Blank Squares

I just ordered a new calendar this morning, and – as I hit ‘purchase’ – I found myself reflecting on this upcoming year.  January 1st may just be a date written on a 12 x 24 piece of paper hanging from my kitchen door, but it really does send the Type-A side of my brain into overdrive just a bit.  We’ve already almost completed another 365 days, and the countdown is about to begin on another.

What did I do with this past year?  Did I accomplish my goals?  What do I want to achieve during the brand new year?

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Although I’m not big on having New Year’s resolutions like “this year I’m going to lose five pounds” hanging over my head, I do enjoy setting goals for myself.   After all, you’re not really living if you’re not growing.  And I always want to strive to be a better person.

But the funny thing is that – looking back – what I see as my biggest accomplishment of 2019 was what I didn’t do.

As a planner freak, the white squares on a brand new calendar make me positively giddy with delight, because I can’t wait to fill them up.  Just hand me a pen, and ready…set…scribble.  Let’s plan out this year!

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But for the first time in probably forever, I’ve started to focus more on the significance of those white squares themselves.  Because each one designates a day.  Valuable time that, once spent, I won’t get back.

So what am I spending it on?  Who am I spending it on?

Over the course of these past few months, I was – out of necessity – forced to say “no” and prioritize what I said “yes” to more than I had in the past.  My hubby was under a lot of stress at work and started a new position…  We were all stretched a bit thin… The kids were acting more emotional than normal… I was burnt out…

Something had to give.

Everything just kind of felt as though it was spinning out of control, so – in a desperate attempt to gain footing – I cleared our schedules… a lot.  And at the time, being forced to do that made me feel like I was being punished.  😉  As I cut back and scribbled out plans (or said “no” to new ones), I kind of wanted to pout like a two year old and declare, “Well, that’s not fair!”

But I knew it had to be done…  So I kept a close eye on our weekly schedules, making sure they were balanced more towards a slower pace.  I didn’t rush us out the door for every story time, play date, and activity we were invited to. Gasp, during a particularly busy week, I even purchased cookies from a bakery instead of making them homemade for a family event (an action which nearly gave me a heart attack, but I somehow survived to tell the tale).

I consoled myself with the fact that this would only be for a season…  I could pick everything back up once our family unit was allowed to breathe and collect itself.

But here’s the thing…  Over these past few months, I haven’t just grown accustomed to this new lifestyle.  I’ve started to thrive in it.

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Everything I did had been for my kids, but – along the way – we were so busy that they were unintentionally getting lost amidst the movement.  At the end of the day, they cherish the simple moments together most.  They get excited for playdates, enjoy library story times, and feel giddy at the thought of exploring new places.  But they particularly live for ‘lazy days’ (which is what we now call our ‘mommy-and-me’ days).

Granted, those lazy days, which I try to make happen once or twice a week now, are particularly busy for me…  😉  I sneak in a load of laundry or two; but we mostly do messy crafts, have dance parties, play outside, do chores together, make messes in the kitchen sink, snuggle, bake, and learn.  We hardly ever look at the clock, because we have nowhere to be.

My one focus is them.

Now of course, at the very core of things, that has always been my focus!  Everything I do is for them.  But when you’re all wrapped up in timelines, schedules, and ‘doing’, sometimes I wonder if little ones even realize that.  When you’re scolding your kids to hurry up and get their shoes on, because you’re going to rush off to the library to have so much fun learning…  Or when you chastise, because you had another craft planned out for the day and it’s just not turning out right…  Well, the chaos can – at times – steal some of the joy.

Impatient words or tones can overshadow the love behind what propels your actions to begin with.

Kids just want their moms.  The happy, smiling, full-of-life versions of their moms that too often get pushed aside and replaced with tired, impatient, stretched-too-thin mama’s.  (Let’s face it, we moms are already juggling way too much!  But thanks in part to mom-guilt fueled by Pinterest and social media, now we can also compare our efforts to unrealistic versions of other women.  So suddenly, we think we need to be doing ALL the crafts, serving pancakes decorated like Santa Claus, joining all the socialization playgroups, baking homemade breads for dinner, starting all the holiday traditions, teaching our six year olds Latin, and living in pristine homes decorated all in white).

Nope, nope, and nope!

Let’s let children be children… and mama’s be mama’s!

Slowing down a bit not only helped me and the kids reconnect on a deeper level, but it also encouraged me to take a bit of time for my own self-care. I’m talking healthy lunches.  Listening to encouraging podcasts while doing dishes.  Connecting with friends.  Taking a moment, on occasion, to do something ‘just for me’.

***Making sure morning devotions are top priority!***

Wait, let me put that in bold…

Making sure morning devotions are top priority!  

Girl, I don’t even take my first sip of coffee until I’ve had prayer and Bible time now.  If I worry about having time for that, I’m too busy.  Priorities!!

For me, it comes down to investing in faith, family, and friends.  Serving my King.  Loving people.  Taking care of myself and my family.  And finding balance, knowing that I can’t do everything.  So sometimes I need to say “no” in order to be able to fully say “yes.”

For I know the plans I have for you... to prosper you and not | Etsy

Sometimes, you can get so busy doing things for your family, that you lose the connection with your family.  (The same goes with your relationship with God, church, and friends too).  We need to stop…being…so… busy and to start connecting!

Sometimes, we just need a white square or two!








8 thoughts on “Blank Squares

  1. I love the way you have prioritized the white space in your calendar this year! Those “mommy & me” days are going to be the ones B & K treasure as they grow up! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am the same way at the end of the year! Although people say, “it’s just another day”, to me it really does symbolize a point in time and new beginnings. I also get sappily reminiscent and reflective over the past year. And A-M-E-N to this whole post!! While I don’t truly understand what it’s like to balance all that being a mom entails, I have a feeling this post hit straight to the heart for many out there. The part that particularly resonated with me is the importance to start the morning with devos. In the chaos and disruption of routine, I especially can find myself not making them a priority- but I love that you don’t sip your coffee until you’ve done them! That’s a great idea to make sure that precious and important time doesn’t get put on the back burner. And thank you for emphasizing the importance of keeping free time open for fostering relationships- for you that is the mama and me time, and I need to be more intentional to make sure I have that time spent with DJ or to develop friendships in this stage. LOVED reading this. Thank you for sharing, Nicole! Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, making time for ‘free time’ (whatever that may require during certain stages of our lives) is SO important!! It’s way too easy to be caught up in the crazy rat race, because life is SO busy. And down-time can seem so unimportant (and I tend to feel guilty about it) when it’s actually SO healthy and necessary! 🙂 I’m learning to prioritize mom time for myself, and I’m excited to put that into practice this new year. 🙂 Happy New Year, my friend!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m really glad I read this comment today!! I woke up this morning and for the first time in ever I don’t have a long to-do list today. It’s a weird feeling, but I’m trying to just enjoy it since the next semester starts in less than a week. Now I feel I have the freedom to just enjoy and not feel guilty- so thank youuu!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I really hope that you gave yourself that time to rest! You SO deserved it!!! I’m the same way, I always feel guilty for the rest time. But it’s as necessary as the food we fuel our bodies with! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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