My blog has moved! I’d love for you to join me at my new site, www.theenoughmom.com, where I’m participating in a new series, “Letters to my Daughters,” as part of the Write 31 Days challenge.
Anais Nin said, “We write to taste life twice.” I’d have to agree. Words are powerful, an art form. The Lord gave us the ability to express ourselves in various forms, and to consider the depth and breadth we have in verbal expression – alongside the privilege to live in a part of the world with the freedom to share our thoughts – is humbling. Words are a gift, and the written word is especially powerful, because it captures our stories in a form we, and others, can revisit over and over again.
I started this blog at the beginning of October to fulfill a goal I’ve held for several years to participate in an annual 31-day writing challenge. I have read and authored (a little) educational blog content over the past ten or so years, and have more recently discovered the world of mom bloggers and drawn great encouragement, empathy, and inspiration from hearing from others on the motherhood journey. In this more personal blogging arena, I have experienced conflicting feelings on whether to write at all (What do I have to contribute? How does this fit with my professional writing? Should I be making time for this?) and have been somewhat hesitant to share my work in a more public way. But after a series of events over the following two days – including following the harrowing reports of the Paris terrorist attacks, reading Rory & Joey’s heart-wrenching story, and discussing ideas for supporting talented girls across their lives (many of whom become working moms) at a recent conference – I have decided that my story is worth sharing, for the following reasons.
- Writing helps us to see where we’ve been and where we’re going. Writing is such a great form of reflection, both in the process and finished product. Reflection is so important to our learning and growth, and I often get so caught up in the whirlwind of life that I forget to stop and make time to journal or even think about what I’m doing and why. As both a teacher and a wife/mom, I want to always be moving forward, changing to become better and wiser over time.
- Our words are part of our unique legacy. Words hold great power – to lift and encourage, to teach, to inspire, to offer empathy and forge connections. Throughout time and across cultures, storytelling has been an integral part of the human experience. While spoken words may be remembered for a moment, written words stand the test of time. None of us are promised tomorrow, but what we say today holds the power to make an impact beyond our presence on this earth. I want my daughters, and perhaps others, to be able to look back and catch a glimpse of who I was – and who I wanted to become – in this busy season of my life as a working mom. I also hope others might be inspired and provoked to thought or even action as a result of my words.
- The Lord often calls us beyond our comfort zones. As Christians, we are are obligated to our God-given gifts and dreams for His glory and purposes. Many wonderful teachers and kind friends have generously encouraged me in my writing over the years, and while professional writing is something I can do all day long, sharing my more personal thoughts in a public way is way outside my comfort zone. My biggest fear in sharing my thoughts on motherhood is to be perceived as someone proclaiming to “have it all together,” because I most certainly don’t (as anyone knows who’s spent 5 minutes with me and my strong-willed oldest child)! But I do believe there is great power in sharing our journey as women and to encourage and support one another along the way. Throughout the Bible, the Lord continually used those who felt – and were – inadequate to accomplish His purposes, and I cling to the promise that He will use me as well. My story is powerful only to the extent that His voice is illuminated through it.
At the end of the day, the world needs our words. Women have a unique perspective, and we need to both hear and be heard by one another. And our children will one day want to hear our stories… and it all starts with us taking the time to write them down.
How are you sharing your story?
This is my view sitting in bed tonight. I’m actually feeling pretty good about myself that the piles of laundry are clean rather than dirty. No questions about how long they’ve been there, please. I have low expectations these days. This summer, I read some tip online from this lady who never put a new load of laundry in until she had put away the last one. And I thought, “What a great idea!” And after it took me over a week to get caught up with my laundry using that method, I decided to just aim for getting things washed. Folding – optional. I don’t even pair socks anymore. We have two baskets – one for kid socks, one for adult socks. If you need a match, go fish in the basket. Low expectations, highly recommended.
So, on this week before Halloween, when your to-do list probably looks a lot like mine, with cupcakes to bake, fall festivals and doctor’s appointments to attend, parties to host, costumes to make or find, kids out of school for fall break to entertain, and – oh yeah, WORK + your family’s normal weekly activities, here’s permission to get rid of the pressure to “do it all,” delete those unimportant tasks, enjoy the moment, laugh off the slip-ups, and don’t forget to take care of yourself too.
Because after all, if your kids are fed, your husband has clean underwear, and your house is not growing toxic mold, then you’re doing a great job, Mama! One day, they’ll look back at pictures and appreciate the effort you put into that costume and treasure their family memories from this week, and you’ll remember their precious chubby faces and giddy laughter and (hopefully) forget all about your dirty floors and pesky unpaired socks. So, hang in there, lower your expectations, and hold fast to the hope that November 1st with its extra hour of sleep is only three short days away…
Have you felt overwhelmed lately?
Jobs can feel overwhelming. Motherhood can feel overwhelming. Life can feel overwhelming.
I’ve learned that feelings of overwhelm are often a sign I need to shift my perspective. Like Peter, I tend to start sinking the moment my eyes drift away from Jesus and down onto my circumstances. Mondays sometimes have a tendency to pull us down into overwhelm, and we need to be ready to combat those feelings with the Truth.
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. – Colossians 3:23-24 (NIV)
Take heart on this Monday and everyday, because we have a true promise of a great Hope! And we also have little eyes looking up to watch how we work – either for men or for the Lord. May I be ever mindful that that my example and attitude will teach my girls far more than my words or intentions.
What are your reasons? What one step can you take toward being exceptional today?
Growing up, my very hard-working dad would always tell us, “Work smarter, not harder.” I hear his voice in my head all the time now, which is usually a good thing! Most working moms want to get our work done as well and as efficiently as possible, so we can make the most of our time with our kids. Even though I now work from home, I hate the feeling of not being done with work for the day when it’s time to pick up the girls from school… because it means more work awaits me after their bedtime. Having my work caught up is one of the best feelings, because then my attention is not divided, and I can truly relax in the evening. In this post, I shared a few of my favorite planning and to-do list tips and tools. Here are three productivity tips that I’ve found to be especially helpful in getting things done.
- The Pomodoro Technique. I’ve been setting a timer to get things done for years but just discovered this specific timer method. Basically, you set a timer for 25 minutes, work as hard as you can on a task, break for 5 minutes, and begin again. This video gives a quick overview. Over time, it supposedly helps you to see how many “poms” you need to allot for certain tasks and can help in planning your day realistically – which is good for people like me who tend to be overly optimistic about time management. Lots of writers and professors use it, and I’ve found great success with it in the past week for writing and grading.
- Break your to-do list into micro-tasks. A few years ago, I read part of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen. The part of the book that really stuck with me was his explanation that many of our to-do list items are actually macro-items that have multiple related smaller steps. For example, one of my to-do list items is “Submit travel request for conference,” and that could be broken down into other steps, such as: Email administrative assistant, Print forms off website, Locate registration receipt, Calculate meal costs, etc. The goal is that you enable yourself to complete the task by being more specific about exactly what needs to be done and how much time it will take. Simple, but brilliant – at least to me!
- Daily Top 3. I got this one from Inspired to Action (I guess you can tell by now I love Kat’s stuff!). Like the first two, it’s super easy but makes a big impact. Each day, when you write out all your to-do list items, go back and star or circle your “top 3” things that MUST be done. Now, I know, if you’re like me, you’re probably thinking there’s no way you could pick just three. Sometimes I make two lists – one for work tasks and one for home/family tasks, and circle two or three in each area. But the main idea is to force yourself to prioritize what urgently must be done vs. all those things that seem important but really aren’t. The goal is still to get to all of your to-do’s, but in the case that you don’t, at the end of the day when your head hits the pillow, there is a great satisfaction in knowing that you at least accomplished the three most important ones.
I told you they were simple, but sometimes simplest is best! What’s your best tip for maximizing your work time?
Sometimes motherhood can be isolating, and I think working moms are especially prone to feeling that way. As a work-from-home mom, I’ve learned that I have to be intentional with maintaining and cultivating relationships with other women to get the support I need to survive. We moms need each other!
Reading blogs can be a fun way to gain wisdom or motivation from others on the motherhood journey. Here are some of my favorite working moms to read. May you be as blessed and encouraged by them as I have been.
Grace @ GraceLaced – I found this lady on Instagram, and she also has a blog and online shoppe. As if being a wife and mom to SIX sons wasn’t enough, she is also a gifted artist who works from home creating gorgeous watercolor prints and is equally talented with her use of words, which are a refreshing mix of transparent humility and inspiration. I always walk away from her posts motivated to either do better or give myself extra grace.
Kat @ Inspired to Action – If you read blogs – or even if you don’t! – this lady needs to be at the top of your list. I think she was the first “mom blogger” I stumbled across years ago when my oldest was a baby (probably from a desperate Google search about sleep or colic or potty training). She rocks! Mom of 3 from Texas who works from home running all sorts of resources to inspire other moms to embrace the importance of their role and take action to improve. She’s such an awesome combination of down-to-earth, organized, and motivational. Be sure to check out her podcasts as well.
Melanie @ The Big Mama Blog – This lady is hilarious! She’s a stay-at-home mom to one daughter, turned author of three books. She has a special way of chronicling the everyday moments of life and motherhood to capture both the funny and serious. Her writing always brings a smile to my face and usually uplifts my faith as well.
Leann @ Just Start Somewhere – I found Leann, a fellow working mom, through the Write31Days challenge. She is a women’s health coach and blogs about the importance of self-care for moms from a Christian perspective, which I can attest is super important. She will inspire you to take manageable steps to make better choices for yourself, so you can better care for your crew.
Any fellow struggling perfectionists out there? My hand is up… well, it used to be. I like to consider myself a recovering perfectionist these days (or at least I’m trying). Years ago in college, we once had a night meeting where we met in small groups with our different teacher education professors for an informal Q&A session. The talented leader of my group was a working mom with young kids. Looking back, I can really relate to her now, although she of course seemed “old” at the time. Someone asked a question about time management, probably because we all thought we were busy and overwhelmed (while our 30’s selves are having a good laugh in retrospect). And she gave us a piece of advice I’ve never forgotten. She said, “Some things just have to be done, and some things have to be done well. Now that’s a good word for tired working moms with plates spinning in the air left and right. The important thing is figuring out the difference.
If we try to do everything to a standard of perfection, we will either never begin and fall way short of our goals, or our health or family will eventually suffer while everything looks good from the outside. The perfectionist and people-pleaser in me wants to do it all and do it all well, but I’m slowly but surely learning how satisfying and significant “No” is and how to be ok with certain outcomes that are “just ok.” Sometimes I jump in with both feet and then have to dial it back – and that’s ok too!
Earlier today, I was feeling frustrated with myself that I signed up for this challenge and have missed several days of writing due to especially busy events with my job and family that I didn’t account for. So, I thought, “How can I simplify this and still complete the main goal I set to write more often during the month of October?” I counted up the remaining days in the month and found that if I post once a day, each day, until October 31, I will have a collection of 21 posts… which the perfectionist in me considers a nice “catchy” number. 🙂 And while it does fall short of the original goal, the outcome is still one I can be proud of, because I set a goal to grow in my writing, and I have! It’s much more than I would have accomplished by never beginning in the first place while waiting for the perfect circumstances to write, and I have learned a ton along the way about writing and about myself.
Are you an active or recovering perfectionist? What things do you just need to get done, and what things do you want to do well? Here’s a printable sticky note to do list to help you keep track of it all!