Have you heard of the 8-8-8 rule? I just heard about it recently and it’s been on my mind alot. The idea is that to live a balanced life you need to spend 8 hours for work, 8 hours for rest and 8 hours for yourself. It’s an interesting idea. I like guidelines, or maybe its targets I can aim for; something I can guage my success by. 8-8-8 lets me compare where I am and see what needs to be adjusted.
So, with all my contemplation about this “rule” I have, of course, come up with a few tweaks. I really don’t need 8 hours of sleep. I function quite well on 7 hours a night consistently. And there are plenty of ways I’d like to use that extra hour rather than sleeping! I work in a non-profit and one of the things that keeps me in that world (its not the paycheck) is the flexibility and the hours. I work a 35 hour week with some evening and weekend commitments. So I don’t have a problem with the 8 hours for work. But the 8 hours for me? That just doesn’t work.
I don’t know of a Mom or Dad who has 8 hours of me time. It’s just ludicrous. But, as a Mom I do need some me time. I can tell when it’s been a while since I’ve had any. I’m not nice when I haven’t had time to feed my soul, as I describe it. These are the things that rejuvenate me and allow me to come back strong. As a mom, your time is not your own. You have to put everyone else’s needs ahead of your own. And that’s as it should be for this season of life. But that doesn’t mean you never make time for yourself.
I think it’s about finding balance in the last 8 hours. Maybe it needs to be 3-3-3; 3 on family, 3 on marriage and 3 on self. The sheer management of a family of five is time consuming. From planning meals to updating schedules, to managing the cleaning to getting everyone where they need to be when they need to be there with the equipment they need to have. I probably spend at least 3 hours per day on those tasks.
Its so easy to put your marriage on the back burner during these parenting years. It would be so simple to set it on auto pilot and focus on the activity of the day. But, when you do that day after day, week after week, year after year, it adds up. You wake up one day and realize, your marriage has been on the back burner for years! And you’ve done a big disservice to your family, your spouse and yourself. When the kids are grown and gone, the damage is done and its much more difficult to reconnect.
And woven throughout the 8 (or 9) hours is faith development and a personal relationship with God for yourself, nurturing your children’s spiritual life and keeping Christ at the center of your marriage. Not a small task, but more important than all the rest.
That’s all nice in theory, but when the rubber hits the road how do I make it work? I will share what I’ve learned and what tips I’ve come up with for managing the remaining 8 hours of my day in a future post.