Ready or not, the new year is in full swing. Our social media accounts are bombarded with friends posting about their word of the year, or resolutions to work out and eat more salads. None of these things are harmful and most are actually healthy, but is what we need every year a reason to do more?
As a busy mom of three girls with more on my calendar than I seem able to actually go to, I feel the need to always be doing something, that somehow if I am constantly moving, planning, writing and creating, I’ll be happier and more successful.
I also know from experience, that I will be more stressed out, less capable of being patient and most likely unavailable to do small things that actually matter, like taking my kids outside to play in the sunshine or chatting with a neighbor who may just need some company.
I certainly will not be able to make time for any last minute spontaneous fun adventures that life seems to be full of.
Now before you think I have jumped off the deep end and decided to throw my calendar and planner out the door, don’t worry, I didn’t. I am still an adult with responsibilities and the answer to my problems will never be the extreme of what I am trying to fight against. Just because our current world glorifies busyness does not mean we can never be busy.
What I hope for is room in my busy life to be purposeful. I want to also be present, remembering as the saying goes, “that the days are long, but the years are short.”
So, how can we be both planned and organized while also being purposeful and present?
First is to know what your priorities are. Once you know what your priorities are, you can break out the calendar and plan around them. This may mean eliminating other things that you used to think of as priorities. For example, it may have been a priority to go to the gym every day but since that cuts into family time, maybe instead of hitting the gym every day you can hit the hiking trails once or twice a week and do it together as a family. When your priorities are clear, it makes it a whole lot easier to clear your calendar of unnecessary clutter.
The second thing I found helpful was to plan ahead. I know it sounds counter-productive to plan ahead to allow you to be present, but it does!
I love to be able to cook homemade meals, but with a crazy packed schedule it is almost impossible to do unless I plan ahead. If I know the week will be busy, the weekend before, I do a meal list that includes the meal for each night and easy options for lunch and breakfast and then write a grocery list. This helps me to realistically be able to cook dinner for my family, a priority, while also spending limited time in the kitchen. Twenty minutes of writing down a plan for that week’s meals frees me up for homework help, sidewalk chalk time or even time to catch up on my husband’s day.
Also, if my priority is ultimately to spend time with my family, then grabbing something premade every once in a while is worth it because family comes before even a home-cooked meal.
The last thing is leaving yourself with time and the ability to not have anything planned. Just because you own a planner and calendar does not mean you have to fill up every little space of it. Leave actual room to maybe catch up with a friend who is in town last minute or go on a spontaneous trip to the San Diego Zoo – my family’s favorite since we have annual passes. Nothing is more fun than grabbing a pizza and heading to the zoo after school and work! If every part of your life is planned and filled up, you will miss out on the little things that truly can make you feel successful and happy.
Just remember you are in control of your life and calendar, so if you are feeling like it is time for a change, do something drastic and be purposeful.
Ashleigh Rood is an East County resident and homemaker. Visit her blog and online store here: https://rosysunset.com/