Motherhood, Parenting, Uncategorized

Intentional Living

With a new month upon us, I can’t help but reflect on some important changes that have been made in my life and in our home in this last month.

While I’ve been working hard on adopting some better habits (see my recent post), I’ve also been investing some significant effort into being a better steward of my (our) time.

My most important work this month, however, has definitely been the work I’ve done to carve out one-on-one time with my daughters. In addition to this, I have FINALLY given up speaking negatively about my children (particularly my oldest). This isn’t to say I’m unaware of their struggles … I’m just not going to focus on the bad anymore … I’m not going to react or get angry. Of course, I still get frustrated at times (I am human after all), but I’m not going to let it take over anymore. This requires SIGNIFICANT daily work on my part to CARE FOR MYSELF so I can be a better servant to them.

It has been a long road to get here. I have had some VERY challenging times with my big girl in the past (and many of my springtime blog posts reflect this … see “A Hardened Heart” or “I Said I Was Sorry”); my heart was breaking because I was so lost as a mother. I didn’t know how to help her or how to help myself. I look back, and I can see a very dark time in our history together. I remember struggling to write down and highlight her good qualities, and it seemed I struggled to “speak life” over her, even though I wanted to so badly.

Finally, at the beginning of September, as I entered into a “September Kickstart Challenge Bootcamp” in which I was supposed to set some goals for an important outcome in my life, I knew that I had to put some serious effort into my mindset surrounding my oldest daughter and some of her tendencies. I TRIED to avoid it a little longer, initially setting a goal to increase traffic on my blog and Facebook page, but I knew in my heart that wasn’t going to serve our family. It wasn’t going to improve our lives or our time together.

On August 30th, I sent this note to the Bootcamp coordinator …

Hi Jill,

Just thought I would drop a note about what I need to work on for September … I may need A LOT of help for this one … here’s what I’m thinking …

September Outcome(s)

My thoughts and beliefs about my oldest daughter will be more positive … I will “speak life” over my daughter … and therefore, my actions towards her will be more loving and positive as well (as opposed to annoyed and irritated).

This will help her be more loving and positive too (I hope).

I will figure out how to administer fair consequences … lovingly.

I’m just WAY TOO negative sometimes when it comes to my oldest … and I really want to work on that …

Please help!

Leanne

This is how she responded …

Right away when I read this, I thought “what do you need to do for you to change this? Why is your response annoyed and irritated? Do you need more sleep, more energy, more time for you, etc.?”

I know that my patience level is much better when I have time each day for my work and my purpose.

And yes, attitude reflects leadership. So, as you shift, she will too.

Forcing me to consider WHY I had such negative feelings towards my daughter or why my responses were so irritated, I racked me brain for potential reasons … of course, there are NO REASONS, NO EXCUSES, NO WAYS OF JUSTIFYING such negative thoughts and behaviours. And once I realized that, I just STOPPED thinking that way about her. I also STOPPED talking to my husband NEGATIVELY about her. And I STOPPED getting so upset when she was defiant.

I did take the coordinator’s questions very seriously too about needing more sleep, more energy, and more (intentional) time for me and the things that fill me up. I’ve made significant strides in this regard in the last 30  days, and things are MUCH, MUCH better. We’ve transitioned back into the hectic schedule of school and some extra-curricular FAIRLY smoothly. Of course, we struggle with the after school “come down” each day, but I’m not REACTING. Instead, I’m responding with love (as I committed to so so long ago … see “Respond With Love”). I’m looking at my daughter with compassion, and I’m attempting DAILY to build our connection, our bond. I’m committed to BEING PRESENT and WITH my kids as we prepare for our days, and as we come home each day after school. This takes some careful planning on my part (and some strategic effort to ensure my cup is full first, so I can pour more into them).

Here are a few specifics (because if I was reading this, I would want a few “takeaways”) …

As you probably know by now, I’m a spreadsheet girl, so I whipped one up for September, essentially “scheduling” one-on-one time for each of my daughters, as well as “kid time” in which we are all together. Here’s a weekly sample of that …

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I also sat down and created a “life” spreadsheet … this one is for September … October will look quite different as we add hockey into our extra-curricular schedule. I also hope to “make room” for Daddy and husband time (once harvest is over). *I know the spreadsheet is a bit blurry … I suspect WHAT is on my daily schedule is irrelevant to most of you. This does demonstrate the “structure” though that I am advocating.

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This spreadsheet provides a general outline for our days and helps me to ensure the MOST IMPORTANT things are taken care of each day. It minimizes the chaos that ensues with “extras.” It makes things “predictable” (I’m not good at being blindsided). It provides a rhythm and a routine for our lives. It ensures “space” and “margin.” It brings about a sense of peace and order (something we all thrive on). It makes room for good habit building.

Of course, EVERY HOUR and EVERY DAY doesn’t go as planned (especially on the weekends)! And that’s perfectly OKAY! We DO give ourselves A LOT of GRACE!

I’m sure that some of you think this is ABSOLUTELY CRAZY (it kind of is)! But this works for me and my Type A personality. I am also totally committed to becoming a better steward of my time (so I have and make time for the things that REALLY, REALLY matter … see “The Important List”). I am also totally committed to NOT being SO OVERWHELMED all of the time. That doesn’t serve me or my family! And I wouldn’t think it would serve yours either.

If you haven’t yet, I encourage you to read “The Important List” and get crafting that list. Then start drafting your days, your weeks, your months. I don’t want any motherhood “regrets” (and I suspect you don’t either). If you would like help with this, the teacher in me would LOVE to help YOU! It’s okay to be vulnerable for awhile or admit that this mom stuff is really hard to figure out and get organized. No judgment here! The struggle is REAL! I’ve lived it (and still do, as you just witnessed in “I Mourned” written earlier this week).

Let’s tackle this thing and start being more intentional with the time we’ve got!

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