“Finding Time for Mother,” Ensign, Mar. 1987, 70
I had been explaining to my friend Betty how much I had missed the children while they were away on a two-week vacation, yet how frustrated I felt now that they were home again at not having any time to call my own. She listened sympathetically, then answered, “I used to feel that way too. Then I learned a lesson. I found that if I take a little time out each week for myself, I feel much more relaxed and effective when I’m with the kids.”
Betty’s words stayed with me. She was right! What I needed was not a long vacation, but a little time each week to gain some perspective. When I talked it over with my husband, he pointed out that most employers know their employees need to “get away” from their work periodically, and they give them breaks, days off, and vacations for that purpose. He told me, “Your job is a big one. I’m sure it is as important for you to have time off as it is for me. I’m surprised we haven’t thought of it before.” He offered to help me find the time I needed.
We began examining my days to see how I spent my time. It surprised me to find that I wasted minutes that added up to hours because of lack of planning and organization. Sometimes I wasted time standing around trying to decide what to do next, or spinning my wheels because I didn’t want to do what I knew needed to be done. Often I would do things that other members of the family could and should do. Taking too much time with some tasks because they were boring was another time-waster.
I learned that I can keep my housework under control if I set limits on the time I spend. I make a weekly schedule and restrict the cleaning, ironing, cooking, and shopping chores to a few each day. Then I set a time limit for their completion. When my time is up, I finish what I am doing and stop for the day. It is amazing how much drudgery this system eliminates.
The fact that I need some time to revitalize myself doesn’t detract from my desire to fill my role as a wife and mother. My “time off” may be nothing more than an hour to relax with a novel while the baby is asleep, instead of spending that time ironing. Or it may be a visit to my neighborhood beauty salon, from which I emerge feeling pampered and refreshed. The hours I set aside to do something for someone else are especially enjoyable.
The most rewarding projects are those which develop my talents. I joined a writers’ league, and this motivated me to write and submit several articles for publication. When my first published article arrived in the mail, I squealed for joy, danced in delight, and cried a little. Gary and the children insisted on a celebration, and they were nearly as excited as I was.
My children like their new enthusiastic mother—and so do I!—Arlene Bascom, Bountiful, Utah