They were well-meaning comments.
"You must have SO much time on your hands now!"
"Ooh, girl, you've been working towards this moment for so many years, right? And now it's here: freedom!!"
"What are you going to do today without your kids?"
Our youngest just started kindergarten, and I find myself in a position I have longed for for years. Both our children are now at the same school, a short walk from home, and I finally have kid-free time that doesn't require arranging for a babysitter, planning ahead to have grandparents take them, or paying for preschool.
Why do I feel so crappy, then? Any why do these well-meaning comments rub the wrong way?
Here's my reality:
YES, I do have much more "time on my hands". But that doesn't mean I know how to use it well.
YES, I have been working toward this moment for a long time. But that doesn't mean it's all sunshine and roses now that it's here.
YES, I have "free time". But I also have family relationships to nurture, a moms' prayer group to coordinate, a small business to run, friends to hang out with, a Sunday School class to lead, coaching clients to support, a house to clean, and meals to prepare. Where, exactly, is the free time in all that?
Maybe you can relate. You have so many things on your mind, a to-do list that just won't quit, and you're reacting to life instead of living it. I've talked to so many moms who've been in your shoes.
A client with a one year old shared, "I have all these ideas of what I could do, but I'm always on my phone, and nothing's getting done. All the ways I didn't do what I wanted to is a constant burden."
"I wake up feeling already behind," said a mama of three young ones. "I want to be more present and loving to my kids. I don't want to have an emotional reaction when they bombard me in the mornings."
A mom at my workshop last weekend confessed, "I feel like every moment is taken."
When we don't know what our priorities are, life becomes a series of responding to needs and minor crises (we're late, but Josh can't find his socks - again!). What needs to happen to get off of this hamster wheel?
Here is my process, if you'd like to see:
I know life is full. But as you go through your week, notice what is filling your time. What commitments do you have? Work, kids' sports teams, extended family, volunteering? Are there ways you aren't using time as well as you'd like? YouTube (guilty as charged), putting off chores, multitasking in a way that's not productive?
2) Take time to choose your priorities.
Clear a block of time to sit down. Then list every possible commitment you have, or could have, in this season. Sit with them a while. If you have a spiritual practice, pray or sit in silence - use it to guide you. Then pick the top ones - the non-negotiables. It's okay if you're not 100% sure about them. You can always adjust. For now, just pick the ones that seem most important, the ones you want to give time to.
3) Make time for what's important.
Here are a few things I've decided are important to me this fall:
Walks / time with God - Walks are my exercise, my mental health boost, and my time to pray. To make time for this, I walk the long way home after school drop-off (vs. having to build my own momentum to leave the house in the middle of the day).
Growing my coaching practice - I'm dedicating Tuesday and Thursday mornings to work, starting after my morning walks. Every other Wednesday I take extra time to finish and send my newsletter (if you haven't subscribed, what are you waiting for?!).
Seeing friends - Summertime was a dry time, socially, for me. To make sure I reconnect with friends, I'm leaving Wednesday and Friday mornings more open to hang out with women I love.
Feeding my family - My husband is the main lunch-packer in our house, but I've taken to doing something on Sunday evenings to help. Cutting a bunch of carrot sticks, making a batch of sandwiches to stick in the freezer, or preparing fruit for easy packing helps me contribute to a peaceful morning.
4) Reflect and reassess.
After a week or two, take time to check in. How's it going? Are your priorities being reflected in how you use your time? How does it feel? This is a good time to make tweaks.
I recently heard a mom say, "If I could just get things ready the night before - pack the lunches, lay the clothes out, get the things ready - we would be SO much less stressed in the mornings." She's onto something! It takes intention to think ahead and make space for the things that are most important to us. When you know your priorities, you know how to use your time, and life gets better.
If you'd like a guide to walk you through this process, I'd love to be that person. I'm dual-certified to help women like you find their focus, make time for what's important, and end their days feeling happy and productive.
Get help to use your time well
If you've read the steps above and still feel overwhelmed, I'd love to help. Get one-on-one time with me, and find more peace by identifying your priorities. It doesn't have to be this hard. Click below to book your complimentary session.
Ever have a moment that stops you in your tracks?
A moment when - out of nowhere - a teachable moment smacks you over the head?
I did at the start of a family vacation last summer.
We were on a plane to Iowa to visit family, and I noticed a little boy across the aisle. He looked about 5 years old and was wearing a t-shirt several times too big for him. From his wide-eyed expression, I wondered if it was his first time on a plane.
He got more and more excited as we prepared for takeoff, asking incredulously, "Are we going to go even faster than THIS?" as we slowly taxied.
As the plane accelerated down the runway he loudly exclaimed, "YEAH! We're almost in the clouds!!"
We were most certainly still bumping down the runway, but I was so struck by his vision for being up in the air - it was so real he could almost taste it!
I know not all of my readers are people of faith - but, I sensed that which I call God nudging me to learn from this boy. At that time I was weeks away from the final test that would determine if I would graduate from my coach training on time. The distance between me and my coaching certification was rapidly decreasing and I was almost in flight.
Yet I FELT very much earthbound. I had recently gotten feedback that my coaching was technically excellent but "mechanical". Ouch. Worse, I could see what my trainer meant, but I didn't know how to become more natural.
Yet through this excited little boy, I felt invited to focus less on the frustration of my earthbounded-ness and more on how great it was going to be to be up in the clouds!
I was on the right track. (And, with practice, I was able to coach naturally even under the time constraint of our final test and graduate on time!)
Is there any area of your life where you are discouraged about not having “taken off”?
Maybe you feel behind in your career. You look around at your peers and their sophisticated-sounding job titles. How can you possibly catch up?
Maybe you feel behind in being an adult. Sure, you've managed to keep your kids alive, but their diet of 99% carbs, the state of the living room, and the fact that you've constantly running late is not a great feeling. Shouldn't you have the hang of this by now?
There is an incredible difference between being on the ground and being in the air. And honestly, my first instinct was to laugh at the boy who thought we were almost in the clouds when I could feel the bumps of the pavement beneath us. But in a way, he was right! Within about ten minutes we really were flying alongside the clouds.
Zoom out and look at yourself from a higher perspective. Could it be you are on the runway now? Maybe you’re still at the gate. Maybe you’re taxiing. Or maybe you’re positioned to take flight sooner than you know.
Whether it’s waking up with a weird feeling behind the eyes because I’ve stayed up too late; coming downstairs to a dining table full of works-in-progress, summer camp drawings, event fliers and batteries (yes, batteries); or having the kids fight over the brown sugar and shovel a questionable amount into their oatmeal bowls…
Let’s just say, I’m a morning person, but getting out the door with my kids can leave me less than sunny.
I recently read a weird question about mornings: What makes you angry? The writer challenged readers to identify what exactly it is that makes them angry in the morning, and to find one solution–just one–for that anger-triggering thing.
I guess I’m an undercover angry person because I can think of several things that make me mad. In no particular order, here are five maddening situations that occur at my house in the morning, and the sanity-saving solutions that have worked for me.
Read the rest over at Kindred Mom.
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