Systems for parents who want to do good work in the world and at home.
One of the principles behind my Create Balance Method is that we all have three limited resources at our disposal:
We only have limited time in a day, a week, a month, a year, no matter how much we try to squeeze in or how much sleep we think we can give up. We also only have so much mental and emotional energy at our disposal before we need to recharge. We all know the feeling of losing our patience and focus more quickly when we are tired and worn out. Many of us know the feeling of not being sure you can make it through the rest of the day, only to see that it is only 2 in the afternoon, and there are still errands to run, children to be fed and bathed, and work that we hope to finish up tonight, but we suspect it will remain “not quite done” for a while.
We can get away with days like that here and there. But when this exhausted desperation becomes our normal way of moving through life, something has to change.
I used to think that I would never find a sense of balance and calm in my crazy days of parenting, working, and just existing. I started to wonder if I was just screwing things up, because I felt like a total mess and everyone around me seemed to have it together. But after years of really talking to other parents and studying the psychology behind feelings of overwhelm, attention, and time use, I started to see patterns. More specifically, I learned the following:
- Most of us are just trying to make it through one day at a time, and we’re all pretty sure we’re messing up left and right, even when we look like we functioning.
- A lot of us talk about how busy we are to mask the fact that we are actually kind of miserable most of time. We think “being busy” is what hard-working people do, so we are willing to take on quite a bit of pain to fall in that category.
- We don’t need to do more yoga, or attend a meditation retreat, or even find the holy grail of the “flexible work-from-home” job. We just need a system; a system that focuses our TIME, MENTAL and EMOTIONAL energy on our essential values.
Once you have established some essential values in your life it’s time to match your time to your values. This is easier said than done for most of us. However, one of those “live-in-balance systems” I use in my own life, and share with my clients, is SACRED TIME
What is Sacred Time?
The word “sacred” usually refers to religion. There are sacred holidays, sacred time to commune with one’s God, etc. But I talk about “sacred time” using its lesser known definition. Sacred also means “untouchable” or “protected.”
Your time, mental, and emotional energy may not be your religion. But they do deserve the same reverence and protection that our spirituality often demands.
Creating sacred time simply means that you create a few specific blocks of time to focus on one of your essential values. These are not times for multi-tasking. These are not times that can be moved around or just put off until tomorrow. These are the times that are untouchable. They are an appointment with yourself and your values: the most important appointment you can keep.
An Example of Sacred Time
One example of sacred time in action is my after-school time with my son. When he started kindergarten it was a shock to realize that there was only a limited time of day to really play with him on the weekdays, because there were only two days a week that I was a) actually home when he got home from school, and b) it really wasn’t long after he got home that it was time to make dinner and get our evening routine going. I was used to being able to get my own work done, clean up a bit, or even squeeze in a workout, from 2-4, while his sister is napping and he had “quiet time.” But if that routine continued in this first kindergarten year I wouldn’t have the relaxed playtime I used to have with him a couple of mornings a week. I knew that having some relaxed playtime with my kids makes me a calmer parent, and also allows me to live guilt-free when I can’t give them my full attention at other points in the day. So I had to make time.
Now, Wednesday afternoons, from 2:30 pick-up until 4:00pm, my son gets my attention. It doesn’t matter if there are dishes to be done, papers to grade, blog posts to write, etc. That is my sacred time with my son. It’s only one day a week. Sure, I play with him other times – it’s not the only time he gets my attention! But it is our sacred time, the time we both can count on to connect with each other, to play whatever game or do whatever activity he wants. It’s the time I can count on if I was feeling frazzled after my 12-hour work-day on Tuesday, or that I’m happy I had as I hole up in my office for an extra hour on Thursday. This sacred time allows me to live out some of my parenting values distraction-free and guilt-free.
Sacred time works when it is limited, focused and intentionally planned using the actual flow of your day. Your whole calendar can’t be filled with sacred time blocks – it just won’t work that way and then “sacred time” will get watered down to just mean getting a to-do list done. You can start enacting sacred time this week by picking one activity that brings you joy and fulfillment, but that you haven’t been actually doing enough. Pick a block of time: once a week, once a month, or even once a day. Commit to this sacred time. Tell the others around you what this sacred time is for. They will help hold you accountable! Most importantly, look forward to this sacred time. get excited about it. Whether it is my Wednesday afternoons with my son, or my morning writing time with my steaming cup of coffee, my sacred times aren’t a burden. They are a joy, a moment in my day that I look forward to. While I may not be going to church or meditating I like to think these moments of my life are connecting me with a higher purpose; my own values and my very own life that I’m living ever day.
5 Strategies to Make Sacred Time a REALITY today.
Make sacred time a reality today - even if you haven't had your first cup of coffee.