Mapping My Hopes With a Foundation of Flexibility

School started last week for Bea and, while we have another week to go until Elle begins her preschool adventure, I’m enjoying the rhythms that the school year has to offer. This summer was pretty unstructured. Outside of a week at zoo camp, we hung out, went swimming, got on each other’s nerves, and played outside a lot. I think that freedom and boredom are incredibly important to a summer schedule, even if I get overwhelmed with the mess and chaos.

IMG_0487Now that school has started, I’m itching to get back into a productive routine. This first weekend of the school year arrived and I found myself out of sorts and frustrated. I looked back on the week and saw all the things I wanted to do that just didn’t get done. Elle and I went to the zoo but I didn’t write as much as I was hoping; we didn’t clean the playroom; we just kind of hung out.

With Elle starting preschool two mornings a week, I’ve been imagining all of the things I’ll get done with those five extra hours each week. I have big plans! I’m going to practice French and work on a project that kept getting shelved over the summer and really go through the closets for a good purge. Frank and I want to have morning-dates and I want to try to find a workout rhythm. I want to volunteer in Bea’s classroom and go to the art museum regularly. I absolutely recognize that I have more planned than I have space for.

Before preschool begins, I’ve started making lists of my hopes for this year. Things I want to accomplish and rhythms I’d like to create. I’m hoping to map out this time so that it’s not wasted away doing things I could do with Elle around.

But I also want to be intentional about this time with Elle. I’m recognizing that these goals and hopes need to be flexible and fluid. I see how quickly the time passed before Bea started full-time school and I want to savor these moments with Elle.

In her reflections on summer routines and the beginning of a fall schedule, author Addie Zierman says,

“And so I’ve come to accept that this summer, for me, was not supposed to be about being productive, or even really functional. It’s been about being grounded.”

Addie Zierman: Field Notes from the End of Summer

As I plan my fall and our new schedule, I need to remember these words. I have hopes of productivity and I know our routine needs to be functional for our family. But above all, I need to find the ways in which we all stay grounded and rooted. How am I building a schedule that leaves me energized and fulfilled for those days I spend with Elle? How can I feel as productive as possible during my alone time so that the after-school flurry feels more energizing rather than draining?

I have a feeling this will take a good amount of trial-and-error and I need to remember that this is part of building rhythms, as well. What is working? What clearly needs to be fixed? How can I read my family and myself through this shift in seasons?

For now, I’ll keep scribbling my lists and goals as I assess what makes the most sense for us, at this moment.

How do you set goals at the beginning of a new season? How do you tweak your plans along the way?

29 thoughts on “Mapping My Hopes With a Foundation of Flexibility

  1. I find it interesting that even not having children in school for a lot of years that the school/summer schedule still impacts our lives. There is something about its rhythm (I like that description) that is comforting. You have big plans, my friend. And the wisdom to hold them in an open hand.

    1. Motherhood has taught me to hold everything with an open hand… And I kind of love that, no matter our season, the school year signals a new beginning. We need that in the middle of the year, don’t we?

  2. The first week my kids are back in school never goes as planned, and I’m finally starting to learn that (you know, now that they are all in middle and high school). It’s important to be flexible and give yourself grace. The rythm will come.

  3. I have learned to make my plans but then I pray for God to show me what His plans are for my day. When I follow His rhythm, my days moves along smoothly and I get more accomplished. Sometimes, His plans nudge me to make time to visit a friend who is lonely, even we I would love to spend extra time writing. Proverbs 16:9 guides my way because His plans are always better.

    1. Yes! I am learning (and relearning) that plans are good but without an openness and willingness to leave them to God, they become stressful rather than filling. I’m always amazed at how much better life goes when I trust…

  4. I think for me in order to set goals and tweak pans I must be willing to change, be flexible to go where God leads, even in the smallest of details in my life. The more flexible I am, the more grounded in God I can be.

    I love the quote, Annie. Unproductive and unscheduled times make us appreciate the days when productivity and schedules are necessary.

  5. I remember those days – I did the same thing with both of my kids around preschool age. 2 days a week for a few hours. Those hours went WAY faster than I was hoping. I think what’s good to consider is what needs your attention most w/out interruption and that’s a good thing to do while she’s in preschool… OR going to the grocery store is pretty miraculous without a child. I felt guilty doing that for a while – bc it seemed too easy! hahaha.

    I’m in that season of figuring things out again. A new baby is on her way to destroy my schedule. Even though this is my 3rd I still feel like I have no idea how to assess how much I can accomplish. I was sooo productive until the end of pregnancy took me down and I’m longing to get back to that. I guess it will take trial and error again.

    1. Yes, as I’ve mapped my goals I’ve definitely considered the things I could do with Elle and which would be more pleasant alone. While I prefer shopping alone, I also don’t want to use that time for things I could do with her… Always trial and error, right?

  6. When my children were young I bemoaned the overdone structure of the school year and the lack of structure in the summer. I yearned for a bit more in the summer and found the library reading program. We never quite found the balance in the school year. Kids wanted to be involved. So we did it all.

    Enjoy the seasons. They will too soon pass.

  7. Love this reminder to stay grounded and rooted, Annie. It’s so easy to build our own kingdom and agenda, which often crumbles by the way. I’m learning to ask God as Jesus modeled that His kingdom comes into my kingdom. 🙂

  8. I haven’t read you before, Annie Rim. I’m a newbie to your blog. This is a great end of summer post! This was also my summer plan for my children when they were all growing up: “We hung out, went swimming, got on each other’s nerves, and played outside a lot. I think that freedom and boredom are incredibly important to a summer schedule, even if I get overwhelmed with the mess and chaos.” I would also add “bickering” to that list, because by August it surely results as everyone grows ready for school’s routine. But you covered that quite nicely with “got on each other’s nerves.” 🙂

    You’re so right that these experiences are necessary. A child has to learn what to do when left to themselves, when they’re not scheduled or entertained, for life is comprised of these. Life is not a series of Instagram moments, one after another like gorgeous photos. In giving your children this type of parenting you’re preparing them for the day when they’ll have their own freedom, boredom, messes, and chaos. These experiences in their youth ground them for their future adulthood as Addie Zierman’s quote stated so beautifully. And this is good parenting. You’re preparing them well. Good job, Annie Rim!

    1. I’m glad you’re here! 🙂 Oh, the bickering… I had to keep reminding myself that sibling squabbles are an important part of life-long problem-solving skills. (Easier said in hindsight!!) Thank you for your encouragement!

  9. I love setting goals! I’m a list-maker, so I’ve learned I have to sit down every few months and map out my schedule. But I love how you pointed out the beauty in not getting things done. Spending time in relationship with our loved ones is more important than getting that room cleaned! I just love that truth.

    1. I’m learning that God created me to love lists. And to hold them loosely so I don’t miss a bigger plan. Have you read “Made Like Martha” by Katie Reid? It was so encouraging as a list-maker!

  10. Dear Annie

    I also do like this time of the year where the school are beginning a new year.

    If I should give you one tip on how to increase productivity several 100% (not my own advice), then it would be to avoid all kind of Social Media/E-mails the first 6 hours of your day. That’ll free up time to do creative work, which is the most important thing to do for us who write 🙂

    What do you think about that?

    With love!
    Edna Davidsen

    1. I like that idea, Edna! It’s so easy to think that I’ll just “take care of” the emails, etc but really that takes away from precious time. I’ll definitely implement that practice when Elle starts school next week!

  11. Annie, I’m one that loves the idea of list. I get excited with plans that I’ve made. The problem is, no matter my plans and lists or lists of plans I seem to get tossed by the winds and the waves and in the end, those ideas of lists lay tattered on the rocky shore, oh well. Sometimes my greatest memories are of days when my plans have fallen through and chance takes hold.

    Are you planning write 31 days this year? I loved yours last year.

    Best to you,
    Guy

    1. Yes! I’m remembering that often, the best moments are those unplanned. I need this constant reminder…

      I was just thinking about Write 31 and have an idea emerging. 🙂 Hope you’re doing well!

      1. I’ve just been so busy. I haven’t posted or had free time for much other than work and family. I do check your posts and newsletters. Always good for me. Thanks for that.

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