the movie Up? (If not, why not!?) Do you remember how distracted Dug the dog got when he saw squirrels? I get like that if I am not deliberate about my intentions. 
My distractions come often. Ripping out vines. Prepping table for paint. Driving too far for a cold drink
More often though my “squirrel” moments come through social media. This is huge, and zillions of articles are written about our attention spans, our inability to focus, our addiction to our phones, etc. 
It takes some muscle to be able to resist the pull of Facebook and Twitter. I could spend a whole week straight reading everything in my Huffington Post feed.
I am all for social media. But we should control it, not the other way around. 
Just because my high school teacher’s daughter’s husband posted pictures from a camping trip with his college buddies on Facebook does NOT mean I need to look at them.
I wish I would be deliberate about all media. Wouldn’t it be nice to ask these questions before clicking on anything:

  • Will this make an impact on my life?

  • Will I care about this tomorrow?
Whenever I read six or seven HuffPost Parenting articles before bed, I rarely remembereven one of them in the morning. This proves that all my clicking is nothing more than a waste of time and brain power. Too much information waters down the good information. 
It’s like overeating. It feels good in the moment, but you most likely will regret it later. If you are going to spend an hour reading your Twitter feed, then go for it. But be deliberate. Make sure you have an hour; make sure you stop after an hour. 
3. Say no.

Kids’ events can suck the life right out of parents. It’s a child-centered culturefor sure. No parent can do it all, can they? If I would attend every event just this week that has something to do with my children, I would use up (calculating calculating) about 18 hours. Three soccer games, a dance class, a scouting event, a church event, another church event, a birthday party, another birthday party, a meeting at school, another meeting at school. 
Our society has built itself in the past several years solely around kids. It’s expected that parents drop everything to tend to every detail of every organized activity of their children. 
My kids attend public school, church, and do ONE extra-curricular each. It seems like that stuff should not strain our family time and cause stress, but somehow all the little events add up into more than we can handle. 
Sometimes I say no. Seriously. Can you imagine? I would rather my kids have a sane momthan a supermom who is a room mom/a soccer mom/a dance mom/a scout mom/a working mom/a stay-at-home mom. (Disclaimer – I do have a low tolerance for chaos. Some of my happiest friends are the ones with their schedules jam-packed with activities.)
4. Sometimes it’s okay to get that slushy.

Though I want to stick by the first three “rules,” I do assert that flexibility is important. I have to be realistic. I can’t read to my kids every night, so I shouldn’t beat myself up when the chapter goes unread.
Sometimes situations come along and throw all so-called priorities out the window.
We are called to be Jesus to others, so I don’t want to miss out on opportunities to serve by being rigid. Conversations with my children should also precede my agenda. When a kid wants to talk to me, I want to be able to drop everything and listen (unless the topic is Minecraft, ugh).
Any comments/advice for me about time management? I’d love to hear how you do life!
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