FamilyLife Today® Podcast

(More) Time Management for Moms: Crystal Paine

with Crystal Paine | August 22, 2023
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Need time management just for moms? Crystal Paine of The Time-Saving Mom explains an easy-to-implement four-step system to organize and simplify your life.

We need to know what we’re prioritizing in our life, because we are all prioritizing something, even if we haven’t determined, “These are my priorities,” our life indicates what we’re prioritizing. But is it in line with what we want to be prioritizing?  -- Crystal Paine

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Need time management just for moms? Crystal Paine of The Time-Saving Mom explains an easy-to-implement four-step system to organize and simplify your life.

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(More) Time Management for Moms: Crystal Paine

With Crystal Paine
August 22, 2023
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Crystal: We need to know what we’re prioritizing in our life, because we are all prioritizing something, even if we haven’t determined, “These are my priorities,” our life indicates what we’re prioritizing. But is it in line with what we want to be prioritizing?

Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at or on the FamilyLife® app.

Dave: This is FamilyLife Today!

Dave: Question for you: Do you think I’m good with my time; that I manage my time well?

Ann: [Pause]

Dave: Okay, you paused way too long! [Laughter]

Ann: No, I think you do actually.

Dave: I’m not looking for a positive response! You do?!

Ann: Yes. I think that we don’t live on the same internal time clock. Mine’s always going really, really fast, and yours is slower, which is really good for me; frustrating, but good for me. But yes, I think you manage your time well. Do you think I do?

Dave: I think you manage it a lot better than I do!

Ann: Oh, I don’t think so.

Dave: You get a lot more done in a day than I do, and I honestly think I waste a lot of time.

Ann: But sometimes, my attitude can be determined by how much I get done in the day, and that’s not always a good thing.

Dave: Well, we all need help with time, and we’ve got “the time-saving mom,” Crystal Paine, in the studio with us today. I call you “the time-saving mom,” but you’re really known as “the money-saving mom.”

Ann: “Money-saving mom!”

Dave: Welcome back!

Crystal: Thank you so much for having me. You know, you were talking about not being good with your time, and I just witnessed you—

Dave: I want to hear what you have to say!

Crystal: She was saying, you know, [she’s] the one saying, “We’ve got to kind of get along. We’ve got to get to the interview,” and you were back there just talking with people.

Ann: Ahh!

Crystal: So, I just want to encourage you that talking with people is using your time intentionally.

Ann: That’s really sweet! I was like, “Come on! Let’s go! We need to get things done!”

Crystal: But we need both; we need both people! You know, we help balance each other out. But I was just thinking how you [Ann] were thinking of me and my time, which is also thinking about people and the fact that I have a flight, but you [Dave] were just focused on [people]. So, you guys make a great team!

Dave: Well—

Ann: [Laughing] Why are we talking about all of this?

Dave: We need help, and I know our listeners are feeling the same thing, managing our time. So, you’ve written a book. You’ve been thinking about this, I’m guessing, for decades, right?

Crystal: Yes, I actually open the book talking about my high school graduation speech. I was not the valedictorian; I was homeschooled. Let’s clarify that! So, I graduated at the top and the bottom of my class, but I got to give a speech. My whole speech was, “Time is short,” because that’s something that I’ve been really passionate about for years and years.

Ann: Let’s talk about what the book is called. Your book is called The Time-Saving Mom. And the subtitle is How to Juggle a Lot, Enjoy Your Life, and Accomplish What Matters Most. Every mom hearing that wants that.

Dave: I mean, if we’re going to be wise about our time, here we go! We started yesterday with, I thought, a great discussion. I’m so inspired, even now, to go home and be more thankful. You talked about this four-step process, which I guess is your way to say, “Okay, you want to redeem your time? [If] you want to do what God says here in Ephesians 5, it looks like this.”

So, just remind us of the first “P,” and then let’s go further down the list.

Crystal: Yes. It’s to start your day with a posture of prayer. So, prayer is step number one. The second is prioritize, and it really goes along with that, because we need to know what we’re prioritizing in our lives. because we are all prioritizing something. Even if we haven’t determined, “These are my priorities,” our life indicates what we’re prioritizing. Is it in line with what we want to be prioritizing?

So, I talk about my “six times two” priority system in the book, and this is where I have six priority areas that I wrap my time and my life and my energy around. I don’t prioritize them every day, because if I were to try to prioritize them every day, I would feel completely overwhelmed. There’s no way humanly possible I can do them all every day and do a good job of it!

So, instead, I pick two per day, and then I rotate them, so over the course of a week, I have spent intentional time in each priority area at least twice. This just frees me up to really be fully present where I am, but also know that I’m going to hit those other areas at other parts of the week.

Dave: That makes way too much sense. [Laughter]

Ann: And for those who haven’t been listening, or who didn’t listen yesterday, let’s just reiterate, Crystal, that you have six kids; you have teenagers and toddlers.

Dave: A special needs child.

Ann: So, you could be thinking, “Well, she must have all kinds of time!” [Laughter] “She must have all kinds of ways to prioritize her time,” but you are living a fast-paced life with a lot going on.

Crystal: Yes.

Ann: So, give us an example of what this looks like, to prioritize.

Crystal: So, for instance, your marriage. It would be amazing for you to be able to have a date night every single day, but that’s not realistic for most families. For my husband and I, you know, we have teenagers who oftentimes have things in the evening; but twice a week, we can have intentional time. So, maybe that’s an hour of us talking or that’s an at-home date night, or that’s us going out with another couple.

Ann: Some people are like, “Twice a week!? With six kids?!”


Crystal: You know, I think a lot of times, if you determine that something is important to you, then you’re going to make time for it. So, our marriage is really important to us, and we know that someday we’re not going to have these kids in our home. So, what’s going to be the glue that binds us? If we don’t intentionally prioritize our marriage right now, we’re going to pay for it soon!

So, for us, that is saying “twice a week,” having intentional time together. Same thing for our kids. You know, every day, obviously, they are a priority; but twice a week, maybe it’s a family movie night, or maybe it’s that I’m going to take one child on a one-on-one date. But twice a week, I’m going to do something very intentional with my kids. Then, the business—everyday I’m working, but—twice a week, I’m going to spend intentional time.

Dave: So, what are the six?

Ann: The six—oh, yes.

Dave: You mentioned them all, but I know there’s a mom or dad saying, “I’ve got to write these down.”

Crystal: Yes!

Dave: You just hit them all, but just tell us.

Crystal: Okay. So, in the book, I go into detail of what these are, and then how to decide what your priorities are. It is my health, which includes spiritual, emotional, and physical health; then my marriage; the business; our home; friendships; and the kids. And the kids aren’t last, that’s just how I said it. [Laughter]

Ann: So, as a listener, I’m thinking, “Okay, I’m going to prioritize these areas, and this is what it’s going to look like this week.” Is that what you’re saying? This week?

Crystal: So, a lot of times, people who have read the book get a little bit hung up on, “I need to plan this all ahead of time to make sure that I hit all of these areas perfectly.”

Ann: Yes. Right.

Crystal: I do it one day at a time. So, it’s just every day deciding, “You know what? That particular child is struggling, and I have this free block in the afternoon. I’m going to take them out for a one-on-one date. And also, my laundry really needs to get caught up. So, today, those are the two areas I’m going to focus on.” So, yes, I’m going to do some other things, but those are going to be the big priority areas that, at the end of the day, I’m going to have accomplished.

And the next day, it might be, “You know, my husband and I haven’t really connected much. I’m going to make sure that tonight, after the little ones go to bed, we’re going to watch a show together. And also, I’m going to get together with a friend this morning, and we’re going to go on a walk while we’re pushing our kids in strollers.” So, you know, it’s just. every day, kind of deciding. You know, there will be some things that I’ll know ahead of time, so there are some days where it’s already predetermined; but on the other days, I just really take it a day at a time. I don’t stress out about doing it perfectly every single week, but just try to rotate the priorities so that I’m spending good, intentional time in each area twice a week.

And by the way, there are seven days in the week, and there are only six priority areas, so you’ve got a free day.

Dave: It’s called Sabbath! [Laughing]

Ann: And I like that we’ve already talked about prayer. So, even as you’ve been making that a priority—you’re praying all day long about everything—you’re praying, “Lord, what should they be today?” And God will highlight. It sounds like He highlights the things that need attention that day. I like that.

Crystal: Yes. Oftentimes, when I’m starting my day with prayer, like I talked about: just starting my day praying over my day; as I’m doing that, something will come to mind. Like a friend—he’ll just really impress [on me] a friend to reach out to and offer something, or this child who really needs to have a conversation or just to connect with, or you know, just realizing, “My soul and my body are weary! Today, I’m just going to take some time to just go on a walk and breathe or do something that’s really going to refresh me.”

In that time of prayer, oftentimes that’s when it will come to me: “This is what I need to prioritize today.”

Dave: Okay, I have two questions, and I don’t know which one to ask first. The first one, I guess, would be: What if your spouse—and this is not personal; what if your spouse—isn’t on the same page? [What if] you are intentional, and they’re not?

Ann: Do you mean like in spending time together?

Dave: Yes, I mean, you have these six, and you’re going to try to rotate, and you sort of have a plan - we’re going to get to that in a minute, but these are your priorities, and your spouse is either, maybe, totally against it, or just doesn’t go along with the plan or interrupts the plan and messes it all up? I’m guessing that happens quite a bit. Or it could be a child, but I’m thinking in your marriage, how do you navigate that?

Crystal: Well, I think first of all, what is the time during the day that you have that you are in charge of? For a lot of women—you know, if your spouse works—there’s time that you have that you get to decide how you’re going to spend it. So, whether that’s, “Okay, I’m going to focus on the kids during this time, or a friend, or the house, or my health,” doing it during the time that is your time, so that, maybe, when your husband comes home from work, if he works outside the home, you just don’t plan anything then. That’s just, “Okay, I’m going to go along with whatever, because he likes to be spontaneous.”

Deciding, “What are the time blocks that I have that I am in control of?” Then, “That’s what I’m going to focus on, versus being frustrated because I made this plan.” Most evenings, I don’t really plan out. I leave them free because, once my kids come home from school, they have plans, and they need to talk, and we just need to hang out as a family. So, for me, leaving that free—there might be a few nights a week that, you know, kids have activities or there’s something planned, but for the most part, I try to have blocks of time where it’s just free so that I’m not making my family feel like, “You’ve got to follow my plan!”

This is during my time, when I get to choose how to spend the time. I’m going to be intentional with it.

Dave: I know you’ve got a good answer for this one: interruptions. You know, the water heater breaks, the AC goes out, or you have a fender-bender, and so, the plan that you had—

Ann: One of your kids is sick or throwing up all day.

Dave: Yes, and it happens to all of us.

Ann: Those are the things women are thinking about.

Dave: A lot of times, we get derailed, and we’re done.

Ann: We give up.

Dave: I’m guessing there’s a way to get derailed, but not be done.

Crystal: So, the great thing about this system is that, if you just are focusing on one day at a time, and if you’re rotating your priorities, let’s say you do get into fender-bender, or a child is sick. That’s your opportunity to say, “You know what? We are just going to move this to the next day, and today, it’s going to be, “I’m going to focus on my child because they’re sick and they need me.” So, I love that it’s not, “Every Monday it’s this, and every Tuesday it’s this.” It’s as you go about your week.

Dave: That’s good.

Ann: That is good!

Dave: And you have that extra day to push something into, I guess.

Ann: Let’s go to the next step of the four steps.

Dave: I like it that they’re all P’s.

Ann: The system.

Dave: Yes, I’m a preacher, so I like P’s.

Ann: You do! So, we’ve hit pray; we’ve hit prioritize; and now, plan. Like planning for using this system that you’re talking about.

Crystal: Yes, so, I have what I call a “hybrid” planning system. I use Google calendar, and I use a time block “to do” list. Now, this is where it gets to some people feeling like, “This is overwhelming. I don’t want to do this.”

Dave: I felt that when I read this. I was thinking, “I don’t know if I even understand this.”

Crystal: Well, I am just sharing what works for me, but I don’t anyone to feel like I’m saying, “This is how you need to do it.” But for me, I’ve found that, the less I have in my brain, the more that I can just breathe! Google calendar, for me, is where I just brain dump everything! Anything that I can think of that I need to remember, that I need to do; any blog post I need to write; anything to do for the kids’ activities, I brain dump it all as “all day tasks” in my Google calendar. So then, it’s out of my head, and it’s in a safe place.

Then, my time block “to do” list is my brain on paper for that specific day. That is my time budget. I look at my Google calendar before I go to bed at night, look at what is on the all-day tasks for the next day, and then I just write out a time block “to do” list. And you were talking about interruptions; one thing that I do is I pad this with a lot of extra time, because interruptions are going to happen, and if I have just made my schedule so packed that there’s no space to breathe - then when that child spills that milk, or when there’s a poopy diaper, or when the teen needs to talk, I’m going to feel frustrated because, “This is my plan! You’re interrupting my plan.” But if I have padded it with extra time in every time block, plus at the end of the day—I allow usually 2-4 hours of completely free time—then, when the interruptions come, I can say, “I planned for this! I can totally stop and take care of this and be present there,” because I have time to be able to be present.

Ann: I like that.

Dave: Yes! And obviously, it leads you to the last “P”; the last part of your process, because you can’t do that in the morning. You actually do it the evening before, the prep?

Crystal: Yes. So, the prep is not only your evening routine and your morning routine, which I talked about: setting my day up for success starts the night before. Writing out my time block “to do” list and really doing things the night before—just a few things—to try to calm your body down, get yourself to sleep well, and then start your day with intention; then having a simple morning routine.

But prep is not just that! It’s also the mindset. We talked yesterday about that mindset shift; about not saying, “I can’t do that,” or “I’m not that,” and really recognizing that so much of our success happens between our ears. And what we tell ourselves, whether it’s negative or positive, that’s going to impact how we actually live and the motivation that we have.

Dave: Yes, I think at least for me, I waste—when I read your process, and especially the prep, I thought, “That’s one of my weaker areas.” I want to relax at night. I want to watch something. I want to drink a Diet Coke, and all the wrong things. [Laughter]

Ann: Those aren’t all wrong.

Dave: I think about tomorrow, but I’m thinking, “I’m going to wait until tomorrow, and get up, and jump on it.” That was just, “No, no, no!” And it doesn’t take a long time, right?

It’s pretty quick?

Crystal: A lot of times, it’s, “Could you do it early, and then go drink your Diet Coke and relax?” So, getting it done, maybe just takes you 15 minutes—the few things you can do to set yourself up for success the next day. Then, go relax! Because relaxing is also setting yourself up for success for the next day.

Dave: Yes.

Crystal: You’re going to relax a lot better when you know that you’ve set tomorrow up for success.

Ann: I mean, I’m imagining your calendar right now with six kids. You’re working, your kids are working for you as well—your older ones. There has to be so much going on just to survive the day, and to feel like, “Yes, we’re getting all this done.” There’s got to be so much. Do you ever feel like, “I’m so overwhelmed!”

Crystal: I don’t often feel overwhelmed, because I usually live fully present where I am.

Ann: So, that made me think: are you on social media? Are you scrolling a lot? I’m guessing you’re not.

Dave: Of course, she’s on social media! She’s the social media mom!

Ann: That is true!

Crystal: I am on social media a lot, because that is my job.

Ann: Yes.

Crystal: MoneySavingMom on Instagram [website:]; but I don’t scroll very often. But I do allow myself to scroll sometimes because that, for me, is relaxing. So, I have a few people who I follow, and I’m really inspired by what they do. I have times where it’s like, “Okay, I did the things on my list, and now I can just enjoy being able to sit here and scroll on my phone a little bit” - like we were talking about relaxing. That’s the thing for me.

Budgeting, when it comes to money, is not this restrictive thing. It’s freedom! Because I have predetermined how I’m going to spend my money, so then, I can enjoy how I’m going to spend money on something that someone might think, “Well, that’s extravagant!” But we budgeted for it.

The same is true with our time. If we budget it, and we spend it well, and we pre-decide how we’re going to spend our time, we then have time to invest in our marriage; time to relax; time to do fun things; time to be present and show up with a friend; time to do these things because we’ve been intentional on the front end.

Ann: As a listener is tuned in, how would they start? Maybe they haven’t had any sort of plan or any sort of strategy. They’re looking at these “P’s.” How would they get started?

Crystal: I think the biggest thing is starting with prayer; starting with recognizing that you cannot do this life well on your own.

Ann: Yes.

Crystal: So, just starting your day—this is not going to take you any extra time! While you’re brushing your teeth in the morning or getting your coffee ready, just pray over your day. Have that spirit of prayer, that posture of prayer. Instead of worrying about what’s going to come today or worrying about this or that, use that energy to pray over your day.

Ann: I like that, too.

Crystal: So, start with that.

Ann: And I would add: if you have time, even as you’re brushing your teeth, I’m listening to Scripture sometimes. Now I’m getting the Word. And sometimes I would do it in the car, too, and my kids are hearing it. That’s a good thing, too. So, I like that! Starting with prayer; starting with God.

Crystal: Yes, and really, it’s that principle of tithing; of giving the first fruits to God. One of the things, when my husband and I were in really lean years, we committed that we were going to tithe. We were going to give ten percent, even though the 90% didn’t make sense. We couldn’t figure out how it was going to pay all the bills, it always did! It always stretched.

It's the same thing with starting our day with God and saying, “I’m going to trust You that, even though I feel like I don’t have time for this, this is one of the most important things that I can do. I’m going to give the first fruits of my day to You, and I’m going to trust You for the rest of the day. And He is always so faithful!

Then, I would say, just a simple second step is, instead of trying to do a full time block “to do” list or Google calendar, just either - if you feel completely overwhelmed - sit down and brain dump everything in your head, and then pick just a few things that you’re like, “This morning, I’m going to do these three things. This afternoon, I’m going to do these three things. Tonight, I’m going to do these three things.” Just start with that. Start with just being intentional with those things and see what happens.

If you just start with prayer and a little bit of intention, change your attitude and your perspective and see life as a gift! I bet you will decide you not only have more time, but you also enjoy your life a whole lot more.

Dave: Yes! I mean, what you said a minute ago: freedom.

Ann: Yes.

Dave: That’s the word you often don’t think of when you think of a money budget. You think restriction. And even when you think of a time plan, you think everything’s going to get restricted, and it’s the opposite, right? You actually experience freedom because it’s controlled in a sense. Again, we don’t have control of our lives. God does. But the plan gives you a sense of—I mean, I’m sitting here thinking, “No wonder you’ve got a thankful heart!” It’s an overflow. It’s a fruit of some of this planning. I’m not kidding! When I got to your final chapter, I read about [how] you thought David was going to be adopted, right?

Crystal: Yes.

Dave: By somebody else, and that didn’t follow through, and it came back to you guys—I thought, “Who would say ‘yes’ to this?!” Because you know better than anybody the huge responsibility that’s going to be, not just for a few years. You called it “saying ‘yes’ to forever.” You know, part of me—you know this—is like, “You were able to say ‘yes’”—you and your husband—“because of the plan,” right?

Crystal: Yes, I mean, I feel like it’s because of being intentional with time and money. We see the years of that foundation of walking through hard things and learning to trust God and struggling; and the foundation that God has built and given us; and seeing Him be faithful. That’s what gave us courage. It’s not because we’re incredible people, but because we serve an incredible God. We’ve seen Him be so faithful, and we know that He will continue to be faithful.

So, when He called us to say “yes,” stepping into that and knowing [we] don’t know what the future holds—there are some days when it’s hard!

Dave: Yes.

Crystal: It’s hard to think of the future, but I know, and I keep going back to, just reminding myself again and again and again that God has been faithful, and He will be faithful.

Ann: And I think that’s a good reminder for every listener. God sees you. He has been faithful, and He will be faithful.

Shelby: We’re not incredible people. We serve an incredible God. Okay, let’s pause for a second!

Does that sound familiar? Does it? It’s the gospel!! Not self-improvement, or getting our lives together to be better, but trusting in the One Who has it all in the palm of His hand and can make us better. God is capable, so cast your incapability in life on Him! I’m not even sure incapability’s a word, but cast it on Him anyway, because that’s what the gospel is!

I’m Shelby Abbott, and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Crystal Paine on FamilyLife Today. I really loved today’s conversation. Crystal has written a book called The Time-Saving Mom: How to Juggle A Lot, Enjoy Your Life, and Accomplish What Matters Most. If that sounds appealing to you, you can pick up a copy at or give us a call at 800-358-6329.

You know, we’re here at the tail end of August. August, for us at FamilyLife, is such a unique time, because we want to offer you something special when you give and partner with us here at FamilyLife. So, when you go online and give a gift of any amount, we’re going to send you FamilyLife’s Art of Parenting® online video course, along with a fun card game called “Ferret Flush™” that you can play with your family to get to know them better. We want you to invest in your parenting, and August is a great time to be able to do that.

So, when you go online to, you can make a donation; and when you do, as our “thank you,” we’re going to send you The Art of Parenting online video course and a fun card game to get to know your family better. Again, that’s, or you can give us a call at 800-F as in “family,” L as in “life,” and then the word, “TODAY.” Or you can feel free to drop us something in the mail. Our donation address is FamilyLife, 100 Lake Hart Drive, Orlando, FL 32832.

Now, tomorrow, Dave and Ann Wilson will be in the studio with Jim Davis and Michael Atchison. They’re going to talk about how the pandemic played a part in the significant shift of dechurching. That’s coming up tomorrow. We hope you’ll join us.

On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We’ll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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