I am a planner. I LOVE to plan. If my world is crazy and I feel like I can’t take it anymore, I get out my extra fine point sharpies and make a list. Or I open my Pages application and start a chart of some sort, nailing something down in my world. If I have to go too long without planning something out, I go a bit crazy. Give me a birthday party, a holiday event, a trip to a new city, a curriculum map, or something to pace out. I love it.
Because of this, I have this habit. Every weekend, generally on Sunday afternoons, I sit down and write out my to-do list for the week. I know that for some people, that might be a chore, but for me, it is actually a very Sabbath-y habit. It settles the swirl of upcoming things in my mind and helps me to feel like I can breathe a little deeper. It allows me a chance to think through how I can prioritize for the week and what I need to just say no to.
Actually, at the end of each month, I write a list of goals/things that I hope or need to accomplish in the coming month in a little composition book that my mom sent over at some point. I typically jot a little number next to them, indicating which week they would best be accomplished, based on what they are and what my demands for the coming month are. Then, each Sunday, I open up that little 99 cent composition book and look at what is slated for the upcoming week. I add the events of the week ahead, and divide them up by days.
The thing is, I know that the whole planning/goal setting industry has exploded in the last decade, since I was a young mom. Now you can find all sorts of planners and list pads for every area of your life, at every price point imaginable. I see on Facebook that some of you go to fancy, sold-out conferences for these sorts of things and I’m not gonna lie, I might get a little bit jealous. Though, part of me thinks that I’m dangerous enough with the little basic system I’ve developed for myself and that it’s probably a good thing that I wasn’t armed with all of that gear back when I had 4 young’uns, age 5 and under. The Lord knows our limits, doesn’t He?
Some of you just read those four paragraphs and pictured yourself in prison, right? Why in the world would someone micro-manage their life like that. I can assure you that when I have a conversation with a friend who doesn't have a plan for XYZ that is coming up in 6 days, I feel the same kind of walls closing in. I am so glad that God made us such diverse creatures. I am also glad that I have learned to appreciate diversity in other women more and more as I have entered my 40s.
Generally, my little weekly system works pretty well, even when written on plain old college ruled-loose leaf paper that was left behind by some retiring missionaries. I honestly believe that, for me, I get way more accomplished with that little bit of time invested in planning, than I would without it. I also think that I am ultimately less stressed, because I can clearly see what I need to do and what can wait.
But, there is one thing that keeps getting put at the bottom of the list. Every week, and I mean EVERY week, I put “Blog” on the list. Why do I put it there? Because I love to do it. After list-making, it’s one of my favorite ways to decompress. Yet, week after week, it goes undone. It doesn’t really stress me out, because I don’t “need” to blog. It just makes me a bit sad that I am not better about attending to the things I enjoy.
I look back to the times when I was blogging regularly and wonder how I did it. Then I remember, "Oh yeah, I had a dishwasher, naptimes instead of taxi duty, a mom who took the kids one morning a week, fast food restaurants, convenience grocery options, produce that didn't have to be bleached before eating, and steady electricity, internet, and water...just to name a few things! So, it is understandable that I just don't have as much "me" time. And yet, I still need to have some things that keep my feeling like a human being with a soul that delights in things which I find beautiful, and not just a workhorse.
That’s a hard concept for me. I am not good about caring for my own self. I am quick to meet the needs of others, and, when I take the time to, I often feel so guilty. Why is that? I know I’m a better wife and mom when I create some space for the things I love and yet I rarely do it. It seems the “me” things are always the thing that can wait. It’s something I am working on. Something I am trying to find a better rhythm with. At the rate I’m going, I’ll have it figured out by the time our nest is empty and it’s just the two of us again.
Speaking of which, one of the things I would have blogged about if I was better about making time for it, is the fact that my college sweetheart and I celebrated 21 years of wedded bliss a few weeks ago. Since we married at the tender age of 21, that means we have now been married for 1/2 of our lives! I’m not gonna lie, there have been some hard times walking this road together. There have been a few seasons where the single life had a whole lotta luster for me. But, in the end, with lots of prayer and re-focusing, and just good-old fashioned commitment, we always get to the point where we find the other one to be “our favorite” again. God led me well when it came to choosing a spouse and I am so, so thankful.
Here’s a little picture of us, headed out to dinner on our anniversary. Moms of young children, be assured, there will come a day when your little ones will be able to take post-worth photos. However, I can’t guarantee that by the time that happens the wrinkles won’t be coming on fast! Embrace them, they are likely hard-earned!