In learning to be a good steward of one's resources, it is important to include time management. I must confess that some seasons of my life have seen better time management than others. I've learned that time management is an area of stewardship that needs constant work and can always be improved upon - at least that's how it applies to my life.
So, how much time do we really have? Everyone is allotted 8,760 hours per year. This number can be deceiving. When we begin to break our time down into days, hours and minutes and begin filling in tasks and responsibilities most of us start wishing we had more - a lot more. This is why time management is an important aspect of good stewardship for any area of one's life - not just the kitchen and home.
Taking time to maintain a balanced household budget and spend time with family around the meal table eliminates a tremendous amount of stress within the family unit. Identifying and conquering time bandits is an excellent start to acquiring more time for the things that really matter in our day to day lives. Social networking, internet surfing, television & movies, video/computer games, reading fiction, etc. steal so much of our time. We are all, me included, guilty of just doing a quick check of our e-mails, reading just one section of a new novel, or watching just one 30 min. program and before we even realize it we've lost 1, 2 or 3 hours of our very precious and limited time. Time that can never be retrieved or made up.
The realization that we are the Chief Operations Officers of our homes is where many folks suddenly realize that time management is of vital importance to the well being of one's family. The COO's of major corporations do not spend hours each day on social networking sites, internet surfing, watching television, etc. They are focused on the daily operations, the personnel requirements, the quarterly goals and the profit margins of the corporations they manage. How much more important are our homes and families to us? As the COO's of our homes it is our responsibility to manage and schedule the day to day operations of our homes while making sure those operations are aligned with the long term goals our families.
As challenging as all this may sound to the average person, it really isn't difficult.
1. Just as an employer would assign a work schedule, we need to have a "work schedule" for our homes. We should always begin, stop and take breaks at the same time daily - just as we would if working for a corporation.
2. Make a list of all the responsibilities involved in operating the home: i.e., laundry, tidying up, deep cleaning, meals, shopping, schoolwork, yard work, farm work, animals/pets, time with children, errands, paperwork/accounting/filing, time with spouse, sports/extra activities, gardening, workout routines, social commitments, educational commitments, church commitments, bedtime routines, etc.
3. Implement a schedule. Just like a job outside the home, use a calendar to schedule specific days / times for various responsibilities. Many people are surprised to find that as they implement a routine, their families become calmer, more disciplined and happier.
4. Delegate various responsibilities to those who live with you, especially your children. Taking time today to teach your children how to perform age appropriate chores will save you hours, days, weeks and months as the years pass. If elderly parents or other relatives live with your family, incorporate their help as well. If they are physically unable to assist with chores and household responsibilities, recruit them to lead the children's reading hour, supervise craft time, play indoor board games, etc., thus, providing you with an hour of uninterrupted time for household accounting, or other responsibilities that need your undivided attention.
5. Manage the home. Remember, you are the COO of your home - act like it. Write out daily, weekly, monthly goals and the tasks required to achieve them. As things on the "to do" list are completed, mark them off. Follow up with others to confirm their responsibilities are completed, performed correctly and provide additional training, if needed.
When we learn to effectively manage our time within the home, that is when we will find that we really do have time for meal planning and daily family meals. Family meals not only help us maintain a grocery budget but they also build strong families and contribute to the long term health and well being of the family unit.