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January 26, 2016

Weekends & Weekly Planning | Making it all work

This same week last year, we were at Disney World.  I haven't shared the photos yet, so I thought I would include some in this post along with some other favorite trips this past year... it is also reminding me that I still need to make our disney photo book.  A perfect segway...

Weekends & Weekly Intentional Planning

Last week, I had coffee with a friend and we talked about what we're trying to do different in the new year.  During our conversation, I think I used "flailing" 35 times.

"I feel like I'm flailing at work, then I fly to pick up Emma at school, and we're flailing at the grocery store, rushing through errands and throwing together dinner."

My goal is to do less flailing.  Too often I feel like I am short on work time, so I am rushing through my day responding to emails, ordering product, writing posts, jumping on calls, forgetting things, "multitasking" to the max and generally flailing about.  I'm sure many of you can relate.

The funny thing is, is that I love my work day.  I love sitting down to the buzz of an active business (I use that term loosely!) - I find it exhilarating.  So much so, that my brain seems to work extra fast and I put my blinders on for 5 hours and work at an intense clip... and then my afternoon alarm goes off.  I stumble out to my car in sort of a haze as I re-enter the real world again.  It is a good sign - it means I love what I do.  But, it also exhausts (!!!) me.  Majorly.

As I drive to pick up Emma, I take that 5 whole minutes to decompress and re-center.  It is always my goal to be in complete Mom-mode by the time I get there (a lot to ask in a short 5 minutes) - and then I'm on to thinking about dinner, running errands, playdates, house work, etc.

The problem with this scenario, is that I don't have much creative energy left at the end of the day/week.   I always envisioned my after school time with Emma spent baking chocolate chip cookies, or creating forts and playing.  Yes, it does happen, but just not as often as I'd like.  A majority of the time we crash on the sofa for an hour to decompress (honesty!).

Instead of weekends filled with cooking, organizing (which I consider fun...), working on projects or exploring, we just lounge.  Lounging is totally fine and healing, but after a bit I would rather be doing something fun, than nothing at all... just the way I'm wired.

While I love my job and consider it a privilege to spend my days working creatively, sometimes I feel like (honesty here!) our family life and home life doesn't get the same amount of thoughtful, creative energy.  I just don't want to give my family what's left over at the end of the day/week, I want to make sure I'm conserving enough brain space to give them my best self after school and on the weekends.

At this point, you all might be thinking, "Um, Jenny, we see a lot of photos of quality family time on this blog."  And yes, we do have quite a bit, just not as much as I'd like.  And maybe more than that,  I'd like to have more energy to be 100% present in those moments.  That is something that I think I'm not as good at managing.

So... I'm making an effort to plan time for the down time and make it creative time and relaxed, pressure-free time with activities that I love to do (with and without family help!) - things that fuel my creativity and get me excited.  In order for that to happen, not only do I need to plan for managing a realistic workload during the week (so I don't get too burned out), but also scheduling time that is just for fun and errands, so fun doesn't take a back seat.

Here are some ways I've been thinking about prioritizing.
  • I need to plan for a work week that I can realistically manage in the time I have allotted for work... which means, getting someone to help and staying organized!
  • I need to plan for fun free time with Emma.  This means planning to have time for crafting, building, impromptu picnics, playdates, ice cream stops, exploring, etc.  
  • I need to plan for more fun and creative projects for myself - gardening, workouts, art, antiquing, decorating, cooking.  Me Time to clear my head and lighten my load is a priority.
  • I need to use my weekend free time more wisely to lessen the flailing that happens during the week, including meal planning, grocery shopping, etc.  
  • I need to allow myself to time to decompress without feeling guilty.
  • I need to walk every morning to clear my head - it makes my entire day better.
Here is the time table I made that gives me a visual of how my time is spent.

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
6am - 8am Walk & Coffee Yoga Walk & Coffee Tennis Walk & Coffee Walk & Coffee Walk & Coffee
8am - Noon Work Work Work Work Emma Ballet & Lunch with Girls Emma & Me Time = Mike Golf Church & Brunch
Noon - 2pm Work Work Work Lunch Date with Emma Emma & Me Time Emma & Mike Time Errands
2pm - 6pm Emma & Me Time Emma & Me Time Emma & Me Time Emma & Me Fun Time Emma & Me Time Fun Project Time House Keeping, Laundry
6pm - 8pm Dinner at Home Dinner at Home My Free Night Mike’s Free Night Dinner Out - Date Night Easy Dinner at Home Dinner at Home
8pm - 10pm Jenny & Mike Time Jenny & Mike Time Dinner & Drinks with Girls Jenny & Mike Time Jenny & Mike Time Jenny & Mike Time Jenny & Mike Time

Feel Good Time Emma & Me Time Emma & Mike Time = My Free Time Work Time Family Time at Home Family Out & About Jenny & Mike Time

By the way, I already missed my yoga class this morning... so, don't think I'm a pro at this, at all.

Putting this together really help my visualize how I spend my time.  It helped me "see" times that were available for being more productive and recovery/down time.  It also allowed me to officially schedule "My Free Night" which had happened more like every two weeks, or once a month.  Now that I'm scheduling it weekly, I can more proactively look forward to planning it - a manicure, dinner with friends, a j.crew stop, or working at Starbucks (sometimes a little more time to work is the only thing I need... especially when I'm doing fun things like looking for new products!).  Putting it on the calendar makes it more likely to happen.

Also scheduling "Emma and Me" time helps me to visualize that time and plan for some activities, instead of just down time.  Of course, we all need down time and I make a big effort not to over schedule Emma - at all.  Most of our time together is spent at home piddling and playing - which is great and has helped her become an independent player.  Now, I'm making an effort to do some of the fun things with her (like build a lemonade stand, or market checkout...) that I've always thought, "we'll do that when we have more time."

**Update : A couple of you noticed that I didn't have Mike & Jenny Time scheduled - so, I updated the Friday night from Dinner Out to "Date Night."  We try to do date nights once a week.  The evenings are ours, too.  We are actually going away together this weekend - which, we don't do often enough!

In the past 5 years since Mike and I were married, my life has multiplied threefold... becoming a parent, busier job, bigger house to manage, but I haven't taken any real steps to help organize it and manage it.  I just always thought "if I had a little more time..."  Now, I'm actively making more time to make it all work better.  Of course, I'm hoping the result of all of this thinking and planning will help us to feel like we have more quality time together.  That's all we really want, right?  Less exhaustion and more time and energy for enjoying each other.

I'm also going to give myself some permission to not get it all done.  However, I'm hoping that I'll be better at prioritizing what doesn't get done without sacrificing special family time... or my sanity.  If something doesn't get done, I hope it is the house being spotless or the laundry being folded that gets the shaft : )

Are any of you feeling the same way?   I have to tell you - just giving myself time to think about it has helped tremendously.  How are you all making it all work?


  1. I absolutely love the idea of laying the week out like this. I'm in a similar position- I work part-time, mostly from home, so I have my kids with me from 3-6 each afternoon. If I'm not careful, I'll get to the end of the day and feel like I haven't done a single thing to benefit any of us! I've started making a list of three things each day I know I'd feel great about having done when I go to sleep. Often it is organizing something (because that's life giving to me) but other times it's just "tend the garden" or "read the Bible together"-- very easy, but intentional actions, so I know I didn't waste that time away :)

    1. I love the idea of making your 'to-do list' that way each night. When I write something down, it really does help me accomplish it! Great idea.

  2. Thank you, Jenny for this post! I also work part time 4 days a week (though, out of the house) and I so often find myself on the couch with my toddler after work/school. I've thought before, I might as well be working full time if our 'quality time' together in the afternoon is going to be spent with Curious George! This post has motivated me to plan for and prioritize more quality time for myself and with my family.

    1. Exactly! : ) I'm not afraid to turn the tv on to have some time to make dinner, though... sometimes we just need 20 minutes to ourselves!

  3. Thank you for being honest! I also work out of the house and find it incredibly difficult to separate out time for myself without feeling guilty. When you never leave your work place, there is definitely added pressure. Couple that with all the hats we wear anyway (mom, wife, boss, etc) it can be completely over whelming at times, or most of the time. I love your idea of allowing yourself to be ok with not being perfect!

    1. I also find that my only "hobby" has become work... oops! ; )

    2. I've had a couple of deadlines hit right at the holidays (it was horrible). When I explained to my 8 year old that, when project X is done I can be "fun mom" again, she broke my heart with her response, "I miss fun mom, I can remember what she's like"... Talk about a wake up call! Now my deadline passed, and I've had a week of recuperation, I feel brand new! And ready to be present in all ways for my family. My husband commented, just a weekend after my due date, with "you can already tell a big difference in your happiness." Obviously, I need to figure out how to balance working again with family and household duties. I have been a stay-at-home mom until recently... Lots to learn.

  4. Great post. With so many tasks to do, it ALWAYS feel overwhelming to me and I feel like I NEVER get everything done. Thank you for putting a clear perspective out there on this. Though I try to be organized, it often falls apart. Lately I too have thought that I actually need to literally put catagories together like you have done and try to stick to that. I'm also looking forward to next school year when both of my children will be in school until 3:30. Right now I pick up my youngest at 12:30 and have to go back at 3:30. I'm trying to start up a home business as well and the lack of concentrated time and the constant starting and stopping is killing me. I'm envious of your 5 solid hours. I think your idea of scheduling some exercise before the day starts is very smart. I do that and it helps. I also like another commenters idea of making a list of three things the night before that you want to accomplish the next day. Thanks again for the post! Now, my only question: when is your time with just Mike??

    1. Ha! I'm glad you mentioned... I've updated! I should have been more specific about "Dinner Out".

      Good luck with your new business - it is a crazy fun world :)

  5. Such a great way to start 2016! Good for you for being intentional and prioritizing! I believe it's Stephen Covey who says you can tell a lot about what you put first by looking at one's schedule. Looks like you've got a lot of important Mommy/family/you time in there!

  6. Anonymous2:54 PM

    Love the idea of a schedule...and love the wedding pic you posted...which leads me to one thought...make sure to schedule "Jenny & Mike time" without Emma as well! I think it's just as important to spend quality alone time with your husband as with your children :)

    1. Yes, I noticed that, too! You can see I've updated Dinner Out to Date Night ; ) I should have been more clear.

  7. I love this little honest glimpse you're given us of real life. This is part of why I love reading your blog. At the end of 2015 I felt similarly although I don't work outside our home I am involved in different ministries at our church. We've hired a housekeeper for once a month to take on the bulk of the cleaning...maintaining I can do :) also we bought an electric pressure cooker which is perfect for his stage of life with two little ones under 4. I've hired a babysitter for one morning a week, I try to get up before our daughters to get some of my stuff out of the way before they wake and we do a monthly meal plan. I love to cook and always felt planning a month at a time would be constricting but again it's proved helpful in this stage of life. My husband is all for outsourcing what we can afford to in order to be more present with our girls and have more time as a family:)

  8. Great post, Jenny! Someone asked me how I manage it all recently on Instagram, I wish I could say as well as this. I'm afraid there is a lot of winging it happening over here. It actually gets tougher the older my boys get. Up at 6:30 to get A fed, lunch packed and off to school, then C by 7:00 and walk him to school. After a workout around 9:30-10:30 and a quick errand I'm cramming work in until it's pick up time at 3:00. After school is filled with homework and activities till bedtime. I recently started skipping work outs one weekday so I could at least have one solid 7 hour stretch of work once a week and it has made a huge difference. Good luck with your new plan!! xx

  9. It's great that you have a timetable. With a little one it's easy to be overwhelmed and unorganized. I need to get more efficient with my time. This was great inspiration.

  10. Anonymous4:35 PM

    I would like to plan my week as well!

  11. I looooove this, Jenny! I *try* to do my meal planning and weekly schedule on Sundays, but I love that you've mapped out a more broad timetable for the week and I am so inspired by you to do the same! Many years ago (many, many...) I saw Madonna interviewed on Larry King Live. Somebody called in to ask her about fitness and how she maintains her physique, her answer was "I lead a highly scheduled life" That response has always stuck with me as it really applies to so many areas in life. As always, thank you for sharing and inspiring:)

  12. You're so wonderful to put this out there! Everyone could be better about prioritizing time, and furthermore--types of time, better! Myself included ;) Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I love the idea of visualizing it with blocks of time. Doing that will help me figure out how I need to prioritize better. I also work part time, got married 5 years ago, and have moved to a larger house with two kids. It is nuts how these changes cause you to constantly reassess everything! Worth it as the changes are, sometimes it is easy to forget that as your life changes, your routines have to change as well :D


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