Three sanity lifelines during a hectic schedule

When you’re the new pastor’s wife everyone wants to have coffee with you. This isn’t bragging as much as the nature of the beast.

All the women are intrigued by you and want to ask you all about your life. They want to hear your life story and how you came to faith and what’s your go-to potluck recipe. They want to make sure you feel welcomed and asked the hallowed, “How can I pray for you?” question.

It’s all very wonderful and exciting. Until it’s not.

Until you’ve filled every hour that the kids are in school with this coffee date, or that lunch, or one more prayer walk. Until you look down at your phone and realize the kids get out in thirty minutes and you have to rush to grab them right that very second.

As you’re driving away, way more caffeinated and slightly more connected, you ask yourself, “What kind of crazy sauce life am I living?” And then you decide to do something about it.

This is where I was last June right before the summer break. We moved to L.A. last February and as soon as the kids started school a month later, I started filling my schedule with these “get to know you” dates.

Being an ESFJ, I was exhilarated with a full week of meetings. Determined to transition well into not only this new city and new church, but also my role as a pastor’s wife. I thought saying “yes” was a given. My Southern upbringing wouldn’t have me do anything but be all gracious, all available. All. The. Time.

I realized very quickly that pace was unsustainable, for me, for my family, and for the women in my church. More times than I’m comfortable with, I heard from them, “You’re just so busy!”

Socrates once said, “Beware the bareness of a busy life.” That’s how those months of appointments upon appointments felt. Barren. They were full of activity, but empty of substantial connections.

This isn’t a whole life, by any stretch of the imagination. So, over the summer while the kids played in the pool and I read books about time management and creativity in the fringe hours, I made three boundaries to keep me social and sane.

1. Only two coffee dates a week. One local, and one that requires a drive.

L.A. is different than Boston in that we’re always in our cars. I went from using the T almost everyday to relying on my car simply to grocery shop. Within week one of moving here, I gave a huge portion of my Starbucks While Writing budget to the gasoline line item (that one stung).

I’m adjusting, maybe not fast enough, but I’m trying. Until I’m completely okay with being in the car more often, driving downtown (a thirty minute drive from our suburb) is a huge commitment, so once a week seems like a good starting place.

There are some weeks where we have a meeting for church that requires me to be downtown more than once. In those cases, I try to schedule appointments before or after so I can stay close to home which leads me to the next boundary.

managing a busy schedule

2. Be home an hour and a half before the kids get out of school.

This boundary has caused me to miss out on a couple of coffee dates, and I’ve had more than a few confused responses when I say, “Sure I can meet you for lunch, but it’ll only be 45 minutes. I have to be back home by 1:00 because the kids get out at of school at 2:30.”

In those first few months of rushing from an outing to pick the kids up from school, I was almost always late and frazzled because I hadn’t transitioned from being “friend” to “mom,” and I resented the kids a bit for getting out of school.

That resentment manifested in snapping, rushing through the fast food lane for comfort milkshakes, and impatient homework help. Nobody was happy to be home.

If I’m home for at least an hour and a half before the kids come home, I can do chores, make phone calls, or eat lunch in peace. I can sit by our pool and read or take a nap. I can enjoy the quiet of my home, which is the best gift you can give to a stay at home mom. In addition to the hour and a half at home I budget every day, I have my Anchor Day.

3. Observe an Anchor Day, and Keep it Holy.

This isn’t a Sabbath in the traditional sense. It’s not a Saturday and it’s not primarily dedicated to spiritual nourishment. But it is a Sabbath—a day set apart for refreshing.

I call it an Anchor Day because I position it in the middle of the week, either Wednesday or Thursday, to ground me in the hustle and bustle of a busy ministry family life.

The nature of our calling is that we’re at the mercy of so many people’s schedules. I knew that going in, but I also know that I can’t be on, all the time, and still keep my head above the water. So I started observing Anchor Day.

I don’t plan a single thing outside the home on this day. Everything I do on my Anchor Day is home-centered. DIYs, trying out a new crock pot recipe, organizing a messy space… these are all things I do on my Anchor Day.

Don’t think I’m all virtuous and Pinteresty, because I’m not. I get lost in those show binges that I can’t watch with the kiddos in the room, like House of Cards or Mozart in the Jungle. I even write or podcast or create new graphics for my site.

I never thought of my self as a homebody, but ever since I installed Anchor Day in my weekly schedule, I really identify with the words of Maya Anglou: “The ache of home lives in all of us.”

Anchor Day addresses this ache and fills me up so I can be home, a safe place where my kids and my church family are welcomed.

managing a busy schedule

These boundaries are a little strange to some, I know. At first, they felt restrictive and unkind. I hated telling people no or scheduling out a few weeks instead of being spontaneous. My mantra in these moments is they can have Spontaneous Osheta,  who now rushes out at every invitation, or they can wait a few weeks and have a more centered and present Osheta.

I’m happy I created these boundaries for me at the beginning of the school year. I have a newfound love for my home and this new church community.

My kids have noticed a change in me when they come home, too, so much so that when I’m a little loud or sigh a few too many times, they ask if I had a late meeting. These times usually happen when they get out early, which I’m still figuring out how to navigate with these new boundaries.

Upholding these boundaries has made me a more confident woman. I’m owning my limitations and honoring the unique way I’m made, which is wholehearted living at its best.

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37 Comments

  1. Maryalene

    Those are great boundaries! I’ve been thinking about this topic a bit lately. It’s great to say we want to be less busy and add more space or margin into our lives, but putting that into practice can be hard. “More space” is such a fuzzy goal. I love that you found concrete guidelines for your life to accomplish it. Now I just need to find the right guidelines for my life so I can do the same. 🙂

    • Osheta

      Thank you, Maryalene! I hope you find them too. I think the biggest thing was knowing myself and my limitations, once I figured those out, the right guidelines fell into place pretty naturally.

  2. Heather

    I love the idea of an anchor day! I am trying to create more space in our lives, and it is definitely difficult. It is easy to feel overwhelmed as moms I think, and then to add in others’ expectations on top of my own was a big struggle for me. I have learned to be mindful of my time, what I can accomplish, and what I need to be home for. Great tips!

  3. Missy Robinson

    I’m so in love with the concept of an “Anchor Day!” My husband and I have fallen into this without even realizing it. Ours is Saturday, where we are very home and together-focused and we can reconnect. What a great plan and healthy boundaries that you have in place.

    • Osheta

      Oh how I wish Saturday could be our day. It’s taken a lot for me to accept the shift to a mid-week day, but I actually like have a day of rest right in the middle of the week. It feels like the pit stop I need. Thanks for sharing what you and your husband do, Missy!

  4. Margret Boweyr

    Beautiful post! I so enjoyed the two quotations and I admire your boundary setting. The Anchor Day is perfect. So many people really need that in their lives. Thank you for sharing.

    • Osheta

      I love those quotes too, Margaret! Thank you for your encouragement.

  5. Kathleen Kennedy

    My Anchor Day has been Wednesday for a while now and it really works for me since it’s in the middle of the week. I work outside the home on M, T, Th, F but on Weds I am home with my youngest (my other two are in school). We run errands, play, hang out at home, catch up on laundry, organize stuff, and just generally chill. It feels like a “re-set” day where I can catch up and just take a deep breath and then feel energized for the rest of the week. Once all my kids are in school, I’d love to do some other things with this day too, if I can still manage to have it. (P.S. I’ve never called it an Anchor Day but your phrase resonated with me and I’ll probably start using it in my head from now on!)

    • Osheta

      “It feels like a “re-set” day where I can catch up and just take a deep breath and then feel energized for the rest of the week.” exactly. I love the way you think of it as a re-set. Once the kids are in school your Anchor Day will absolutely look different, but you’ll find your rhythm. I’m so sure of it. Thanks for sharing how you manage your hectic schedule, Kathleen!

  6. Krista

    These boundaries sound like freedom to me:) Space to breathe and consider and build my home.

    • Osheta

      Yes! Exactly, Krista. Thank you so much for affirming my boundaries. It’s tough sometimes to do what you know will bring you freedom and space.

  7. Katrina

    “I’m owning my limitations and honoring the unique way I’m made, which is wholehearted living at its best.” What a powerful statement. Thank you for sharing it. That sentence is going to be pinned at my desk so that I can reflect on it often.

    • Osheta

      Mine too, Katrina. I think I need to remember that in all areas of my life, not just my schedule. Thanks for sharing your favorite line of the post, I’m glad you liked it.

  8. Edna

    As one who has been a pastor’s wife for thirty years I find your approach balanced and wise. My piece of advise concerns your saying to someone “Sure I can meet you for lunch, but it’ll only be 45 minutes. I have to be back home by 1:00 because the kids get out at of school at 2:30.” Do not feel compelled to say why you’re not available after 1:00. Some with different circumstances or perspectives will not understand and may feel slighted. I would only share this policy with those who ask about how you balance life, not in relation to a visit with someone.

    • Beth

      Maybe, “I can’t stay past one because our family has found that it’s really important for me to be home plenty of time before the kids get out of school.” I say that because as a PK it was difficult for me to handle the assumption everyone had that we were a perfect family and could do everything. It was assumed because we were the pastor’s family. I don’t think we helped correct this assumption either – not necessarily out of pride, but just because it was awkward to verbally correct. It’s more difficult to say, “No, we can’t get out the door on a Sunday morning without almost killing each other,” than “No, we’re not perfect, ha, ha,” and not elaborate. People may also not have realized that a major reason my parents chose to home school was because of the demands of church. We couldn’t physically manage a crazy church schedule and a crazy school schedule. Homeschooling allowed us to sleep in the next morning after cleaning up after a late night fellowship. But I don’t think people realized that was a big part of my parents’ decision. They just thought my mom was supermom. One of the most freeing things I saw as a teen was a letter from a well regarded missionary family. She wrote that they had all been sick and were exhausted and discouraged about being sick and the political climate of where they were living. Unthinkable things to mention at the time in a missionary update letter. Now that my husband and I are in full-time service we really try to be transparent with people. Including about our boundaries. Sometimes people don’t understand and may even judge but we also hope we are setting a good example for others – serving starts at home and you don’t have to have it all together. That’s the beauty of grace-filled serving.

    • Osheta

      Absolutely, Edna. I usually don’t go into that much detail when I’m scheduling things. It’s only when I get a question or confused look. I try to be very grace-filled in my responses and scheduling, but even still, some people don’t understand.

      And Beth! I love the story of the letter from the missionary family. It shows the importance of authenticity in leadership.

      I really appreciate these thoughts on communicating boundaries in a gracious and winsome way.

  9. Christina

    I too love the idea of “anchor day.” We have given up personal cars for good, and I feel the difference! I do not miss driving for one single second. Ever.

    • Osheta

      Oh how I wish I could give up our here in LA. But unfortunately, its a non-negotiable. We actually had a year in Boston where we didn’t have a car and it was glorious.

  10. kimberly

    Well done! So many great thoughts in here.
    I love anchor days, but as a mom whose kids are always home, I am working to carve out some time for me to have in solitude. It’s a work in progress. 🙂

    • Osheta

      Oh yes, Kimberly. I was just telling my husband tonight that I have to figure out how to anchor on the days the kids are home from school. Maybe I’ll write a follow-up post with some thoughts about that. I mean…once I get my own plan and expectations in place :).

  11. Angie

    This has been on my mind A LOT lately as well and I’ve mulled over several ideas for making space. Like others have said, it’s so hard. Wouldn’t it be nice to just start with a clean slate, a blank schedule, and only add those things that you know fill you up? I’ve toyed with the idea of having a “year of no” where I decline every request that comes my way. Seems severe but I think it would give me the backbone I need to say no in the future to things that don’t fit my life’s purpose. If I decide to do it I’ll have to blog about it!

    • Osheta

      I think you should go with that “year of no” instinct. We put so much value in the yes, that we forget about the power of “no”. I can’t wait to hear what you decide, but it sounds like you’re thinking about this issue with a lot of wisdom and intentionality. Good luck!

  12. Amy

    Great words of wisdom! As a pastor’s daughter and now pastor’s wife as well, I resonate with your advice.

    • Osheta

      I’m glad to hear that, Amy. You’re pretty cool to go from PK to Pastor’s wife. I really admire women who have spent their whole lives loving and serving the church. You rock.

  13. Amanda S @ Passionately Simple Life

    Love the Anchor Day name! This was something I did one weekday morning when working second shift. There was always someone or something trying to get me out of the house, and then rushing to 8 hours of work didn’t leave me rested at all. I’m starting to realize that there is a lot to life but there is also so much to home and what it can offer.

    • Osheta

      Yep. Home should be the place we relax and rest and maybe even enjoy. Too often is just feels like a pit stop on the relentless track of life. I’m glad you’re making home a bigger part of your life/schedule.

  14. Alisa

    These are great points, Tsh! I can totally relate to #2! One thing that can stress me out the most is no down time. When I feel like I’m running from here to there all day with no break, I can get a little crabby…. Ok a lot crabby! I love how you set boundaries and stick with them! That is definitely something I need work on!

    • Osheta

      Hey Alisa. Osheta here, I’m so glad you like my article! I so get crabby too! And then I bit everyone’s head off or need a Snickers stat and end up feeling even more crabby for my bad choices. It all starts with accepting limitations and creating boundaries—well at least it does for me. Thanks for commenting and I hope you find your own peaceful rhythm.

  15. Jlynn

    I learned of something similar from a group of nuns who live in a poor inner-city neighborhood. They call it Shut Down Day. Signs go up on the door that they are not available and each one does their own thing that day. It could be laundry and personal errands or it could be sleeping in late and spending the morning reading in bed…..

    I try to do this one weekend day each week. I like the image that Anchor Day has when I hear it. I’m going to adopt that phrase. Also, on my personal Anchor Day I keep the tv and my cell phone off.

    • Osheta

      That Shut Down Day is brilliant. I love how so many traditions and communities have their own version of Sabbath. Thanks for sharing the story of the nuns with me, Jlynn! It’s so good and such a lasting example of community supporting one another to rest.

  16. Sarah Mueller

    Those boundaries sound lovely! I’m sure they bring a huge dose of peace to your busy life 🙂 I know I’m always so happy when we don’t have to go anywhere after school.

  17. Emily Roach

    Anchor Day. Brilliant. I also want to extend that to the kid’s schedule that day too. Thank you!

  18. Gary Ware

    I regret NOT having done this or anything similar during my working adult life. Your plan is simple, efficient, effective and practical. During my 60 years of working and retired life I have known less than ten men/husbands/fathers that have done this, excluding me. My son in law allocates specific days each month for each child and his wife, our daughter.

    There is a distinct stability and family bond within those families. I took time with my daughter and wife but not dedicated time and I learned there is a HUGE difference between the types. I applaud you and encourage any husbands/fathers reading your plan to adopt this.

  19. James

    Utilization of free time should be pre-planned so that Smart schedule bring better opportunity to general life.

  20. Renee Tougas

    Love the anchor day.

  21. Marcia from Organising Queen

    I love the concept of an Anchor Day 🙂 I think I may need to start blocking out some Anchor half days 🙂

  22. Chelsa

    I LOVE the idea of “Anchor Day”. I recently started planning one in the middle of my week and I called it “sanity day”….I felt if I had one full day where I didnt plan anything outside the home, I could keep my sanity! 🙂 But Anchor Day sounds so much nicer 🙂

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