I want talk about the wisdom of Michelle Obama. “You have to plan you joy,” these words spoke to my soul and I hope it does to yours too. My time is often eaten up by obligations, duties, and expectations. Weekends falling victim to “to-do” lists and events. And before I can blink the year is done and I have done so many things for other people, groups, and associations but I haven’t spared a second for myself. I have failed to give myself time to nurture, nourish, and grow my own passion projects, interests or even my own self-care.
This year I tried something new, I scheduled monthly meetings with my long-distance friends. Those circles and people that I don’t see often but miss and want in my life. Here we are in December and I have rarely missed or re-scheduled these events simply because in January they were the first things I put onto my calendar. Seeing success with these endeavors I am going to apply this strategy to some other areas of my life. I am going to take this experience and Michelle Obama’s wisdom and use them both to enhance and improve my own life. I’m sharing my roadmap so you can too!
Planning my joy – I’m going to break this down into smaller bites.
Time for myself – These are what Julia Cameron calls “Artist Dates.” Dates that you don’t share with anyone else. You don’t take your kids or partner, you don’t turn it into errand running or a task. It is simply time just for yourself to have fun. The time is designed to spark your creativity and feed your inner artist. Naturally I am going to start by scheduling a couple hours at least once a week to do something that I am excited about and that interests me and this is just for me, a special treat, an experience that feeds my soul and fuels my creativity. I am starting with a class, open studio, something structured otherwise I procrastinate!
Partner Quality Time – Date-night is Thursdays at our house. I’m on the hunt for a babysitter to make these nights more special and meaningful for my partner and myself. We each need a night off dinner duty and a break from the monotony of routine. I have these dates on our calendar and they are refueling our relationship. Making time to get out and try something new together breathes new life into our union.
Kiddos – Once a week dates with each kid. This may be as simple as completing a craft together. But I often find that when I am in the midst of chaos my children will come to me with a fairly large request – “Will you help me make a quilt?” And while I would love to do this if I had the time, I am often in the middle of preparing a family meal or about to hop in the shower when this request comes in. So I’m carving out time for each child where we can read, go on a walk, or have a picnic lunch and go to the park. Now I can enjoy making beautiful memories with my children while they still want to spend time with me. And hopefully we’ll make it a habit that they never out-grow.
Family time – I’m starting with a once a month family adventure. I find that the memories I enjoy most are when we go somewhere new as a family and try something different. Just a day trip to somewhere nearby is all it takes to inspire us and bring us closer together. We play and learn together and because the experience is new to all of us, no one is bored, and no one is in charge. We are all on this adventure together and that’s the part that is most thrilling. My goal is also to share responsibility for this time – each person gets a month to choose what our activity will be. This will hopefully democratize the process so we don’t end up only going where one person wants and everyone gets an opportunity to pitch in and share a topic, place, or adventure that they want to try. I will let you know how this goes!
Time with Friends – I always love time with friends but I rarely plan it into my schedule. Therefore, I am adding a night out with friends monthly. Perhaps one date a month is a double date night. Or meeting a friend on their back porch for cocktails and we exchange spouses for the evening so each partner gets an adventure. There’s a lot of good that comes of time with friends.
I’m also planning a dinner party a month. In the midst of COVID I have forgotten how to host. I have missed leisurely all day brunches, sporting event parties, and potlucks. I’m excited to stretch my hosting muscles again and get back into the kitchen and eating appetizers with friends while dinner cooks. I’m excited to make dining an adventure that we undertake together. I’m excited to get back to living.
What are you most excited about? What other tips do you have for making fun a part of your regularly scheduled activities and daily life? How do you make time for yourself and the relationships that really matter?