Black phone outside
I am still trying to figure out what to do with
regards to visiting others (friends, people who need encouragement) and
also talking on the phone ( to just say hi, for example talking to a
friend who I haven't seen in a while, and to encourage others, and to
make necessary other calls…although its mainly the first two that
tend to turn into longer calls than anticipated).


I don't want to be a slave to my routine, but one phone call to a
friend can really throw off my day (not to mention the discipline
problems it brings up in my daughter that then also take time to deal
with). I can say in theory that I will only be 20 minutes or whatever
but it really can easily turn into an hour (or more). Especially if the
other person really seems lonely. I love to talk on the phone- but I
know I need to limit that time…

Any thoughts on how you manage this would be appreciated. Its not
just friends either- its also family- all of our family are long
distance and therefore we do a lot of visiting by phone. So are several
good friends who live in other places. Its hard to keep a balance.      

This is also a tough issue for me, Nola, and I completely understand where you are coming from!

I will confess… the toughest part of this for me is my tendency to view phone calls as interruptions to my schedule. It's not that I don't love talking to others. It's just that it's hard enough to get everything done in the day, without taking up a lot of time chatting. One thing that I need to learn is that sometimes, interruptions are just part of life, and they are an opportunity for me to bless someone, or build a relationship, and ultimately they sometimes need to take precedence over my "to-do" list.

That said, here are a few things that I have done as I attempt to work around this issue in our home:

1) We use caller display-
Not only does this help me avoid sales calls (a definite plus!), but depending on where I am at in my day, it gives me the ability to choose to answer a call that I think might be important, or to allow the machine to get it so that I can get back to it at a better time.

2) Use my answering machine to my advantage-
If there is a number I'm unsure of, or I'm not sure why somebody is calling (and it's not a good time for me to pick up the phone), I let the machine get it and I stay nearby and listen to the message. That way, I can go over and pick up the phone if I decide I want to answer, or decide to just leave it be.

3) Make good use of email- If there is something quick that needs to be communicated, and I don't want to get into a long phone conversation, I will just send an email (unless it's urgent and I don't think they'll get the email in time). This keeps it quick and simple.

4) Plan my longer calls around my tasks- If I know that I want to talk to my Mom on the phone for half an hour, I will try to find something that I can do mindlessly while talking, such as folding or putting away laundry, or tidying up, or sweeping. That way I can stay productive, and still keep my attention on my phone call. It's also nice to plan phone calls for naps or quiet times.

5) Deal with discipline by hanging up-
This was such a hard thing for me to learn to do, and sometimes I still do not do it as I should. I am trying to be consistent about simply ending my phone call by politely saying that I need to see to my children, and I will talk to them later. Much as I may want to have uninterrupted adult conversation, my children are my priority and I don't want to set the precedent that they can disobey while Mommy is on the phone.

6) Preface a short phone call– By stating right away that I only have a minute to talk, it frees me up to graciously end a phone call after the reason for the call has been accomplished. I used to feel rude doing this, but now I realize it's just part of being a busy mom sometimes.

7) Limit my visits to once a week- This is a bit of a different issue, but I'll briefly address it. I don't have a hard and fast rule, but I try to accept invitations (or offer invitations) to hang out with others only about once a week. Sometimes we don't do any visiting in a week, other weeks we might have two days (rare, but it happens), but overall it balances out. This gives me the flexibility to plan some visits, but to also keep it minimal enough that I can be home most of the time. If I am offered too many invitations, I simply say that I have too much going on that week, but I would love to spend time together another week.

All that said, I don't do this perfectly. Though this generally works for me and I have learned to guard our family time and my mothering and homemaking responsibilities better than I used to, I have swung somewhat in the opposite direction. Now I struggle more with keeping up with phone calls, messages and emails, and responding to my friends and family in a timely manner (this is what I need to focus on next!). It can certainly be a bit of a balancing act!

I would love to hear some solutions from others! How do you balance time on the phone, especially with friends and family that are far away, or that are lonely or needing encouragment, with keeping a schedule and staying focused on your children?