Family Emergency

Editor’s Note: This is guest post from the fabulous Makenzie Kelly from the Freedom Venture Project.  I love this post, and I’m anxious to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Maybe you can relate to this Family Emergency? At just five months old, I left my younger son and his three year old brother in the hands of a nanny when I decided to start a business. It felt like when I walked out the door that day, I wouldn’t be back for what seemed like the longest 5 years of my life.

The business was rough and tumultuous, complicated with trying to balance a household, a marriage and two young sons. I used to wonder if my sons would even remember me, and hoped my husband wouldn’t divorce me. I had rationalized to myself that I was building a Financial Empire and the monetary payoff would offset the time sacrifice.

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After 5 years, the monetary compensation was fantastic, the company was a Multi-Million dollar success, but I continued spending a lot more time in the business and very little time with my husband or children. The worst part was even when I was home, I was always on the phone, emailing and spending my time stressing about what needed to be done.

I was not present. My Family Emergency was an Emergency of Time.

Can You Relate?

Which part of this story do you resonate with? Coming home late and having no time to spend with your family? Or the part when you’re home, but not really present while you click away on your laptop, talk on your cell phone or text on your blackberry? Feeling guilty?

You’re not alone. There seems to be a Time Crisis in our nation with our families. I don’t need to throw out statistics to validate exactly how everyone feels about the subject.

Dustin is also very passionate about this subject, as you all have helped him identify that your biggest concern regarding a happy and fulfilling marriage is TIME!!  [PS – If you haven’t signed up for his newsletter, you should check it out.  When you sign up, he sends a great 7 day course called Marriage Mojo: 7 Simple Steps to Romance for Insanely Busy Couples and it’s an Awesome resource…plus it’s free!]

Our marriages and families are drowning in the pool of overwhelm and can’t seem to come up for air!

There are two somewhat disturbing trends in America, few vacation days coupled with an increase in overall productivity of American workers (an average of 4% increase in efficiency each year). So it would make sense that the employment demands, especially in two-income houses are creating more stress and more feelings of overwork and overwhelm.

Your Life Like a Car

One way to approach this problem is to use an analogy. Imagine the time in your life is like a car; your energy is the gasoline. Twenty five years ago, we would drive the car down the road at a brisk pace. We would use up some fuel during the day, while driving, and by the evening, there would be plenty of fuel left for us to take our spouse and children along for a drive around the country-side.

Now imagine your life like a car today. You have a fancy high tech car; it requires expensive high octane gasoline. While you are at work, you drive the car about 150 mph, through an elaborate road course, and you almost run it out of gas by the end of the day!

When you get home, there’s no point in taking the family for a ride in the country-side, the car will run out of gas, its useless. This is what our life feels like now. We then argue that the car is flawed, we must not have enough “Car”.

This is the point about arguing that we don’t have enough “Time”. We argue with ourselves that we must not have enough time, rather than pay attention to how we spend our energy in the time.

How do we treat our time? Do we expend all of our energy and awareness of time at work, only to come home totally on empty? Do we give ourselves space to fuel up before we get home?

Since our days are more intense than they used to be 25 years ago, energy management becomes even more important to renewing your body and mind so that you can get the most out of your time, or just feel like you have time!

Check Your Mental Status

Having been a paramedic for over 10 years, I love using medical analogies. A paramedic’s initial assessment of a patient when they first reach the patient’s side is to check their Airway, Breathing and Circulation (ABC’s). If that’s all intact,  we then check a patient’s mental status, or how aware and alert a patient is. I believe that to get the most effective use of your time, you need to check your own mental status, or awareness.

How present and alert are you right now? As you are reading this post, is your mind wandering off into other territories, or are you fully present? Do you often “zone out” in front of the TV or when people are talking to you?

When I was running my business, I used to be accused of not listening to my husband when he would talk to me; my mind was elsewhere. My face was focused on my laptop or on my blackberry. My mental status would have scored very low back then!!

Are You Living in the Past or Future?

When some coaches and teachers used to tell me to live in the “present”, my eyes would glaze over. The concept meant nothing to me.

I finally got it when someone explained to me that I use up my Present Time Resource if I am worrying about what I did in the past [guilt] or worry about what is going to happen in the future [anxiety]. With the increasing levels of anxiety and sleep medications being dispensed, it is clear that we are spending time living in the past and future instead of being present.

If you are worried about work tomorrow, are you able to be present with your spouse? It took me a lot of practice to be present and the benefits have been well worth the practice.

Be Okay With Doing Nothing

As the weekend rolls around, you may think, finally I have free time!! Quick, let’s fill up our weekend with fun things, parties, sports, activities so that we may feel like we spend some quality time together!

More of the time gets spent doing instead of being. There is a magic that happens when you can just be with your spouse with no planned activity, no schedules, no expectations. It is somewhat like a family group meditation. This means that you may need to practice saying, NO, and being okay with that response. Besides, studies show that rest and relaxation are necessary for your own well-being!

Our Time Emergency will not be solved by trying to do more, or be more efficient (get the faster computer, get more software, or hire more help). I feel that people are fairly productive, organized and manage their tasks effectively; I may only be able to save a couple of hours a week by interjecting some traditional time management concepts into their lifestyle.

My experience with coaching individuals around time overwhelm is that I have found it is not the tasks that stress them. It’s the feeling of not having control of the intangible aspects of their time. So rather, I teach them about their Energy, Awareness, and ability to be Present . These three concepts are what most effect the way that they view Time and reduce the feelings of overload.

While we can’t make more time, we can decide how we show up every day and react to the Time in our day.

What are some ways that you avert a Family Time Emergency in your household?

Makenzie Kelly is a Time Rescue ™ Expert and a Fearless Freedom Seeker!! She’s been known to do crazy things such as retire from a Multi-Million dollar business and give up a 6-figure salary to have more Time and Freedom! She blogs about Ultimate Lifestyle Design at the Freedom Venture Project ™ Blog.


About the author 


Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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  1. Awesome article MaKenzie! I’m feelin it…I work my 9-5 job, but, like most of you, have begun blogging and freelancing in my spare time to the point where I feel like I’m always working. Thankfully, my husband and I enjoy spending time together every day, even if (like tonight) we’re working side-by-side on our laptops! I love our times together, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world:) Thanks for helping me put it all in perspective…(if my writing is a bit incoherent it’s because I’ve been staring at a computer screen far too long today!)
    .-= Esther @Purpose Passion Purity´s last blog ..The Good Wife’s Guide =-.

    1. I admire your hard work, Esther, and I can totally relate of course. My wife and I are having some great discussions right now about whether we should make some pretty substantial changes in our work/family balance.

      I wonder if Makenzie’s great article subconsciously helped us get to that point! 🙂

  2. Makenzie – This is such a great post, so many important points. It took me awhile to begin to accept that doing nothing is actually an art, and often vital to my mental health.

    Dustin – Thanks for sharing this with us.
    .-= Shannon O | Confessions of a Loving Wife´s last blog ..A Sunday Morning Laugh: After the honeymoon is over – the better marriage blanket =-.

    1. It’s certainly my pleasure, Shannon! I really, really love this post and it hit home with me in a big way.

  3. I think I will weigh in on this one.

    I am married to Joanne, and we have 6 gorgeous children, 5 girls and 1 boy. They are Good children.

    The main reason (we think) we have a Good relationship with our children is we are there for them.

    I know that sounds a bit airy fairy, but in reality what it means is we have lived on 1 income for the last 13 years…sure we only have 1 TV, the house is not paid off, etc etc. But we can get more TVs later, and my wife has returned to work as a Nurse so we will eventually own more of the house.

    Maybe we need to put things in perspective. The thing (or commodity) that we cannot give our children and our spouses in 10 years time is Retrospective Time (I hope that makes sense).

    The time we spend as a family includes Saturday sport (lots of it), regular trips away to my wife’s father’s beef cattle farm in northern NSW, Australia (God’s Country), weekends away with other families, our annual beach holidays at Christmas etc etc. We do lots more of other daily activity type things but they (in total) don’t have to cost a lot. I guess we just don’t do the expensive things like Overseas Trips etc.

    Makenzie, good article! But I disagree with you that things are more intense now than 25 years ago. I just think we (collectively) just want more than we need.

    1. Excellent comment, Gerry! I really appreciate your perspective, and I think you are right on with your last statement. For the most part, many of us (myself included) are probably overstretched primarily because we’ve bought into the modern mindset that says we SHOULD be!

  4. I agree…proper time management is important when looking for balance in your life. It’s a bit hard to focus on family and leisure if you don’t manage your work time properly so that you get maximum gain for least time output.

    It boils down to creating daily priorities for yourself, both personal and work related… then get the work priorities out of the way early and devote your attention 100% to your personal ones when you’re done.

    1. You always have such great insight to add, Cori! I really love your approach to getting the work priorities done early each day so you can truly be present for your personal relationships the rest of the day.

      1. Aww..thanks hun. Now if only I could always practice what I preach, I’d be golden! Alas, I’m a work in progress just like everyone else I suppose. 🙂

        But yes, work priorities early in the day are almost mandatory, because once my kiddies are home from school, that’s just about “All She Wrote”. LOL

        Keep up the great work Dustin, I really love your blog and the value and viewpoint you give on relationships. Have a lovely night!

        Warm regards,

  5. Hey Makenzie,

    Thanks for hitting on one of the biggest, glaring obstacles of our generation. Time management has become this corporate buzz word, rather than a mantra for living life in the most effective way possible.

    When I was still working in banking, I communted at least two hours a day and found I’d get home without much energy to really initiate communication with my wife. Our relationship had to wait until the weekends to be stimulated and to grow.

    Now that I do my own thing, I can create my own schedule a bit more. But what I’ve found is that it takes intentionality. My purpose isn’t to just work all day, every day, for forty years, retire, then die. I have to relate with people. And the most important people to relate with are my immediate family.

    I wonder if we aren’t on the edge of a cultural shift where people begin to step down the corporate ladder and engaged their families more.

    Thanks for your post – definitely needed in these crazy times!
    .-= Derek Sisterhen | Past Due Radio´s last blog ..104 Past Due – Don’t Waste Your Marriage =-.

    1. Derek, you rock. Really, you should be blogging about this stuff!

      I can totally relate to your lifestyle decisions. I used to have a horrid commute and way too few hours at home as a result. I have steered my career to a position where I generally have a lot of autonomy, and we are always working to get further in that direction. We’re considering some big changes right now on that front, actually…

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