Incorporating Habits into Routines

Next week is spring break. Will you rest during spring break? The family literacy teacher asked our class this opening question. The only woman in the room without kids, she was looking forward to a week of sleeping in, unstructured time with family and friends, and relaxing.

IMG_8552All the moms looked at her blankly. This was not a language misunderstanding; this was a life-circumstance disconnect. None of the moms in the room would sleep in or relax. If anything, our routines would be thrown off for the week and we would be filling long days that were usually helped by the school routine.

Normally, I love slow days. Even though we wake up at the same time, regardless of the weekend, weekday, or holiday, having a pajama morning is lovely. Easing into the day is more relaxing and I love the break in routine.

But I also need to go into next week remembering that it takes time to establish a vacation routine, too. That for as much as my kids need and thrive on unstructured play, having an unstructured routine can be stressful.

Lent is almost finished – just over a week until Easter. Every day, I’ve been reading through the book of Exodus, “giving up” some of my precious writing time to dive into the Bible. For the most part, I’ve been consistent, with just a couple make-up days. Now that I’ve established this routine, I’ve been thinking about what I’ll keep in its place.

Because that’s the point, right? Not to simply go back to old habits but to continue living intentionally, using my time wisely, and recognizing the power of habits and routines.

What kind of routine do you thrive on? And, are you able to sleep in on holidays or do you keep getting up at the same time?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “routine.”


Planning Unstructured Time

We had last Friday off of school, the weather was springlike, and Bea had big plans for not doing anything. Her plan for the day went something like this: We weren’t going to get in the car at all, we would play outside as much as possible, we would have a picnic lunch at the park nearby.

IMG_8476I had some cleaning to do so did that while the girls explored our unused backyard. Then we packed sandwiches and snacks, got out bikes and strollers, and headed to the park. We played and ate and made new friends and came home rejuvenated.

It was such a reminder of the importance of unstructured time. Even though Bea had a plan for our day, it included a lot of loose play. When I went to call a friend while the girls were swinging, Bea exclaimed, No! This is just mom, Bea, and Elle time! Just the three girls! No one else!!

She needed focused time and I was glad I could give that to her. There’s a lot about decision fatigue lately. Solutions include wearing a uniform, eating the same thing for breakfast every day, and eliminating all unnecessary choices.

I think it’s funny that we need research to tell us this when all we need to do is look at our kids. Bea knew that, after weeks of structure at school, she needed to rest by having a day of unstructured play. Of course, if every day were filled with unstructured play, the days would be too long and boredom (the unproductive kind) would set in. A little structure is a good thing.

But I can learn so much from my kids about rest and play. When my to-do list seems overwhelming; when life seems overstructured; when I have decision fatigue, maybe I just need to get outside without an agenda, play, and have a picnic.

How do you pause to rejuvenate in the midst of structure? What are ways you find spontaneity?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “tired.”

Filling This Season With Rose-Colored Memories

Some of the most important relationships I’ve formed as a young mom are with women who have children around my own age. My mom, my aunts, mentor moms at MOPS, and other women I’ve met along the way who have helped with advice, perspective, and a listening ear.

IMG_8445One thing I’ve heard from them all is that, while the little years are hard, they never regretted staying home for that season. It’s fast and before you know it, the kids are in school and need you in different, less time-consuming ways. (I typed this last sentence at the same time Elle climbed into my lap. Time-consuming, indeed…)

I know that, by the time I’m a grandma, I’ll look back nostalgically. Maybe these women are looking at life through rose-colored glasses. But I kind of want that. I want to look back at these years with fondness, letting the hard moments fade. I want to look back and know that this was a good choice for our family.

I’ve been thinking about this perspective lately. I feel like it can apply to so many areas and life decisions. What will we look back on without regret? What choices will we make that, when we’re looking back through shiny memory, we’ll smile fondly? I suppose this is like successful businessmen looking back and never regretting saying no to a client and yes to their family, even if it felt like a big decision at the moment.

I just dropped off Elle’s preschool registration for next year. She’ll only be gone two mornings a week but that glimpse into future freedom has me reflecting on how I spend my time. What am I doing with those “free” moments? How will I make choices now that will help me look back on this season without regret, with fond, rose-colored memories?

What about you? What are choices you made (or are making) that will define how you look back on life?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “regret.”

When the World Feels Big

I’m just dipping my toes into the Enneagram, a personality structure. I’m pretty sure I’m a Type One which means Perfectionist or Reformer. One of the strengths of this type is that I’m always looking for ways to make the world a better place. One of its weaknesses is that I have trouble stopping to notice the beauty in the moment.

IMG_8428There are so many studies and books about the importance of daily gratitude. It makes sense that pausing to be grateful is healthy. It changes our perspective and helps to ground us.

I especially need to remember the small moments when the world feels big and overwhelming. In my head, I know that the small daily things are world-changing but my feelings don’t always match up. When I stop and remember the beauty, I remember this important daily work of loving my girls, loving my family, loving my neighbors is really what does change the world. Calling my congresspeople is essential, but it doesn’t trump loving my neighbors.

So today, as we walked to school in 13-degree temperatures, I’m thankful for the opportunity to walk to school every day. We talk with the crossing guards, have gotten to know other kids and parents, and have formed community, even when it would be more comfortable to drive.

IMG_8376I’m thankful for the opportunity to volunteer every week with other moms as they learn English. They’ve taught me so much and I feel much more connected to our school community because of them. I’ve learned about immigration in ways I never could have by reading articles.

I’ve thankful for the flexibility to be at home with Elle during these little years. It’s tiring and boring but it’s also such a gift to follow her lead if we need a pajama day or a museum day or something in between.

Remembering the beauty around me in these small moments gives me the energy to push back against systems that need reform and gives me hope for the future.

How do you reenergize for the strength to be active in your community? How do you pause and recognize beauty in the everyday moments?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “beauty.”

Practicing Active Lament

Right before college finals, I remember thinking, I wish Jesus would just come back tomorrow. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about life and studying. Of course, I still studied and put in the work because that’s not how faith, Jesus’ return, or the imagery of Revelation really work.

IMG_2095I grew up being told that we are the hands and feet of Jesus. Sometimes being a Christian is described as being Jesus with “skin on.”

So when Christians pull out the verses of lament after a tragedy, I often wonder, why? Why are we willing to lament and wish for the return of Jesus if we don’t take the action part of his message seriously?

Jesus didn’t come to this earth to lament. He came to actively bring about a better way. He came to heal and to disrupt and to preach against the comfortable ideas of the time. He was subversive and made people squirm. He wasn’t popular.

My heart hurts with the news – again. I feel at a loss as to how to communicate with my congress whose pockets are lined by the gun lobby. I wish I could take the easy way out and send thoughts, prayers, and wishes that Jesus would come tomorrow.

Instead, I’m putting in the work of redemption. I’m raising kids who question, push back and don’t believe in the status quo. I’m educating myself on laws and the lobbying industry. I’m getting involved in efforts to change the way we do things. Yes, I’m still lamenting and praying. I’m even sending thoughts and prayers for the community reeling from tragedy.

But I’m remembering to DO justice, love kindness, walk humbly, and be the actual hands and feet of Jesus.

How do you practice active lament? How will your prayers move you toward action?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “why.”

The Layers and Nuance of Privlege

I don’t know when I first became aware of my privilege. Maybe it was my first trip to a country of vastly different economic circumstance than my own. Maybe it was the first time I read To Kill a Mockingbird and was confronted by systemic racism. Maybe it was IMG_8331when I started teaching and saw the vast discrepancies between kids whose parents had time and energy at night to read and sit beside them at the homework table. Maybe it was the first time I read about the reality of our prison system and the way we incarcerate.

Privilege has certainly become a loaded word in the recent years. It’s rare to hear someone say, it’s a privilege to visit. I usually hear it in the context of check your privilege or white privilege.

When we started attending our neighborhood school this year, I was hit with our privilege. I saw how incredibly prepared Bea was for kindergarten – from reading together to access to books and art supplies to the fact that we have multiple memberships to museums around our city. She has the background knowledge and supports to excel.

And, while I see her incredible circumstantial privilege, I also feel incredibly grateful that this is our educational experience. Not only is Bea learning academically, she’s learning about cultures and worldviews that we could not teach at home. She’s enthralled with her Muslim friends and empathetic toward kids who are tired from late bedtimes. She asks why some kids need extra help and why others can’t speak English.

I’m shifting my view of privilege again. Yes, we are a family of privilege. There is no doubt about that. But we are also a family who feels privileged to know and interact with our neighbors and classmates. I’m remembering that this word is layered and nuanced and I need to reintroduce the gratefulness of privilege into our outlook.

What feelings do you get when you hear the word privilege? How does your privilege make you grateful? How does it help you see others in a more gentle way?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “privilege.”

Keeping My Dreams in the Small Moments

“The way we spend our days, of course, is how we spend our lives.” Annie Dillard

IMG_8202I have a love-hate relationship with this quote. Mostly, I love it. It’s true: How I spend these days of small moments build into my family’s culture and life. The choices we make with our careers and our spending habits are shaping what we’ll be able to do with our girls in the future.

But sometimes, I think, Really?! I’m spending my days picking up crayons and answering the same question again and again. THIS is how I’m going to spend my life?!?!

I know that when the girls are grown and we’re empty nesters, I’ll still be doing the mundane of laundry and dishes and all those small things. But I don’t want to think about that. I want to think about big things in the future. My 5-year goals don’t include having a tidy house.

There are so many books about embracing the rhythms of our everyday. I just finished Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren and have started Hello Mornings by Kat Lee. Both are about embracing those small holy moments in our days. I need to read these books, to be reminded of the importance of breathing and infusing holy into those quotidian moments.

But I also need to remember not to surrender my dreams to those small moments. That I can get easily mired down in the mundane. How do I keep the big hopes and visions in mind without resenting the small?

God is indeed a God of the everyday. But God is also a God of big, wonderful dreams. Without those, where would humanity be?

Today is my cleaning day. As I tidy and vacuum and run errands, I’ll listen to messages and podcasts about changing the world. I’ll infuse activism into these small moments, remembering a bigger story in the mist of the small work.

How do you keep the big picture in mind without resenting the daily routines? What are ways you infuse hope into the everyday?

Linked with Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is “surrender.”

Books referenced in this post:



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