Scheduling life with white space can be one of the toughest things you can do as a mompreneur. Scheduling life with white space is important though if you want to be productive both professionally and personally.
Until recently, I never even knew what the idea of scheduling life with white space meant. I am so grateful that I was introduced to this life changing movement last year. Thanks to many wonderful people including Emily Ley author of Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy, I truly have a grasp on what balanced scheduling looks like.
For so long, I thought having every single hour scheduled on my Passion Planner (my absolute favorite planner ever) meant that I was being productive. I literally had everything scheduled down to “play with the kids” and “read to Lucy”. I color coded everything and chocked my schedule so full there was not one ounce of wiggle room.
What I was left with was a stressed mind, completely drained body and weakened spirit. I felt like I was never giving 100% to anything. It was like I was only there physically for my kids during play time because my mind was wandering in a thousand different directions. I wasn’t really present. I saw it on my little ones faces when they would ask a question and have to repeat it numerous times because I wasn’t really listening.
At night when I would finally allow myself to somewhat calm down and rest (which usually ended up being around 1 am) I was washed over with mom guilt. That and that alone was what broke me. I felt like I needed to change something drastically and soon. I desperately needed to be present in whatever I was doing.
I began my journey of finding true balance and living in the present through prayer. For me, this is what has always given me comfort when I have felt sad or inadequate. I felt impressed, to follow the recommendation of a friend who gained such clarity from visiting with a professional. For the first time in my life, I made an appointment to see a licensed psychologist. I know this sounds a bit extreme to some.
I have never seen a counselor (since my days of trying to skip class to go talk to them in high school) or professional but I figured that as a mama of three, wife, mompreneur and business owner, that I owed it to myself. I needed to speak to someone who could better understand what I might need to get out of this continuous feeling of inadequacy.
Honestly, that was the best thing I could have ever done. He gave me so many tools to combat the feelings that I struggled with. For me, the biggest was that I wasn’t doing my best as a mama. I cried almost every week (sometimes numerous times) because I worried that I needed to do more and be more for my little lovies.
I should note that now, I understand that while I definitely needed to “unschedule” my life, I was always a good mom. I love my little people more than anything in this world (well, except their daddy, but they are within millimeters to him). I read to them, hugged and kissed on them and played with them everyday. The problem wasn’t in my actions as a mom, it was in my mind and in letting go of an unattainable idea of perfection I had for myself.
If I ever raised my voice at them, I would beat myself up about it for days. We are talking normal mom raising of voice. Nothing of concern but in my mind, the second I did that or that I let my mind wander to work when I was playing with them, I had failed for that day already. It was a tough standard to live by. Clearly, I wasn’t doing very well at it either.
The biggest lesson I learned from my doctor was that I needed to let go of this idealist idea of motherhood I had for myself. Instead, he encouraged me to focus more on giving my spouse my first and best love. I was shocked that this was his suggestion because my sweetheart and I were happier than ever before, or so I thought.
The truth was that while I was so wrapped up in trying to meet this perfect mother status, my partner was left feeling on the outside a little bit. I began pushing that standard on him in saying things like, “We just need to be better, do better and do more as parents”. Any challenge that came up with the kids (back talking, not wanting to listen, etc.) was in my mind, a result of our parenting. Imagine the way he must have felt…
While my hubby never said anything (he is so great at being patient and letting me figure stuff out on my own) I know that I felt overwhelmed so he must have too. As I began following the counsel to focus more on giving my husband my first and best attention, a beautiful thing started to happen. We became comrades in arms! We grew even closer together as we bonded over the fact that we were doing the best we can and that we are great parents. We began to laugh things off more rather then stress that their choice to disobey or talk back was a result of something we had done.
Speaking with my doctor led to greater focus on how better to balance my time and attention. This led me to see that I needed to “let go” more. Just let life happen. I bought the book Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley for myself not long after making these lifestyle changes and it couldn’t have been more divinely inspired. I saw it and instantly felt compelled to purchase.
Within two days I had read the book cover to cover and emailed and messaged Emily on social media pouring my heart out and thanking her for her words (she probably thought I was crazy but thankfully never said it). After reading it myself, I immediately got on Amazon and purchased copies of Grace, Not Perfection for all the women in my life I thought would benefit from it like I did. Friends, neighbors, sisters and cousins, they all got a copy in the mail!
I now read a page or two every morning along with my scriptures which bring me so much peace. I find that starting my day with these books, give me better focus for what truly matters throughout the day. My absolute favorite scripture is Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God.” It reminds me to really slow down and savor the best parts of life and let everything else happen.
Here are some of the other things I did that helped me find better peace in my role as a woman, mother and wife. My hope is that even just one or two will help you as well.
- Start each day in quiet. This can be done in prayer, scripture study, meditation, reading your favorite book or really anything that grounds your soul. Maybe for you, it’s a combination of a couple of those things. For me, it is definitely best that way. I know it’s a challenge after a late night to want to get up 10 minutes before the kids. However, I also know that when I am the most calm and patient, it is because I started my day this way.
- Be present. Truly be present for whatever you are doing. For me, this meant putting my phone away (like in the back bedroom so I wasn’t tempted to check emails and every social media channel) unless I needed to make a call or had dedicated time to work or play on it. I try hard to save this time for naptime and after kids are in bed. It’s still a work in progress…
- This goes in line with being present but, be a good communicator. Give your loved ones eye contact when they talk to you. Take the time to truly listen to what they say and thoughtfully respond. This can be tough as a mom because I swear kids ask about a bazillion questions a day. By the 78th question, the last thing you want to do is answer let alone do it with real focus. The thing is though, if our kids learn early on that we value what they have to say, they will want to talk to us more. This is especially important for when they are teenagers and we need them to communicate what’s going on in their lives with us.
- Love your spouse without abandon. Give him (or her) kisses and hugs throughout the day, not just when you go to sleep at night. Let your kids see you smiling at each other and being a little “gross” with a big kiss on the lips (keep it family friendly here). I grew up watching my dad dance with my mom around the kitchen and tell us, “Isn’t mom so beautiful? I just love her so much”. That has really resonated with me and I felt safe and secure in other areas of my life because I knew they were so happy. Now, that’s not to say they were perfect but they did a really good job at “talking” (having disagreements) in the other room so we didn’t have to stress about it. They were also very quick to apologize if they did talk rude to each other in front of us.
- Make time for special dates. I say that the most important is with your companion because when all is said and done, it’s just going to be you two again. Next, I believe it is really important to have special one-on-one dates with your kids every now and then. Again, I grew up with this tradition and it helped me during hard times immensely. At times, each of my dads (my parents divorced when I was one and since I have been blessed to have two amazing moms and two fantastic dads) would come take me to lunch or out shopping. Even in high school my friends thought it was so sweet that they would check me out to spend this quality time with me. My mom was also amazing at planning girls days for us where she let me pick the restaurant (always Arby’s) and a movie or activity. I remember feeling so blessed to have them even if I didn’t show it.
One of the hardest things for me with my business, was learning to let go. I thought that I and I alone needed to do EVERYTHING. The problem was that this was completely impossible. When I was going through my bluest days, I was so focused on my blog and doing every bit of the work for it myself.
Thankfully, my friend Jessica over at Fantabulosity told me that the best decision she made in regards to that was to hire out some of the things she didn’t like to do. She said this allowed her to have more time to focus on the creation, writing and development of content which is what she truly loved. Since that is exactly what I love about blogging, I knew her words were meant for me.
I absolutely love writing. I always have. Math was like Japanese for me in school but honors English was my favorite class. I wanted to be able to do more of that. I also love cooking and styling so finding a way to do that while also still building my brand and doing the social media stuff that has to be done, was so important. I also wanted to work less so I had more time for the most important people in my life.
I took Jessica’s advice and hired a VA. Shannon of Plus One Virtual Solutions is truly one of them most amazing people and hands down the best addition to my business last year. She is now my brand manager and is one of the first people I talk to about anything that has to do with my business goals, blog, design, etc. I will have her as a part of our team as long as she will stay. We love her!
Another great choice I made last year that helped my brand immensely, while also freeing up some much needed time in my calendar, was hiring Christie of Silently Social. She single handedly showed my that Pinterest could be game changing for driving traffic to my blog and increasing engagement on social media.
In two months, Christie took my Pinterest from just over 8,000 followers to over 10,000 authentic (never purchased) followers. She increased my average daily viewers and impressions by over 132%! She also increased my daily saves by 86%. She did all of the following which TOTALLY freed up time for me to spend with my favorite people.
- Pin in real time each morning and evening from the home feed
- SEO optimize pins for the days new post
- Pin to main board
- Schedule to Tailwind and Add to Tribes
- Schedule pins from tailwind Tribes
- Scheduling top/seasonal posts
After our time together, she was so great to help me better understand how to take the reigns myself or share with my VA to help me in this process of managing Pinterest. I know without a doubt though that without her help, I would still be so lost in how Pinterest can and will benefit your blog or business.
Another thing I did was stop writing so much in my planner. Yep, I let that white space shine! Just like Emily Ley says in her book, margin for what matters. “The battle for our hearts are [sic] fought on the pages of our calendars.“ -Bob Goff
No matter whether you work full time outside of the home, are a full-time mommy, a momprenuer, a blogger or a small business owner, you must find a way to schedule life with white space. Truly let the white space be what you pride yourself in seeing on your calendar because that is where real, lasting memories will be made.
I love you all and wish I could give each of you a hug. I know that I am not alone in my struggles of unattainable motherhood & womanhood because I have discussed this very topic and shed tears with many of you. I hope this helps even in just a small way to show you that you are enough. Just as you are now, you are enough, and one of the best things you can do for yourself and your family is to let go and let be…
“Savor the circus” – Emily Ley
Photography by Tyree Shaw Photography
*This post may contain affiliate links. I was provided with services from Silently Social for review purposes. I truly do think they were game changing in my understanding of Pinterest.