Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Scatterbrained to Focused

By Weekly Contributor, Kim Brenneman, Large Family Logistics

As much as I’ve studied and practiced organization, self-discipline, and planning, some mornings my home looks like this: dishes need washing, the laundry needs to be started, someone wants to be fed, my desk has a stack of stuff, I really should exercise, two phone calls need to be returned, there’s a meeting tonight I need to prepare for, children need to be redirected from running circles in a chase game, and… anxiety can begin to rise up in me. I become scatterbrained. It’s time for some focus.

First up is identifying why the home is in this situation at the moment. Identifying the problem is a large part of the solution! I’ll give you a short list of what puts me in this frame and perhaps you can identify with some of it.
  • Being spread too thin, over-committed myself and/or my family
  • A busy weekend preceding a Monday
  • Too much sugar and refined foods for my children resulting in hyperactivity, rough housing
  • Family members not doing what they were delegated to do
  • Not sticking with a plan
  • Not having a plan
  • Disruption and excitement caused by a family member coming home and disrupting routine
Next step is to delegate and follow up with each delegated person to be sure that the work gets done. “Many hands make light work.” I don’t have to do it all myself. Saturday I had my preschoolers wipe the yucky stuff off the front of the dishwasher, the refrigerator and spot mop the floor with simply a wet rag.

Perfectionism is not for busy moms. Big kids can be very helpful; it builds skills, responsibility, and gives them an important purpose in the economy of the family home! Remember to give lots of thanks, praise, and encouraging words.

After delegating, decide that some things just don’t need to be done right now--or ever. What is getting in the way of the life of your family? Adjust your priorities so that the important things get done and the rest can be let go. Get yourself off of committees, out of clubs, quit that business, whatever it is that gets in the way of being the best wife and mom you can be. Yes, God has given each of us gifts and talents that we should use to glorify Him. But He has also given us families. If the way that you are using your unique gift is disruptive to your first priorities then perhaps the use of your gift needs to be changed to a different method and/or put off to a later time in life. Sometimes things creep up on us and we don’t realize that something requires as much time as it does until we are in it. Learn to say no. I read once that each time we say yes to something, we are saying no to our family life. I have found this to be true in my life. Decide what is beneficial to your family and build your life around those things.

Once you’ve delegated and made decisions, set boundaries for your family. There was a time in our life when my husband worked a lot of hours and in certain seasons travelled a lot. We were involved in a small church group one night a week, another night of the week the children went to a church program, in the winter the boys were involved in a sports program that had practices another night of the week. This didn’t happen all at once, it crept up and eventually we saw that all these good things were detrimental to our home life and we slowly cut out all these activities. We made a policy that when dad was home, we were home. We could do extra-curricular things when he was away from home. We also made a decision at one point in time that we would only do winter sports because my husband travelled a lot in spring, summer, and fall. Eventually we decided that sports separated our family too much in the little time we had together. Every family is unique and must be thoughtful and deliberate about the things to be involved in. Setting boundaries that protect the family unit is important for the health of our marriages and our children.

After setting boundaries, put your focus on the details of the home. What do you want your home-life to look like? Get a good visual of what breakfast will look like, then lunch and supper. What about the evenings? The early mornings? The late afternoon? Think about these things and then make steps to change them to be beneficial to your family. When everyone knows what is happening and when it is happening and what is expected of them things go much more smoothly. Then, when disruptions and interruptions happen, it’s easier to get back on track. Make the hours of your day beneficial to your family not just a haphazard affair.

Who are you in the home? How do you see yourself? Identify your weaknesses and spend some time with God and getting right with Him. Repent and make a detailed effort to change from that. Study the Bible concerning your weakness. Do it at a certain time every day, perhaps during the children’s nap/quiet time. Make it a habit. Memorize scripture that emphasize the positive side of the character trait—do you speak unkindly to your children? Memorize verses about kindness. Are you short-tempered? Memorize verses about being patient.

Life seems to run in cycles just like the seasons. Things go smoothly for awhile and then little changes add up until we need to stop and readjust. Set aside some time today for quiet, some tea and to give your life some focus.


Kim Brenneman

Kim is the joyful wife of Matt and the blessed mother of nine children.

When not busy homeschooling and farmschooling, she enjoys writing, gardening, cooking, reading, sewing, and crafting.

Kim lives on a farm in Iowa where her family grows beef cattle, corn and beans, and operates a micro-dairy selling cheese at farmer’s markets. She loves to write and speak about her passion for home and family. She is the author of Large Family Logistics: The Art and Science of Managing the Large Family. She blogs about the same subject at:

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In participation with:
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