Last week over 1,000 of you answered the first blog survey I’ve ever hosted on this blog.
I had to cut it off after 1,000 because whoa – a LOT of information. I now have over 150 pages of data, charts and fascinating information about you guys.
For example, 98.99% of people who read here are women. No big surprise there :)
But I was so interested to learn that while 41% of you guys are full time stay home mamas, 50.6% of you guys work – either full time, part time, from home or out of the home – in addition to being a mama.
Most of us have kids in the preschool, elementary and middle school ages and we are TIRED with the highest source of stress by far being the fact that we are “parenting very young kids.”
Some of my favorite answers were to the question: “If you could have tea with Lisa-Jo what is one thing you’d like to ask her?”
I can’t begin to describe what a delight it was to read your answers. I really do feel like we just sat down and caught up over a cuppa.
One of the recurring questions I heard was how on earth I continue to find content to write about after seven years of blogging. That made me chuckle because I often wonder the same thing and it’s one of the reasons I wanted to do the survey, to get a sense from you guys what topics you’d be interested to hear me write about – in the hopes it would inspire me. And it has, there were SO many great suggestions I’ll be working through and using as ideas to kick start new topics we all are interested in.
It was also helpful to learn what you’d like me to write less about. A lot of you were so kind and said, “nothing – we love it all.” But some gave super helpful feedback about areas you feel I’ve sort of written on repeat for years now – for example, how there is nothing “small” about motherhood. Truth is, I have started to feel pretty repetitive on that topic myself. However, a whopping 61% of you still rank these as some of your favorite posts.
I’m growing out of the “new mom” years myself and more into the comfortable second skin of motherhood and my writing will likely lean more into those stories as well as into the areas that sometimes aren’t all motherhood, all the time.
Thank you for the generous suggestions for ideas and inspiration – you have flat out inspired me.
A close second was the question – how? How do I find time to write in between kids and my full time job with (in)courage and writing books and trying to keep my house in a semi-clean state.
So I thought today was the perfect day to give you a sense of the how.
Because it’s spring break and all three kids are around while I still have a full time job to do and at the same time I want to feel like we’ve had a great week together as a family, refreshing and refueling.
So, here’s a little glimpse into how I create time to come and share stories with you all on the blog:
Both the boys are in public school and Zoe goes to preschool three times a week. So, in between my work commitments there’s always time on my “lunch hour” to plan for the blog and get some writing done. And because part of my job is living in this online world, I have the amazing privilege of getting to do for a living what I love.
On the two days a week Zoe’s home, we have a nanny who’s been with us since before Zoe turned one and she plays doll house and bakes cookies and does arts and crafts with Zoe while I work downstairs in the study. I always joke that between us we’d make the perfect woman, since she loves to bake and keep house, and I love to tell long stories and host kid dance parties.
Late at night after the kids are finally in bed after the tenth “just one last glass of water” I am pretty much always back on my computer. I write or I jot down notes for a post or I plan Facebook updates or I catch up on reading the other bloggers who inspire me. Or I grab a book and let someone else’s beautiful words fill me up.
During the day, I keep pretty regular work hours and get up and get dressed every day because after nearly five years of working from home I know that I need to feel put together in order to keep it together – I call it how to work from home without losing your mind (photos from our first rental house when I worked in the corner of our very chaotic play room).
But some days nothing goes according to plan and you end up with half the neighborhood playing basketball in your driveway, your daughter camped out at your feet and deadlines that still need to be met (those pages on the floor are a book I need to finish reading to write an endorsement).
Because while half of spring break we’ll be on vacation and visiting friends at our favorite farm house in PA, the first part of the week I had to set up playdates for the kids and compromises with my husband so that the kids are supervised and we’re still getting all our work done.
Days like that are messy and pretty stressful, I’ll just be honest about it.
But I’ve learned what to let go in order to make it work.
The thing is, I like a clean and tidy house but I’m not obsessive about it.
Sometimes keeping kids happy and getting work I love done means that the house and the yard both look like a bomb went off in them by the end of the day. I’m learning to just grit my teeth and go with it. Not to micro-manage the boys and their loudness and dirtiness and messiness.
I’m OK with letting the laundry sit unfolded come 9pm at night so that I can unwind with a good movie or book.
Reading your survey comments I think you all think I’m much more disciplined than I actually am. I will always choose a good flick over finishing all the dishes. And a certain degree of mess in order to let kids entertain themselves while I focus on writing.
And the thing is I really REALLY love movies. I don’t think I can overemphasize this.
Also, I do not like to cook. And I am not good at it. I’ve made my peace with that. There are other things I’m great at and I lean into those things. I’m learning, in the words of Elsa when it comes to a whole lotta stuff, just to “let it go.”
I make my kids help with everything. Seriously, they are in charge of their own bedroom and bathroom mess and putting away their laundry. This is not always a perfect system but it helps take all the onus off me.
And on days when I’m wigging out about the state of the living room, one of my kids will inevitably tell me, “mom you’re focusing on the small things instead of the big things.”
It’s become a key expression in our home.
The big things are that we had a great family day, work and play both got done and for the most part we didn’t fight.
The small things are that the house is messy.
Don’t get mad about the small things, mom.
Like the fact that this blog post has now taken me well over six hours what with all the million interruptions. In between paragraphs I’ve taken the kids out to Panera – one of them had a full blown meltdown and refused to eat any of the items I’d ordered. Several neighbor kids have arrived to play basketball with the big boys outside. Toy cars have been demolished ala scrap yard style on the front steps and I’ve been feeding kids in shifts.
It is not a perfect system.
I don’t have a Pottery Barn style office space or hours of free time. I have more mess and more noise than I often wish I had. But in the midst of it all I just keep on stealing pockets of time for this blog and learning to embrace my kids and the steady hum of chaos they add to our lives instead of freaking out because I can’t always control all. the. things.
And reminding myself of the big things: I save lives daily. I’m a mom.
I’ve got lots more thoughts that I think will morph into future blog posts based on your questions:
About boundaries for online time – both for the grown ups and the kids in the house.
About how perfectionism kills the joy of parenting.
About how we’ve wrestled with our faith the deeper we’ve gone into this parenting journey because there are often more questions than we have answers to and more fear of what might happen to these precious bits of our souls than sometimes I feel brave enough to believe through.
About how I really can’t stand “playing dress up or doll house” and how and why I’m doing it anyway.
And maybe about how to subscribe for my “Behind the Blog” newsletter – which many of you asked about – just enter your email into the subscribe box in my side bar and boom, you’re done!
Yea, you all have given me plenty of ideas for plenty more to say on this blog as long as God calls me to keep sharing.
I’ll close there – with the reminder that it has to be a calling in order to keep doing it. To keep showing up and being vulnerable. Because some days – more days than I like really – blogging brings with it paralyzing fear and sense of inadequacy, self doubt and stage fright.
On those days I simply ignore all the voices screaming in my head to give up and give in and I just write. Because love is always louder than fear and it is my honor to show up here and love you guys.
Thank you for how you love me back.
OK, and now the two randomly selected survey folk who won the 2 stacks of books off my very own book shelves are:
Winner of stack #1: Survey response 914 – Klknaack
Winner of book stack #2: Survey response 648 – RachJoyrn
Emails are headed your way!