Triage

Dan taught me a very handy word several years ago, back in medical school, during his ER rotation: “triage.” He explained how the ER docs needed to triage all the patient’s problems to handle the most urgent first, then work down the line to the others. It’s partly about priorities, partly about doing the most beneficial work with your limited time. And that concept has come in very handy with having a baby. But it’s also showed me where my priorities lie.

When Lizzy wasn’t sleeping and was screaming her head off most of the time, colic style, I learned that the rare moments when she would fall asleep, I needed to take advantage of the baby free time to do stuff. By stuff, I’m not talking about reading a book for fun or blogging. No, it was more about what food I could stuff in my mouth to give me the most calories the fastest (yes, you can live off nuts and seeds, or so I learned), a quick trip to the bathroom, and maybe, if I was super lucky, a chance to change my spit up covered clothes.

So, for the first few months of her life, that’s about all I could get done. But, she slowly started napping, and I could add different things to the triage list. But I never knew when she was going to wake up, so I always had to start with the most important thing, which was always getting her next bottle ready to go. Then, I worked down the line to food, bathroom, etc.

Now that I have a child who naps regularly and fairly predictably, my triage isn’t so frantic. I have time to examine what makes the triage cut and what doesn’t, and I’m realizing that God wasn’t making the cut.

I’m not saying that I should have put devotions in front of getting Lizzy’s food ready, but prayer time wasn’t even figuring into the equation. I would fit it in whenever I remembered it, but mostly, I prayed when I was at the end of my rope, begging for help…which happened quite frequently. But of course, when I need it most, it was the thing that got literally put at the bottom of the triage list.

God was giving me some gentle nudges a couple weeks ago to get my act together, and to make sure he gets put at the top of my triage list. So, sleep got a little bump down, and I get up before Lizzy wakes up to eat some breakfast and read the Bible. It’s still behind getting Lizzy’s food and medicine ready, but that’s probably not going to change for awhile.

I’m still no expert in how to put God first when one has a demanding baby/schedule, but at least now, I’m making an effort. And no, I can’t say that my quiet time is fabulous, but it’s something, and I’m conscientiously taking the time to connect with him. If anything, it’s at least symbolic of my priorities improving.

So what about you? If you have so many minutes of each day, how do you prioritize them? If you only had a few minutes to yourself each day, how would you use them?

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I guess it comes down to what your definition of honoring God is…

    1 Corinthians 10:31 : “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”

    Why can’t it be that taking care of God’s gift of a child as a way to honor Him. Yes, time spent in church and studying His word are important, but all aspects of our life should be to honor God. I think of no better way to honor God than to (survive) raise a child in a Christian home.

  2. Late in his life, Charles Spurgeon stated that if he could relive his life, he would have rearranged his priorities. He would have devoted two-thirds of his time to prayer and one-third of his time to Bible study instead of his heavy emphasis on studying. I agree. So, if I have free time, I spend it in prayer.

    But also, thank God for the different seasons in our lives when we have to totally depend on God’s grace rather than our efforts.

  3. i tend to have a habit of getting tiny bits done of lots of things instead of just attacking one larger thing… figuring eventually it’ll get them all done. instead it usually eventually gets enough of them done to function, but enough left undone to drive me nuts with all the things still pending on my to-do pile.

  4. Been thinking about you after reading your last post. You have been through so much! I’m so glad that things are looking up and thankful God brought your whole family through the storm.

    Also, I have a feeling some future new moms will cross your path and be encouraged and strengthened for their daily work by your story.

  5. A pastor’s wife named Anne Ortlund wrote The Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman years ago, and while the modern reader might not enjoy her gung ho take on home making wife mother career, I did find that she settle the prayer and devotional time problem for me.
    When she realized that she wasn’t able to have the depth of time with God that she craved, she started setting her alarm clock for 4 am, and would have her time with God then. She asked God to meet her and allow her to fall right back to sleep after she went back to bed.
    Since I didn’t want to get up that early in the morning, I decided that I would make a point of using small places in the day for writing in my prayer journal, reading a brief devotional and listening to Christian radio or music. IF I couldn’t manage that then I would make myself get up at 4 am. With the threat of early morning alarm setting hanging over my head, I managed to have my time with God.
    Slightly off topic but also important in priority: My mom had a friend with three closely spaced children. She sadly told her doctor that she was so tired that she wasn’t being much a wife to her husband in the evenings, if you get my drift.
    He wrote her a prescription to go down for a nap when her kids went down for their nap. She found that she would sleep, then after the nap she was able to do a better job of tackling the “to do” lists and was more awake for time with her husband in the evenings too.
    Something to think about when prioritizing your time.


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