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My lengthy absence here was unplanned. I kept thinking every day that I’d record a few snatches of our waking hours but full days melted into tired nights and I said “maybe tomorrow”, once again. And that 52 project? Don’t ask. I’m behind. Way behind. But I’m starting again this week for two reasons.

1. I can.
2. I need to.

I see His gifts of grace so clearly through the lens. Kneeling in cracker crumbs craning for the right angle, this kitchen floor becomes an altar, and I worship. It’s oxygen when one of those days becomes one of those weeks. It was a too-long, too-familiar string of them that jarred me.  I’m a self-professed lover of lists. As much as I love lists, I love tidy rows of check-marks even more. Too much. Way too much. I’m not sure how it happened really, but the lists loomed and I lost my way. Again. Failure. Defeat.

One night, I crawled into bed and cast a long look back at a day unfurled, and somehow unfinished. I wasn’t slothful. I wasn’t slow. Quite the contrary, in fact. I had a host of check marks to back me up.  But while the boxes on my list were full, the hours were empty. How could it be? Day after day, I allowed the “urgent” to crowd out the important. And the truth of the matter is, no matter how many urgent things I accomplish, if important things are left undone – truly important things –  the day unravels. So when I recognized the scenery for what it was, I began the journey back toward intentional mothering by His grace. But how?

1. I made a list. (Shocking, isn’t it?) Don’t judge. It was an altogether different sort of list. I listed the things that make a day inside these walls full. Vibrant. Alive. Have you done this? It’s eye-opening, I tell you. It included a host of seemingly smallish things that when heaped together, build mountains of memories. Things like…
good books read aloud over breakfast and lunch,
sharpened color pencils and paper at the kitchen table,
letting her take a bubble bath at 3:00 in the afternoon just because,
unhurried time to explore the backyard,
game night with finger food,
girl time for us to create beautiful (and sometimes not so…) during his afternoon nap.

You get the idea. I’m learning that if these things are done but there are four loads of clean laundry still piled on the bed, it really was a good day. A full day. Not wasted.

2. I’m starting to simplify. What is currently underway here just might go down in the history books as The Great Purge of 2013. I’m not done. I’m not even close to done. But already, we are reaping the benefits. Less stuff equals more time. I’m slow to learn this, but I’m really beginning to believe it.

3. I’m SLOWLY adjusting the rhythm our days. Preschoolers thrive on routine. This is not a secret. I’m not so good with routines. This too is not a secret. But I’m learning. I haven’t tried to overhaul our entire day at once. I pinpointed one or two critical (i.e. everyone’s coming unglued) times of the day and started working on those first. The fruit of these efforts encourages me to press on.

4. I’m planning to play. This might be the hardest one for me. The bottom line is that if I decide I’m not going to play until the house is clean, the clothes are clean, the children are clean, I’m clean, and dinner is ready (and cleaned up), I will never play. There is ALWAYS one more thing to do.  Always. So I have to make play a priority. A top priority. It’s not frivolous. It’s not time squandered. It shouts “I love you!” to my children. It requires more than physical presence. It’s how we connect. It’s one way I can serve them. Of course, we have plenty of unstructured, child-directed play going on throughout the day, which I’m not always a part of, but I also want to sow seeds that nurture curiosity and creativity. We’re embarking on our second week of “play plans” here, and falling into a new daily rhythm that feels beautiful and right.

Lately, been I’ve gathering a varied collection of adventures, indoors and out, to share with my five-year-old. The goal is one activity a day (Monday through Friday). Planning ahead helps to ensure that we have the time, resources, and appropriate weather. I thought it would be fun to share them with you, as well.  On Fridays (so you have time to plan ahead) I’ll post plans for the following week. All of the activities are things you should be able to do at home, and many of the materials you probably already have on hand. I’ll also include a supply list and post each weeks plans by Friday so you’ll have the weekend to gather any necessary supplies, check the weather, etc.. I have planned these with my five-year-old in mind but many of them are perfect for older children and easily adapted for younger ones. I’ll also share what we’re reading aloud as a family and a few other fun things.

See you tomorrow…