I’ve always had a lot of intentions. A lot. Like finishing school and getting out of debt and learning to knit and using my sewing machine and scrapbooking our life and starting a garden. And other, bigger intentions, like being a better wife, better friend, better person.
But what dawned on me recently is that you can INTEND to BE and DO anything. You can INTEND all day long. But until you start taking steps that’s all you’ll ever be doing, just intending.
So sometime last week I decided to start taking steps. Tiny steps. Small, almost unidentifiable steps. But steps nonetheless.
Did I start with learning to knit? Or did I enroll back in college? Or did I break out the scrap paper?
No, I decided that if I’m going to be intentional about something it should be my kids. I decided to start with them.
And so far, today has surpassed anything I could have imagined.
And do you want to know what changed?
Not a whole heck of a lot!
Normally my weeks are scattered. One, maybe two days the kids are with a Grandma so I can work and the other days are filled with laundry and cleaning and errands. The kids make a mess and it aggravates me. I get the laundry switched, the clean dumped on my bed and the pile grows all day, nothing ever being put away. I vacuum the floor once, twice, sometimes three times a day. I get the downstairs looking good and the upstairs is a disaster. I keep to no real schedule besides eating and sleeping for the kids. I eat when I think of it and guzzle Mnt Dew to survive. By the time the kids are in bed and Chris is due home I am a shell. Sitting in front of the TV with my computer on my lap working. But not working fast b/c I’m exhausted. Wasting tons of time on blogs and Twitter. Playing Bejewled on my iPhone. I go to bed wishing I had gotten more done while at the same time always wishing I could slow down.
It wasn’t working.
I was half-assing everything. All my intentions were shoved in a drawer and buried by my failed attempts.
So today I woke up and did things a bit differently. I decided that I just can’t DO IT ALL. Mainly b/c I am SICK AND TIRED of always failing. I can not keep a clean house, be a good mom and run a successful business ALL IN ONE DAY.
And that was the key. ALL IN ONE DAY. I was trying to do it all. ALL. And I just can’t.
So today I decided to tackle one space in our home while being intentional with the kids. I started with the playroom. That’s been a bit overrun since Christmas and a flurry of disorganization. But rather than zip around trying to do it as fast as I could so I could get to the emails looming, the phone calls to be made, the laundry to change, I slowed down.
The kids and I all worked together. We’d pick up one area (which is easy b/c our playroom is divided into pretty specific play areas) and then play in a another. I would play princesses with the girls for 15 minutes, put books away for 2, throw the ball with Gray for 5, gather trash for 10, wrestle with all three for 15… so for almost 3 solid hours I was INTENTIONAL about organizing AND being a mom. I combined them. We worked on letters, did puzzles, danced and ended up with a clean+purged room!
And the most amazing part? There were no arguments, no whining, no clinging to my leg, nothing.
I realized that if I just break my day up more, things become more manageable.
7-8am wake up, get dressed, make breakfast, change laundry.
9-11:30am play+clean upstairs
11:30-12pm make+eat lunch and get ready for naps
12:30-3pm eat lunch myself (something I skip most days), change laundry, fold laundry, WORK.
3pm-4:30pm snack, change laundry, play a game, read books, do whatever the kids want to do play-wise.
4:30-5pm make dinner
5pm-7pm eat dinner, baths, books, bed
I know that seems so simple. But instead of being INTENTIONAL about what I was doing I was instead trying to do 50 thousand things at once. And what happened? I would start a game with the girls but stop to answer the phone then get interrupted by an email then realize the dryer was buzzing and the whole time the kids are WAITING FOR ME. And I’m saying JUST A MINUTE for an hour.
Today, I GAVE THEM MY TIME. My undivided TIME. Just for small increments b/c let’s face it, I still had a TON to do. But when I was with them I was WITH THEM. Individually and as a group. And do you want to know what happened? When we finished with an activity, I’m sorry, let me be clear, when the activity naturally came to a stop and I went to do something else there was no whining. I never made them wait for me. When it was their turn it was THEIR TURN. And our morning sailed by. And ALL of us were happy!
I tweeted at one point that the day was going well and I hated how surprised I was. I hate that ENJOYING my children surprised me. Because normally my mind is ALWAYS on work. But when I told myself that from 7am-12pm THEY WERE MY JOB I settled down. I focused on them and organizing their space.
Is the house clean? Nope. Is the laundry done? Never will be. Have I gotten some work done? Some. Was I a good mom? YES.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this NEW YEAR and all that it entails. How I want Fresh Art to succeed, where I want us to be financially, etc. But now I know what I want my new year to show is that I was INTENTIONAL with my life.
That when I was working I was accomplishing something. When I was with Chris I was not distracted. When I was with the kids I was being a good mom. When I talked to friends I actually listened.
My goal is not to have a clean house in 2010.
My goal is to live my life and BE in my life.
It’s a simple thing and I’m sure I will have to dust off this post every few weeks to remind myself but if today is any indication of how our life COULD be… well, it’s awesome.
Jodie! I think we’re thinking the same thoughts today…I’ve been convicted about being checked-in and intentional with my kids too and posted about it only an hour ago! I totally get it…www.heatherbeadles.com.
it’s always nice to know that you are not alone- your post is a good reminder for all of us. have a great afternoon!
Very wise! Organizing is not my strong suit, whether it be arranging “stuff” or planning my time…I am ALWAYS distracted by something!!! I like the idea of the slower pace–that makes A LOT of sense to me. You might just be inspiring me!!!
Hmmmmm…is it too late to change my resolution? I think part of the reason I included practicing yoga in my resolutions is that it helps me to just be. You know…since that is the whole point.
I love it! I love when people post their home schedules, for one thing… but I also love how well you addressed this. My life was really unhappy when I tried to work AND take care of the kids all day. Part of the time I had no choice, but the last couple years have been a series of reorganizations of my/our time. Right now I don’t have any “work” time scheduled for when the kids are awake and Jason’s not home, which is a luxury that makes life so much more pleasant! And I notice how very stressed I get when a work call comes in while I’m on kid duty. I’m not a good multi-tasker!
So glad you’ve got something that’s working! Sounds like a really fun morning!
This is SO true and so thoughtfully stated. Of course I am reading this as I struggle to get my almost two year old to eat her dinner and this leaves me thinking that maybe she would be more focused on her dinner and listening to me better if I was actually looking at her and focused on her instead of this computer! Thanks for the reminder of what it is all about Jod!
Well done Jodie! I’ve always felt that when I just stop and choose to be 100% present with my kids, they are so incredibly easy to parent. It’s when we allow ourselves to be pulled away and distracted by things (that REALLY truly can wait) that we lose our patience and joy with them. Stop, breathe, and choose to be present and you’ll be amazed at how wonderful being a mom can be! Enjoy 2010!!!
Ummmmmmmmmmmm. Can I cut and paste and put on my blog!? Totally what I would’ve written and need to live by.
xoxoxo. you can DO THIS!
awesome. love it. the few times that i have had days like this, it’s totally true. it’s those days that i love being a momma. and i’ve also found that it usually makes a big difference when i offer my day up to God, and he helps me to “be.” thanks for the reminder!
So true. You put it perfectly. Being 100 percent present makes all the difference.