goals

Intentions

When you work in a school setting – or even if you don’t – September is the other New Year. It’s a great time for fresh starts, and I am a huge fan of a fresh start.

I’m sitting in an empty house as I type this; the boys are on a dump run/bike ride with Tamara, and I am contemplating what intentions I’d like to set for myself as the new school year starts.

Work hard and stay present. Ever since becoming a parent, it’s been harder for me to focus at work. It surprised me as much as anyone else to learn that I’d rather be at home with my kids than anywhere else; I’ve always loved being a social worker, and I didn’t expect parenthood to present this particular challenge for me. But it’s true. Before Edgar was born, I attended work every day with my whole head and heart in it; since he was born, it takes focused effort to keep myself present and working hard for every minute of the work day.

With the fresh start of transferring to a new school this year – an elementary school about twenty minutes from home – I want to be re-focus my efforts to be present and work hard during the school days. I don’t mean to imply that I haven’t been working hard previously; I don’t think anyone would notice this change but me. But I can feel it – the moments when I am pulled toward home and am not giving 100% to my paperwork, my phone call, my meeting. I feel it – and then I feel guilty about it later, and it messes with the time I do have at home. I want to work hard and be fully present at work this year, and I’m excited to have a fresh start opportunity to do it.

Create the routines you need. This summer, my goal was to create routines for the boys that we would follow this school year. It didn’t really happen, and that’s okay. Because it was summertime! That’s the whole thing with summers, and weekends, and vacations – they are not regular days with your typical routines. They’re special. A few weeks after our camping trip, I decided I wasn’t going to worry about building our morning and afternoon routines until school started and I’ve stuck to that.

I’m a good mom, but routines are not my strength, personally or as a parent. I forget about teeth brushing and I don’t always remember to have the boys clean up their messes. This is all okay.

Yet as a professional, I know the value of turning a task into a routine, and it’s something I want to make happen for myself and the boys this year. The problem is, until the school year starts, I’m not sure what the specifics of our morning routine should be. Should the boys get dressed as soon as they wake up? Do we have time for a little free play in the morning? I really don’t know yet – and that’s okay, too. I’m excited to explore the specifics of what our mornings will look like – stay tuned for that. For now, I just want to set an intention that when needed, I will create the routines we need for our family.

Slow down and keep things simple. This has been on my mind a lot as I contemplate our commitments, individually and as a family, this fall. We contemplated signing Edgar up for a sport or activity this fall, but ultimately we decided to wait until winter or spring so that we can all ease into the school year and get adjusted to going places and doing things. There’s also my private counseling practice, which I am trying to simplify for the fall; I often have the feeling I should expand and try to take on more, but when I sit back and reflect, I realize that I really don’t want to find myself overcommitted, overwhelmed, and stressed out this fall. There will be time for building up more clientele and earning more income – but Edgar will only start kindergarten once, and I really want to stay centered on what matters this fall by being a peaceful, playful, and present parent for my kids.

That’s all I’ve got for now. So excited for a mindful + intentional start to a new school year.

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goals

Summer Schedule Intentions

OH MY GOODNESS AM I READY FOR SUMMERTIME! My summer break starts tomorrow, and I could not be more stoked for two months at home with my boys.

This summer feels incredibly special to me. There will be more opportunity to see family and friends than there was last summer, and it’s Edgar’s last summer before starting school. (Yeesh – that is not possible, for sure. Definitely accidentally fell into a time machine.)

When thinking ahead to what I want our summer to look like, I mostly think about the vibe. I want our summer to feel relaxing and fun for all of us. My big picture intentions for the summer are lots of exercise, lots of time outdoors, and lots of creative time for all of us. I’m also excited for lots of time writing (for me), quality time with family and friends, a strong rhythm to our days and new emphasis on routines and rituals, a fierce personal commitment to mindfulness, yoga, and presence after a long year of multi-tasking, and (of course) our super-duper-stress-free summer vibe.

We have two big trips this summer – two Big Rocks, if you like that metaphor. We have a two-week-long camping trip and a week-long beach trip. During the weeks when we’re at home, I’m planning for us to spend lots of time at the pool and on local adventures. Here are a few of my thoughts regarding summer scheduling intentions:

WEEKLY RITUALS

I am definitely a creature of routine. I love spontaneity, for sure. But I find so much joy and peace in a weekly family ritual. Our number one example, currently, is pizza and a movie on Friday nights. This ritual started when I was returning back to work after a year of working remotely. Our screen time rules had gone out the window while I was working from home with the boys with me, and we wanted to cut back on screen time, particularly in the evenings. So we decided – on Friday evenings, we do pizza and a movie. On all another nights, no screen time. Of course, we can break that rule whenever we want, and it feels like a treat for the boys when we do – but we mostly stick to it and it feels good.

I’d like to do a similar thing over the summer with a few other regular activities. My loose ideas so far are:

  • Mondays: making popsicles for the week
  • Tuesdays: library
  • Wednesdays: bake bread and/or muffins
  • Thursdays: summertime cold treat (ice cream or snow cones)
  • Fridays: pizza, movie, family meeting
  • Saturdays AND Sundays: hikes and/or play dates
  • Sundays: farmers market

PLANNING AHEAD

I am not a huge planner; I rarely think ahead about things like the weather. I’d like to try to be more intentional about that over the summer.

First and foremost, I want to be intentional about PLAY DATES! The summer is eight weeks long, but we’re away for several weeks and the time is going to fly by fast. For the past year, it’s been mostly the four of us spending quality time together. I am so excited to be able to safely spend time with friends.

I also want to think ahead regarding things like rainy days, preparing for big trips and de-escalating when we return, and the lead-up to the return to school in September.

RAINY DAY RITUALS

I’m planning to spend as much time as possible at the pool when we’re home in Maryland. For rainy days, I want to work in one or a few activities to break up the day, especially if it’s a day when we’ll be cooped up at home. (Most of these activities are also on the “weekly ritual” list – my goal is to plan ahead and switch things up if there’s a week with one or multiple bad weather days.)

  • Making popsicles.
  • Baking! (Bread, cookies, muffins, protein balls.)
  • Library.
  • Pick a special craft/sensory activity from this list. (Link here!)

ROUTINES + RESPONSIBILITIES

I love routines, in theory, but they’re not my strength in practice. I make resolutions – like, whenever we’re done with a toy or area, we’re going to tidy up before we move on. But in the moment, I often forget or abandon the routine in favor of transitioning to the next thing.

In general, I find that summer is a great time to introduce new routines or responsibilities. This summer, I’d like to focus on a few key routines:

-When we get home, we go inside and unpack our things, every time. This is the kind of routine I often abandon. When we arrive at home, I get the boys out of the car, and they often immediately ask to play outside in the backyard. I say yes, because outdoor play is awesome and putting our things away is not – but I’d like to change this up and make a family habit of taking a little reset before we move into free play mode. With Edgar starting kindergarten in the fall, it’s the perfect time to do this. He’ll come home with a backpack and a folder, and it’ll be good to take a moment to go inside and get organized before we dive into anything else. I also really want to stress that it’s the boys’ job to take care of their things; they’ll need lots of help, especially Jo Jo, but we can start to build that sense of responsibility and the need for organization and care.

We get ourselves ready in the morning. Brush teeth, eat breakfast, get dressed, shoes, socks, and all the rest.

-We tidy as we go. So many things would be easier if we could make this routine stronger! It’ll never be perfect, but it could be a lot better than it is now. The boys’ bedrooms, in particular, get a little crazy

-We tidy after dinner. – the kitchen and the dining room, 100%, and then living room and bedrooms, too. We are semi-okay at this, but we often fall out of the habit after long and tiring work/child care days.

-We help with jobs and chores. I’m still contemplating this, but I don’t think I want to make jobs/chores a daily thing at the moment. I really want to focus on building a strong morning routine. I do want to involve the boys whenever possible if I’m cleaning or trying to accomplish jobs around the house.

KEEPING OUR DAYS CREATIVE + FUN + PLAYFUL

I have felt really impatient with the boys lately. One of my biggest intentions for the summer is to remember my goals of being a playful, peaceful, and present parent. Cheers to days that are silly, playful, creative, engaging, and FUN – and cheers to the days when we lounge and laze about, too. Cheers to all of it.

Recently, I announced (to no one) that I officially claim summer as my favorite season. With all the getting-to-know-you activities that come up at school, the question “what is your favorite season?” actually comes up quite a lot for me. When I was a kid, I always said winter was my favorite. In recent years, it’s been spring. Now it is officially, officially summertime. I am so happy for work-free (almost, since my private practice is still going) days and summer fun.

Happy summer, everyone! Wishing you sunshine and a fun, relaxed vibe all summer long.

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goals

GTDI2021: Connection + Community

It’s been energizing to write and publish posts about my 2021 goals this spring. This will likely be the last post in my Getting Things Done In 2021 (GTDI2021) series, and it’s an important one.

When I started wrapping my brain around the different goals and intentions I wanted to set for myself, I organized them into these separate categories – and ultimately, into a separate blog post for each category.

I started with the Big Five – the five high priority goals I want to achieve this year. Then I set some goals/intentions in the areas of kid routines + rituals, unimportant #mind goals (crossword puzzles and lots o’reading!), and writing.

After these four posts, I found that there were a few things left over that were hard to categorize. There were goals I had related to educating myself, contributing to my community, connecting with family and friends, and other things. They’re not specific, or measurable. But they are important intentions, and I want to make note of them as we creep closer to a return to semi-normalcy.

  1. Be connected. Make play dates with friends and family, and get comfortable with being out and about in the community again. Make phone calls, text, send photos, send packages.
  2. Be informed. Finish reading Do Right By Me and start reading We Want To Do More Than Survive. Either listen to a news podcast (Crooked Media or NPR) every day or check the NPR app every day. I’ve been avoiding social media, which has been HEAVENLY – but I do notice that staying away from Facebook/Instagram sometimes means I’m not in the know about what’s happening in the world. Hoping that the daily podcasts help!
  3. Be of service to others. Stay connected and engaged with SURJ and accountability partners. Attend AA meetings and help others.
  4. Be intentional. Write your intentions for the week every Sunday. (Look out for a post about my new intentions routine soon!)

WHEW. That’s it. That’s all the stuff I want to get done in 2021. Stay tuned for my new monthly goals check-in, when I’ll get real about what’s getting done and (let’s be real) what’s not. Happy spring!

Photo by Linda Eller-Shein on Pexels.com
goals

GTDI2021: Kid Routines + Rituals

I love routines and rituals, but I’m not the best at implementing them. While certain habits are automatic to me – like going for a run every day – many others, like washing my face, are not.

I believe routines and rituals are valuable for kids, so I have to work really hard to implement them for our family. I’ll never be as organized and routine-oriented as some moms are, but I do okay and that’s just fine.

This spring, as I contemplate all kinds of different goals, I’m re-committing to a few kid routines that are important to me and will help our family life run smoother.

-Semi-daily review of our calendars. We have several calendars around the house. The boys each have one in their room – though Jonas’s black cat calendar is hung way up high on the wall so he won’t pull it down and attempt to tear it in shreds! In the kitchen, we have a kid-friendly Melissa and Doug calendar and we have a family wall calendar that we use to keep track of commitments and events. I want to re-commit to reviewing the calendar with the boys on a semi-daily basis – even if it just means ME changing the day, date, or month and talking about it out loud as I do it.

Tidying as we go! When the house is not tidy, it’s not just my job to clean it up. We can all work together to do it. I am pretty good at doing this with the kids, but could be better; occasionally, things get kind of messy, and then it’s harder to tidy as we go, because so much of the mess has accumulated. I want to re-commit to thinking about cleaning up as a family job and as a skill that is valuable and important for the boys. I’d love to be able to truly say, “I don’t clean up after my kids.”

Scheduled time for chores and housecleaning. We are tentatively set on Friday afternoons and Sunday afternoons being times when we have a few jobs we each have to do related to housecleaning.

A more luxurious bedtime routine. Sometimes, it’s 7 p.m., and I am just DONE. I don’t want to read an extra story, and I get really impatient. I want to work on this, because I hate ending the boys’ day with my own crabbiness, right before they fall asleep. I want them to feel relaxed and loved and tucked in. That might mean starting our “couch books” a little earlier in the evening, or just prepping myself for reading a couple of extra books. Anything that helps me stay energized and calm a little later before I crash into my bed!

Encouraging independence whenever we can. Sometimes, we’re great at this, and sometimes I help Edgar get his socks on – which he’s fully capable of doing independently – because he’s cranky. Or because I’m cranky. Or because we’re in a rush, or there’s just a lot going on, and it’s just easier. Which is totally okay! But I do value independence, and so I do want to re-commit to encouraging both of our boys to build their skills.

It’s always good to reflect on things like this and set new intentions for mindful, peaceful, and playful parenting. Onward!

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goals

GTDI2021: Unimportant #Mind Goals

This spring, as I’ve been trying to organize my goals in my head, I was reminded of the original theme for this blog.

When I started the blog, I wanted to write about balance. I referenced the children’s book The Seven Habits Of Happy Kids, specifically a story about a character who loved to read, but often neglected the other areas of her life that she needed for balance. When she read, she took care of her mind – but she needed to do things to take care of her heart, body, and soul, too.

So when my blog first started, I’d write a post about a get-together with family, and I’d label the post with a hashtag – #heart. Or, I’d write a post about a new podcast that was teaching me a lot, and I’d label it #mind – and so on.

I started thinking about the whole heart/soul/mind/body balance thing because I was contemplating a goal related to the New York Times crossword puzzle. We subscribe to the paper and the puzzle, digitally, and I love doing the puzzle – though I often forget to do it, especially if I’m in the middle of a good book. Then one day, my older sister sent me a screenshot of her NY Times puzzle app – she was on a streak of over 40 days! It got me super motivated to start doing the puzzle more regularly. I love crosswords because they’re fun, it’s great brain food, they’re educational (I often learn facts I didn’t know previously), and it’s a good stress relief.

This goal – doing the crossword puzzle more often, and attempting to achieve a substantial streak – would definitely have been fallen into the category of nourishing my #mind. And it’s a great goal. And yet – it’s not that important, and it’s not a priority. I want to challenge myself not to give up on the puzzle so easily. (Usually, if I feel stuck, I click “Reveal Word” and the app will show me the answer to a clue I don’t know.) But if I don’t get on a good streak, or maintain consistent completion of the puzzle? It’s really 100% okay.

When I thought about it more, I realized that I have another 2021 goal that falls into the category of Not That Important – my GoodReads reading challenge. At the beginning of the year, I set an ambitious goal of reading 75 books this year. (Typically, I read around 50 – so this would be a big jump!) When setting this goal, I hoped that it would help me to waste less time scrolling through unimportant things on my phone. Sometimes, I am about to check social media, and I remember that if I want to read 75 books, I need to read at every chance I get – and then I DON’T scroll social media, which is so much better for me personally. But again – does it really matter if I only read 50 books? Not even a little bit. This goal is fun, and beneficial, but unimportant in the big picture.

Here is my list of not-that-important mind goals:

  1. Do the NY Times crossword puzzle daily – aim for a streak of seven days solving the puzzle with zero hints! (Never going to happen, but cannot hurt to try. Last week, I hit 4 days in a row, and I never would have done that if I hadn’t set this goal.)
  2. Read 75 books in 2021. (Currently, I’ve read 26, so I am on track to achieve this goal!)

Cheers to getting things done – the high-priority and the unimportant!

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