“How do married people do this?” I exclaimed to my friend after admitting how stressed I am. My fiancé and I are struggling with managing our time — or, should I say, finding time to rest amid all the busyness.
Being busy every day is my nightmare-turned-reality now that I’m engaged. As someone who struggles with fatigue in the first place, a crazy schedule is a challenge for me. However, it makes sense that time is an issue when you mash up two people’s schedules together, even if neither of them are particularly busy people. Suddenly you have two sets of family and friends you want to make time for, two sets of events to attend, two lives that need to merge.
I was single until 28, so it’s not like I’ve been waiting for someone to come fill the holes in my schedule — I populated them myself with things I wanted to do, factoring in the rest time I needed. But now I feel like we only have time for the bare minimum, nevermind the extra little fun things we want to do or all the people we want to see. We cut back on activities, yet our evenings still somehow fill up.
We’re still learning how to make this work, but here’s what we’re doing to streamline our time management and give us enough rest so we can make it through each week.
1. Communicate With Each Other
Communication is probably the most important way to manage time effectively. Realizing at the last minute we’ve scheduled something on the same day is an unneeded addition to stress. Reminding each other about upcoming events and activities we need to plan for is helpful too — neither of us is great at remembering stuff but at least there’s a better chance when two of us know about it. Sharing our calendars has also allowed us to keep track of each other’s schedules, both the things we’re doing together and separately. Doing so has helped me feel much more organized and less stressed.
We also check in with each other before saying yes to something, which I appreciate. I’m a planner, and I like to know things in advance; being blindsided by an event the day of would make me panic, even if I hadn’t scheduled anything that day.
2. Schedule a Day of Rest
After both our stress levels were on the rise, we decided to try scheduling a day of nothing. And it has to be scheduled, otherwise an empty day gets filled up with all the things! This has been incredibly difficult to do, because we have people who want to spend time with us, errands to run, preparations for the wedding to make, game nights to host, family to see. A whole day of staying at home seems like a waste. But I think it’ll be key to my survival and peace of mind. I need the downtime. My brain needs to stop working overtime so it can rest.
3. Do Chores Together
Sometimes it feels like we have to choose between having a clean home and fresh laundry or spending time with each other. Chores need to get done, so rather than miss out on quality time, we’ll often do them together. Making supper together has been a quiet time of bonding. I don’t mind staying in so he can do laundry; he doesn’t mind picking me up after I drop my car off at the mechanic. Plus, I feel like doing these activities together is a helpful precursor to married life.
4. Learn When to Say No
Saying no is a balancing act. I always want to say yes. A friend needs help watching their kids? Sure. We’ve been invited to a movie? Yes, please. Our church is having a pie fundraiser? Let’s go! My family wants to have brunch? Of course.
All the things we want to say yes to are valid, wonderful, important things. Yet, we need to say no sometimes, for the sake of our mental and physical health. However, there’s also the danger of getting so good at saying no that it becomes our default answer and we retreat into our own little world together, never making time for friends or space for ways we can positively impact others. I don’t want our health or our relationships to deteriorate, which requires wisdom to know when to say no.
I feel more at peace when I make time to pray throughout the week. Even a minute or two of laying my burdens on God can deflate much of my stress; and even if it doesn’t, I’m still reminded that God is with me throughout my busyness. God tells us to approach Him when we are busy, stressed and weary: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). Spending time in prayer with my fiancé is also a valuable tool for us to together focus on what’s important and find peace.
We’re still figuring out how to navigate the busyness of two schedules, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers. In fact, I’m not sure there is always an answer — sometimes we’re just going to be tired and stressed, and that’s OK. God watches over us, and we can find peace in Him through times of busyness and stress. I’m thankful God’s calendar always has space for us.
Copyright 2018 Allison Barron. All rights reserved.