Divide And Conquer

11-10 Sedona

Divide and conquer… originally, used to describe a military technique that maintains control by dividing the masses. If they don’t band together, they are easier to manage. They don’t get together and rally against the ruler.

In my life, divide and conquer has come to mean dividing our resources so our to-do list doesn’t control us. Most recently, this thought came to mind when I over-booked our calendar. On the same day, we now have a Boy Scout camp out and putting up Christmas decorations at church. We also had a conflict with my older son’s band activities and our younger son’s doctor’s appointment. Divide and conquer.

I got to thinking – while our ‘to-do’ list is whimpering from our efforts, dividing our resources to manage it could have the opposite effect by bringing us to our knees.  The more things we don’t do as a family, the more memories we miss making as a family. Years from now, it means fewer things we can talk about that we all remember- because we experienced them together. Divide and conquer needs to be our last resort, not our go-to strategy.

This time of year feels like life has been put on “fast forward.” I guess my thoughts needed to go down this path as a reminder that less is more. Even as I write this, I feel a little guilty because I’ve declined to be a leader in Cub Scouts this year. Not because I don’t think it’s valuable, but because I have so little time- and I feel like I’ve over-spent it.

Unlike money, I can’t make more time.


I appreciate you reading my random thoughts on life. I hope you have a peaceful Monday!

46 thoughts on “Divide And Conquer

  1. Ryan November 10, 2014 / 6:43 AM

    Brilliant! I agree 100%.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 7:55 PM

      Thanks, Ryan! May we all have some breathing room in our busy schedules 🙂

  2. Timothy Price November 10, 2014 / 7:16 AM

    Excellent! So often the case that events and activities happen at the same time making it hard to fit everything in.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 7:56 PM

      True. Sometimes, division can’t be avoided… but I need to mindful that it doesn’t become the norm!

  3. nrhatch November 10, 2014 / 7:23 AM

    We cannot do everything. When we try, we become fragmented, splintered, overextended, stressed out, etc., . . . and we don’t enjoy any of it.

    Sometimes, as you note, LESS is MORE. Especially for making memories.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 7:58 PM

      Thank goodness sports have ended or we’d be completely frazzled! Band and scouts are in full gear now. Sigh! I’ll just keep reminding myself… less is more, Nancy 🙂

  4. suzicate November 10, 2014 / 7:36 AM

    I remember the days of overwhelm…the best thing I ever learned to do was say no. Looks like you’re on the right track to putting that overwhelmed feeling to rest. There’s nothing worse than needing to be several places at once and having to prioritize knowing someone somewhere is going to be upset with your decision.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 8:04 PM

      I did feel bad saying no to being a leader in scouts… I’ll be happy to buy scout awards when I’m in Phoenix, I’ll be happy to plan some of the den meetings, I don’t mind helping out- I just don’t want to be on the committee and deal with he meetings that go with it. I’m a little selfish, too, because I just want to hold onto the little bit of writing time I have left.

      • Leigh W. Smith November 13, 2014 / 9:31 AM

        Writing time is not selfish at all, Janna! 🙂 I’ve got to let go of that idea, too.

        • jannatwrites November 14, 2014 / 10:47 PM

          It feels like it because it’s just for me 🙂

  5. Kathy Combs (@KathyCombs16) November 10, 2014 / 7:41 AM

    As my kids have gotten older I find that I have way less time for everything. This school year in particular has been nuts. My calendar is full with usually the only day free being Friday. What with 4H, which both kids do…to my son’s running club, to my daughter’s math team, running concessions for sporting events, choir events, National Junior Honor Society business, and Leadership team things, it often feels a bit overwhelming. Time seems to fly…but we all feel strung out and a little exhausted. I am keeping up, but writing less it seems what with the normal day to day needing handled too and quality time spent together. Memories are being made…but they are just fleeting and different.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 8:09 PM

      You are a busy lady, Kathy! We try to limit the activities, but it seems like they all flare up at the same time. I need to get better about entering EVERYTHING into my cell phone. I keep having things come up where the date sticks out but I can’t remember why… until I figure out I’ve double-booked… again. We will have to divide again when it comes to a theater trip with my older son… it is on a Thursday night and they don’t get home until midnight. No way I’m dragging my younger son to that- he’d get four hours of sleep.

  6. Debbie November 10, 2014 / 8:31 AM

    It WILL get easier, Janna. Honest, it will. It’s just that, when your kids are young, you’re bustling from this activity to that, barely leaving time to breathe! Domer’s younger years are kind of a blur because we did the same thing. Congrats on making the decision to drop something. It’s never easy to say “No,” but for our own sanity, sometimes we must. And this time of year is perhaps the most challenging, as time seems to fly by no matter how hard we try to hang on!

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 8:15 PM

      I hope so, Debbie! They tried to talk to me about a committee position again, but I stuck to my ‘no.’ You know, we’ve made a conscious effort to limit activities to one sport per kid at a time plus cub/boy scouts. But then, band came into it, and I think music is important. Things will REALLY get interesting when my younger son gets to band age, haha 🙂

  7. Sean November 10, 2014 / 9:20 AM

    Nice picture. I’ve always enjoyed the different layers shown. Kind of like our lives. Each piece having a different layer and it isn’t until we step back and look that we see how beautiful it is. Although our calendars are full, it will be the little things remembered in the long run. Make the most of those little things and don’t dwell on what you can’t do or find time for. Making memories is what matters. Take care

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 8:20 PM

      Thanks, Sean! When we polish off some of the ‘busyness’, life is beautiful. I will try not to dwell on the “nos” and wholly commit to the “yeses”.

  8. momtheobscure November 10, 2014 / 10:46 AM

    You are right less is more. I only have one and I’m a SAHM trying to find time to write and I never seem to have enough time. Just this weekend I was going over if we could put my son in wrestling, which he really wants to do, when he has already signed up for basketball. My husband said a definite no. And he is right. I am the one who tends to think we can do everything and my husband and son complain. I hope you have a great Monday too! (won’t say perfect, because I don’t believe in absolutes).

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 8:23 PM

      It’s hard to be the bad guy and say “no”, but when things get so rushed, they cease to be fun- for everyone involved. The days when the kids’ activities overlap are the ones where things get fun… especially since my husband’s work schedule is so inconsistent and he often works in the evening. Thankfully, we have some wonderful neighbors that have helped in a pinch. (I hate to burden others, but there were a couple of times I had to ask!) Good luck to juggling your schedule and I hope you have some luck with finding time to write, Momtheobscure.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 8:24 PM

      I’ve got a selfish grip on my last bit of writing time, Susan!

  9. newwhitebear November 10, 2014 / 1:52 PM

    Great! Yours is a very good strategy.
    I agree on everything.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 8:25 PM

      Thanks, Newwhitebear. I think sometimes “nothing” planned means so much more than all the activities penciled in on our calendar.

  10. joannesisco November 10, 2014 / 1:53 PM

    ooo – the timing on this post is prophetic. It’s only Monday and I’m already having one of those weeks when I look at the calendar and wonder what I was thinking when I thought I could manage all those activities.

    … and you’re right. It’s only going to get worse as the year winds down. Why do we do this to ourselves?!!!

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 8:28 PM

      Haha, I have weeks like that, Joanne! I recently discovered that the kids’ dentist appointment that I’d made six months ago happened to be the same day my older son will be out of town on a band trip and my younger son’s fundraiser cookie dough needs picked up. I tried to reschedule but they had nothing til January. Ugh.

      Why do we do this to ourselves? We’re quite obviously masochists 🙂

      • joannesisco November 12, 2014 / 6:40 AM

        I don’t think it’s our fault! I blame the universe for lopping obstacles at us occasionally to keep us on our toes 😉

        • jannatwrites November 14, 2014 / 10:31 PM

          And the universe does manage to keep us on our toes, Joanne!

  11. philosophermouseofthehedge November 10, 2014 / 3:02 PM

    You’ve stated an astute observation. “No” is a perfectly acceptable answer. Those kids grow up fast. Better to march along as a group when you can.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 8:29 PM

      True, Phil. I swear there are times I look at my older son and wonder how twelve years could’ve possibly flown by so quickly!

  12. Carol Ann Hoel November 10, 2014 / 4:22 PM

    I like your last statement: Unlike money, I can’t make more time. How true that is, Janna. You are wise to protect your time together as a family. Blessings to you…

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 8:31 PM

      Thanks, Carol Ann! We’re trying to instill peace, but insanity constantly threatens to take over 🙂

  13. Eleni November 10, 2014 / 7:48 PM

    I wouldn’t feel guilty about declining to be leader in cub scouts. Family is so precious and you’ll never get this time back once it’s gone.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 8:33 PM

      Thanks, Eleni! I tried to explain that I don’t mind helping out, so I hope no one is ruffled about it.

  14. agjorgenson November 10, 2014 / 8:33 PM

    Well put: the less time together, the few the memories. The years fly by and there is no reclaiming them. You are wise to be judicious with your time. You will not regret it.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 8:34 PM

      Thanks, Allen! I’ve had way too many double-bookings lately, so I think I needed to sit down and write this. I do hope I will look back on this and feel certain that I did indeed choose well 🙂

  15. Imelda November 10, 2014 / 10:20 PM

    I appreciate your thoughts about ‘divide and conquer’ not being a good strategy for a family in the long run. Coming from a family that never did things together, I find that we do not have much common happy ground to talk about. I used to worry that all our family activities add up to the expenses – but then, the money we might save now will never ever compensate us for lost bonding opportunities and happy memories.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 8:37 PM

      It’s funny, but my family didn’t really do stuff together, either. I was a shy, non-athletic kid, so I really didn’t have activities to go to until I was in high school band – and then, my older brother had the pleasure of shuttling me to most things 🙂 I do think it’s important for each kid to have something they are interested in. With four kids though, you are going to be very busy, Imelda! I think your kids will look back fondly on their childhood.

  16. Imelda November 10, 2014 / 10:22 PM

    Ooopps, I guess my sentences were not clear. Just to be so – the part where I said I am worrying about expenses because of family activities refers to my own little family now. 🙂

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 8:37 PM

      Got it, Imelda! The activities can require some extra budgeting, depending on what the interests are!

  17. diannegray November 11, 2014 / 4:00 AM

    Sometimes I look back at those times and wonder how I did it all. Things get so much easier and slower later in life 😉

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 8:38 PM

      Man, I sure hope so, Dianne… because right now, I’m just dog tired!

  18. chlost November 11, 2014 / 7:40 AM

    The skill of saying “No” is often necessary for pure survival. Wuth so much on your plate, you can’t do all of the overbooked activities justice. Congratulations on maintaining your family priorities.

    • jannatwrites November 11, 2014 / 8:40 PM

      Thanks, Chlost! I don’t like the pressure of a full schedule, so I will continue to strive to spread things out. First step is to be better about putting things on my cell phone calendar so I can check when I go to schedule something new 🙂

  19. Leigh W. Smith November 13, 2014 / 9:29 AM

    Know what you mean, Janna. I hate to say this, but I feel weighed down by our possessions in the same way (no pun intended) that your boggling to-do list does (as well as our family’s responsibilities, like Scouts, camps, volunteering, work, school, hobbies, exercise, etc.–and I know it will only worsen as the kids get older–argh!). I feel like, I guess, I’m missing the forest for the trees sometimes. Anyway, so well stated! Love this, and will post it somewhere: “Divide and conquer needs to be our last resort, not our go-to strategy.” Perhaps you can make a desk calendar of Janna’s Witticisms/Memes!

    • jannatwrites November 14, 2014 / 10:46 PM

      Yes, everything does get heavy sometimes. I struggle with saying no, mostly because of guilt. The scouts are persistent, but I stuck with no… still working on the guilt part, though 🙂 We have to preserve some sense of peace and sanity, though.

      Your desk calendar comment cracked me up – thanks, Leigh!

  20. pattisj November 14, 2014 / 3:20 PM

    I’m sure you have lots of memories of the time you did lead Scouts. Now, others have the opportunity to step out and do the same.

    • jannatwrites November 14, 2014 / 11:07 PM

      Well, I got out of being leader, but now they want me to Cub Master (which is worse!) I’m still sticking to no, Patti.

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