So, we’ve just finished week 1 of Sarf. So far it has been good alhamdulillah. Yesterday though, we had a guest speaker talk about time management. He showed us the 4 quadrants found in Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People/Families/Teens.
He also introduced us to the acronym
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Agreeable
R – Realistic
T- Timely/Time bound
For sure, we need tips and advice on time management especially in an intensive program such as Dream, and especially for people who are juggling several things at once. We all have different tests though. From my experience and observation, when you don’t have as much responsibilities, your test is free time, because you have a LOT of it. When you grow older and are laden with a lot of responsibilities, your test is still free time, because you still have it, maybe not as much, but you need to step out of the box to see its existence.
As a homeschooling mother who thrives from staying home and being in control of her own schedule, I find pleasure in actually planning my schedule. To do lists are my anchor against forgettting and time wasting. That doesn’t mean I’m immune from wasting time though. I always think of the tests Allah gives to us are custom tailored to our personal strengths and weaknesses.
My typical youth is short lived. What I mean by that is that I became a mother at a relatively young age in the culture I am in. Which means that while my peers were still spending their youth traveling the world without much responsibilities, I had the responsibilities of a mother and wife on my shoulders, as well as being a student. I had to learn the act of juggling these responsibilities early on, and I know that sounds brattish because there are many others who have had to juggle more responsibilities at a younger age and so who am I to ‘martyr’ize myself? Well, let’s just say that I was very immature that for me, that was a LOT, and Allah does not burden a soul beyond its capacity and that was probably my capacity.
My growth or maturity was sped up because of that. My weakness was my immaturity and tendency to complain and throw tantrums. My strength is an inclination towards organization and planning and being in control of my own time. So, through that test, my weakness was tempered and I had to learn the hard way and actually grow up, and my strength was put to the test to help me cope through that period.
It’s very important that we really truly know ourselves in order to deal with life’s tests. I didn’t really know myself that well and as I’m typing, I think I’m still discovering who I am, and since human beings are dynamic, we are not who we think we are because we may change over time. So, this process of knowing oneself is a life long process that should always be running in the background and sometimes will and should come to the foreground, putting a halt to all the other processes that are taking place on the main drive.
Mothers have the huge responsibility of raising their children. That alone takes a huge chunk of time. So it’s a struggle trying to fit in anything else. However, like I said before, there is free time, maybe not as much as someone with less responsibilities, but there are free time floating around that we mothers may not realize. The speaker yesterday talked about how if we add up all the time we watch TV, or sleep, etc, they would add up to years from our lifetime. So it’s a big deal for us to carve free time by ditching the non urgent non important activities we habitually engage in (in other words, the time we technically waste), and these carved time will add up to a significant amount of time over the span of our lifetime. They make a huge difference.
As a mother, I also have to say that motherhood has its own stages. There is a stage where your children need your full attention such that even when you try to carve out free time, you’ll find yourself hard pressed, also depending on the specific and unique needs of the children as Allah also blesses and tests us with these children of different personalities and needs. For some mothers, their reward lies completely in their taking care of their families with ihsaan. For others however, if they look hard enough, they can actually carve free time from their schedule from some rearranging, such that they can actually pursue something else on the side and be in Allah’s service in another way. This is not to put down the status of just being a mother and nothing else, but we all have different callings and different family situations that can enable us to be mothers as well as something else. The test will then be balancing the rights of others upon you.
When my children were younger, my days were mostly devoted to them, but with Allah’s mercy and permission, somehow, now that I think back to it, I was able to make my schedule such that they would all nap at the same time every day, and I was able to regularly workout, and explore domestic life such that I actually gained some skills. When the kids grew older, I am then able to explore other areas of life, primarily studying the deen and I’m loving it. Alhamdulillah.
It’s important to remember that in a family, you do need family support. I can’t do this if it wasn’t for my husband’s support. So, sometimes, you have to see what your own situation is, and not compare yourself to other families, because each family is different. Maybe, someone else may be able to do certain things, and you are beating yourself up over not being able to do the same things. But it may be the case that no matter how hard you try, your situation just doesn’t allow you to. It’s important to know the distinction between letting yourself off too easily and trying as hard as you humanly can. In the end, it’s up to Allah.
Sometimes, in our lives, Allah gives us the ability or the tawfeeq to achieve or do certain things, and at other times in our lives, Allah decrees for us things that we may see as unfavorable, but in His wisdom, He has His reasons, which we may never know, or which we may come to know of later on in reflective hindsight. I always used to look longingly at my friends who were able to ‘fully’ (relatively) enjoy their youth while I was struggling to learn parenthood while juggling school. But, now, I’m still relatively young, and am able to do all that I’m doing now, with those 3 kids as part of my team. Each stage in our lives has been lovingly designed by our Rabb to nurture us in our growth and rectify our shortcomings, if we look at it with the attitude of a slave who accepts and is patient and grateful for whatever his master gives to him.
Sometimes we have goals and plans for certain things or situations but it may not always work out that way. Instead of being disappointed and lamenting at not being able to derive all that we had intended to out of it provided that we have tried our best and it wasn’t out of negligence on our part, we should thank Allah and accept that this was what He has allowed for us to get. We didn’t have to be given full faculties, but He did. It wasn’t our right to have all these blessings. In fact, these blessings are privileges given to us by Allah. He can limit them if He wants and He can expand them if He wants. We are completely at His mercy, and what a beautiful thing to be in such a position; to be at the mercy of our loving creator and master.