Ever since I wrote my post on finding time to read as a mom, I’ve been thinking about other ways to incorporate and re-discover the things I love.
It’s important to create space for the things that make you come alive, isn’t it? Don’t you find that you flourish better when your roots are watered?
I’m not saying that you can’t find enjoyment and refreshment in duties and to-dos, but I don’t see any reason why our lives can’t be full of those extra things, unique to each of us, that make us feel rested and energized.
If you miss doing all the things you love, I have suggestions for you that will help.
But first, identify what you love.
I believe that description is discovery. So if you take a few minutes to describe what it is, exactly, that you love, you’ll discover what you need to make time for!
Take out your list journal (explained in this post) and ink down a couple dozen things you love. They can be very small, simple pleasures–like these four are for me–or big, soul-nourishing experiences like hiking a mountain. Here’s what a fragment of my list looks like:
- being outdoors
- walking (“over hill, over dale, through bush, through briar, over park, over pale…” I just adore walking!)
- making and eating baked goods
- coloring in my coloring book
- swinging on swings
- reading books
- reading Real Simple magazine
- conversing with my husband or sisters
- playing card/board games while snacking
- playing the piano
- road tips and all manner of travel
After making your list, you might realise that some of your loves are already part of the fabric of your week. Live your week and notice them as they happen, and you’ll already feel a little less deprived, a little more refreshed.
Make time for things by pruning your days.
If the things that you, personally, love to do are rarely making it into your days, then you need to do some pruning, either by deleting activities from your schedule or by consolidating them. Your stage of life determines what that pruning could look like, but here are a few examples:
- Excessive extracurriculars or social gatherings (are you doing duplicates of anything? Pick the favourite activity and take a break from the others)
- Extra grocery shopping tips (go twice a month instead of every week, meal plan so you don’t drive out for extra ingredients, etc.)
- Chores your kids could be doing (if you have children, give them responsibility by delegating tasks to them)
- Unnecessary time in the car (if you take children to activities, can you carpool and trade off with another family?)
- Meal prep (fix a lot of breakfast–or any meal–at once and freeze it)
- Mail sorting (after a daily check for time-sensitive mail, save the rest to deal with all at once at the end of the week)
- Errands (at the start of the week, plan what you need to do and then group errands by location)
Plan for and schedule in what you love.
Even if we wake up in the morning with a rough idea of what we’re going to do, oftentimes we allow the day to pretty much unfold as it pleases. A little intention can help direct our hours and make sure we spend time doing more of what we love.
Let’s say you love reading, and you want more time for it. Don’t hope you’ll find a moment to sit down and read, plan on it. Once you decide to spend an hour reading after supper, you’ll know what you need to do to make that happen. Maybe you have phone calls or emails to respond to that you’ll need to squeeze in earlier in the day. Maybe you’ll need to wash some meal prep dishes before supper, so afterwards you can get started with your evening sooner.
Another way to plan for things you love is to turn these activities into recurring rituals. You’ll find that you have more time for them, because you unconsciously alter your habits to allow them space. For instance, if you love to do crafting and you decide that Sunday afternoons will be your craft time, you’ll begin to make adjustments to your week to allow that to happen. Maybe you’ll prep some food on Saturday so that Sunday dinner doesn’t take as long to cook and clean up. Prehaps you’ll implement a routine for your kids so that they’re accustomed to playing and resting quietly on Sunday afternoons. Maybe you’ll find ways to make your craft supplies easier to access so it’s not a chore to get them out. Regardless of the activity, if you can turn it into a regular ritual it will have more weight and permanence in your schedule.
If you want to make more time for the big, eventful things you love, like vacations or retreats, you’ll need to take the whole calendar into consideration. Talk to your husband if you’re married, because he can be your ally in making these things happen. Plan your year’s activities around the trip; don’t schedule for those weeks.
Use your time wisely.
I think we allow ourselves too much latitude to complain because complaining is culturally acceptable. Until you’ve learned to use your time as judiciously as possible, (which will probably never happen, at least for me!) don’t complain about not having enough time.
Work on being productive in the space you’ve allotted for each duty. Like the poem I love says, “work while you work.” When it’s time to do housework, buckle down and get it done! When it’s time to answer emails, clip through it and close out other distractions! You don’t have to be hasty and sloppy, but a few spurts of energized work can help create that buffer time you need for doing the things you love.
Take advantage of surprises.
You can plan all you like, but if you neglect to seize spontaneity then you’re missing out on valuable (and frequent) opportunities to do what you love. If you pay attention, you’ll find many snatches of time throughout your week when you can do something “extra,” if you’re ready.
So you want more time for reading? Bring a book with you wherever you go, so you always have something to read if you get a moment. What to paint your nails more often? Keep that polish easy to access, and you can take advantage of those twenty minutes while your casserole bakes. Do you love picnics? Keep a picnic basket stocked and ready with essentials like plates and napkins and a tablecloth. Wish you had more time to sit and enjoy a pretty day? Buy a hammock or put rocking chairs on your porch with a quilt nearby, so you’ll be prepared when the weather beckons.
A lot of times we don’t take advantage of surprise opportunities because we’re too lazy, the materials aren’t on hand, or we’re just not primed to act upon them.
And finally, find out what they love.
You know how life-giving it can be to do the things you love…so bless your family with that same joy! Study your family and know them well. You’ll learn what’s important to them, and you can give them the time and space they need to do the things they love.
Another good post to read on this subject: