In this week’s episode, I’m sharing the story of how I went from waffling between feeling bored and overwhelmed to confidently navigating my days and enjoying motherhood by creating the Thriving in Motherhood Planner.
During my first two years of motherhood, I felt completely lost and bored and struggled to make it through each day as I felt guilty for all the things I should be doing but wasn’t. I had also reached the place of desperate determination to figure out who I was and what motherhood would look like for my family and me. I decided the next logical step was to get a planner.
In college, I lived in my Franklin Covey two-pages-a-day planner to manage my classes, the job that paid my way through, and our newlywed days of marriage. But when I became a mom, I hardly used it. Sometimes I would sit down and declare, “Today is the day I will get organized and start planning again!” But it was so discouraging to quickly see those plans derailed because of a baby’s nap going too long or short. Even worse were the days when I had nothing to write down, and I’d wonder what the point of planning was.
So then I tried writing to-do lists, but I would feel completely overwhelmed because it never ended, and I would run myself into the ground trying to get things checked off my ever-growing list. But as I lay in bed during my four-month recovery from an illness I contracted at the hospital when delivering my second child, I knew I needed a way to capture all the ideas I had of things I wanted to do for our family or with our kids. I needed a place that would help me discover who I was and what I wanted and actually make progress on those things in the small pockets of time I had through the day.
I knew that even with my young family, there WAS time, I just spent those precious moments of independent play or surprise naps wandering around the house or checking my phone, trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and then the moment had passed.
And then there were all the household management things that did need to be organized. For example, what we were having for dinner each night, so I wasn’t panicking with the kids when we were all starving. Random phone numbers for returning calls about paying bills, making doctor’s appointments, or talking with insurance companies. I was jotting down notes about whatever was filling my brain so I could stop thinking about it and be present with my kids.
I am grateful for the hours I spent listening to podcasts while doing laundry in those early years. A particular favorite was Michael Hyatt’s (now retired) show This is Your Life, where he taught business executives goal-setting and productivity principles.
With the well of research about how our brains actually manage ideas and get things done and not finding a single planner out there that was truly designed for the real life of motherhood – lots of interruptions, stopping and starting, and inconsistent schedules – I decided to grab a notebook and design one for myself.
First, I needed a home for my thoughts. A place for ideas and dreams I didn’t want to commit to, but I didn’t want to forget. A place to create a vision for my year. A place to write out my goals and projects that would make my vision for the year.
Then I needed a system that would allow me to easily revisit those ideas, visions, projects, and goals regularly and decide what was most important to focus on now and what to not think about for a while longer so that I could quiet the never-ending to-do lists and be present with my kids.
I needed a system that broke down those big ideas into realistic baby steps I could take each week to make things happen in small pockets of time that didn’t need to be rewritten or rescheduled because of the unpredictability of life with children so I wouldn’t get discouraged and give up.
I needed a system with built-in check-ins to help me evaluate what season of life I was in and what needed to have my attention so that I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed by trying to do it all. I could trust that I could pick up wherever I left off if we ended up in survival circumstances.
I needed a system that built in celebrating and a way to see that I was making progress so that I could build energy and momentum to move my life forward.
I spent three years creating that perfect system in the quiet moments of my day, figuring out how to organize my budding vision for motherhood and make it a reality. And that system is now the Thriving in Motherhood Planner.
For all the details, check out this week’s episode of the podcast – or watch the video version on youtube (and subscribe to get the video every week!)