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Intersection of Life and Faith

Too Much to Do? Try Juggling

  • Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
  • 2001 4 Jan
Too Much to Do?  Try Juggling
If you’re the parent of a young child, you’ve experienced the futility of trying to actually do everything you’d like to do. The sheer amount of tasks that cry out for your attention on a daily basis can be overwhelming. It’s easy to feel frustrated and want to drop some of the balls you’re carrying. But with a little one – or more – depending on you, you can’t drop any of them.

There is a way to function despite this dilemma: You can juggle your tasks.

Here are some ways you can juggle the tasks that face you every day:

  • Think and pray about what priorities you should set for your life. Then set them clearly, letting others know your boundaries and making decisions that align with your priorities. Remember that your time is valuable, even if you’re staying home with your child and aren’t currently earning a paycheck. Always remind yourself of what’s truly important to you.

  • Keep in mind that life has a way of throwing unexpected curves into even the best plans. Be flexible, willing to drop what you’re doing at a moment’s notice to respond to something important. But remember that not all urgent activities are important ones. Answering the phone when you don’t know who it is may seem urgent, but could very well be unimportant. Interrupting a task to help your child if he or she gets hurt, however, is well worth your time.

  • Break each task down into segments that are easy for you to tackle in short periods of time. For example, rather than becoming overwhelmed at the prospect of painting a whole room all at once, paint it for just a half hour each day until it’s done. Each step in the process of completing a task represents real progress.

  • Allocate some time every day just to play with your child. Give him or her your full attention as you interact, even if you only have a brief amount of time to do so on any given day. Enjoy your child.

  • Ask your child to help you accomplish certain tasks, doing whatever your child can do at his or her age. For example, a preschooler could help you sort laundry, feed pets, or load the dishwasher.

  • Encourage your child to spend some time every day playing alone. Set a timer and give him or her materials for a project, then explain that while you do your project, he or she can do a project, too. For example, while you make a phone call, your child can color some pictures with crayons and paper.

  • Teach siblings to resolve their conflicts on their own sometimes so they don’t take their arguments to you all the time.

  • Create a comfortable bedroom for your child so he or she thinks of it as a positive place in which to take naps and sleep at night. Be firm about maintaining regular naps and bedtimes for your child. Establish regular routines before naps and bedtimes, such as reading your child a story and praying with your child.

  • Give yourself time to do something just for yourself every day. Create blocks of time to revive yourself spiritually, physically, and mentally. The time you have to invest in yourself likely won’t be at the same schedule every day, but you can usually still carve out the same amount of time into your day, whether in the morning, afternoon, or evening. Remember that if you nurture yourself, you’ll be better able to nurture your child. Strive to spend a bit of time praying, reading the Bible (even if just for a few minutes), exercising, thinking, and pursuing a hobby every day.

  • Invest in your marriage. Schedule regular times to be alone with your husband. If traditional dates aren’t practical for you because of babysitting or financial issues, schedule dates at home after your child has gone to bed.

  • Maintain a sense of humor.

  • Forgive your child often, and ask God for the grace to express generous love to him or her.

Adapted from Juggling Tasks, Tots, and Time, copyright 2001 by Cathy Penshorn. Published by Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich.,,

Cathy Penshorn was a public relations account supervisor prior to the birth of her children. She was a coordinator of a Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) leadership team for four years, has written articles about mothering, and has been an invited speaker to MOPS groups. She lives near San Antonio, Texas, with her husband and their three sons.

What time pressures do you face due to the demands of raising a young child? How have you been able to effectively juggle the tasks that you face every day? What encouragement can you offer other parents of young children? Visit the Books forum to respond, or read what others have to say. Just click on the link below.