Linking Time with Temper

When are you most likely to snap at your kids or be curt with your co-worker? Is there any consistent factor that makes your volume level go up or causes you to clip  your words?


Through the years I've realized the “consistent factor” when I'm snippy with others is more about the lack of something than the presence of something.


This is always most evident on Sundays when I'm rushing out for church. To make everything work, the Sunday morning routine has to be executed without a hitch.  Normally that's not a problem, but spring fever seems to equal everyone moving at a snail's pace these days.

In fact, recently I snapped when we were leaving and my daughter couldn't find her shoes!   I instantly turned into a ball of stress trying to find flip flops, giving a lecture life lesson (explaining that THIS is why we put everything back into its proper home!!), and hustling everyone out the door.

When I take a breath, I realize a frenzied pace always impacts my tone with others.

When the clock is pushing me, I push others, and my approach toward them suffers. Rather than experience the delight of the morning (and my kids' hilarious conversation about which Avenger is the best - Iron Man, duh!), I ran out of the house tied up in a knot.

Time felt like an enemy to my attitude.

The principle holds at work and home.  Increased activity plus limited time equals high opportunity for stress. When project deadlines loom,when the pressure is on, I'm more likely to experience tension in my relationships.  When I’m in time crunches, I feel myself skimp on words, withhold trust, and listen poorly.

What starts as a non-personal "clock" issue ends with very personal damage.

Bottom line, the lack of time means I'm less likely to control my temper.

In a similar way, when our family over-schedules our days, we feel the same stress.  When the to-do lists increase, we find we are not using the right (or enough) words.  We misunderstand each other more often and disagreements come faster.

This is why committing to any activity for any person in our house HAS to be considered in the context of the entire family economy.  The sum of kids’ sports, practices, birthday parties, play dates, school, and travel can fill our schedule in a heartbeat.  I’m not saying those things are bad.  Still, the more our family does, and the more the pace quickens, the greater the risk for relational stress.

That's reason enough to say "no" more often and to be cutthroat about where we spend our family time.

Imagine if your family reduced its activity level by 25% and reclaimed that time for rest, unstructured “hang time,” and conversation.

Would the health of your family improve? Would the tone of your words change? Would the long-term effect of that extra time benefit your relationships more than the activity you gave up?

So what do you give up?  How do you decide on trade-offs?