Over the past few months, I’ve become obsessed with my Passion Planner. In the past, I’ve written about why I love the idea of a paper planner (check here if you’re curious). And in the future, I’ll probably write about why I chose to go with this particular size and brand for all my current planning needs.
But for now, I’d like to tell you how I use my weekly layout to support a more mindful parenting style.
Let me start with the caveat that there are tons of great resources already out there, often geared specifically towards moms who bullet journal. If you’re looking for cute and/or efficient ways to set up a meal plan or a chore chart, you can easily fall down a Pinterest rabbit hole (or, even more dangerous, go on an Etsy sticker shopping spree!) Even if you stick purely to Passion Planner-specific web content, there’s still plenty of eye candy out there.
And yeah, I LOVE that kind of information. I drool over gorgeous layouts, and I dream of a life codified by little check boxes. But that’s not a surprise, because I tend to be frightfully detail-oriented. Yeah, I don’t just lose the forest for the trees. I lose the forest for the individual tree leaves I’m obsessively scrutinizing and categorizing.
Hence why my current planner practice is less about trying to get organized and more about trying to get intentional. I need help when it comes to aligning my plans and follow-through with my true priorities. So I’m trying to harness my detail-oriented tendencies in service of something larger.
Here’s how I’m currently planning for and then reflecting on each week:
1. Some time over the weekend (or Monday if life’s busy), I pencil out a plan for the week. I fill in our set obligations and routines first, then I add how I’d like to spend the remaining time. I also give the week (and then each day) a potential focus. This step helps me several ways:
- First and foremost, it reminds me that our family life is actually quite full… and that saying yes to one thing means saying no to something else. This helps me prioritize (easier to do now that I’ve actually done some values pondering). For instance, if I’m focused on “routines” for the week, I might (theoretically, at least) pause before agreeing to an all-day adventure that will screw with meals and quiet time.
- On a purely practical level, I can (again, theoretically) spot and address any imbalances or potential problems with my week before they blow up in real time.
2. After my day is over, I review it and set down what actually happened in pen. I summarize the true focus for the day up top and indicate the dominant weather. (Yeah, the weather thing started during a particularly depressing stretch of winter. I was thinking my whole life was horrible and needed completely revamped. Really, it was just raining a lot. Good to know.)
3. After recapping the day, I add a little heart on times that I particularly enjoyed being with one or both of my children. (Yeah, I always love them, but I don’t always like them… know what I mean? The little hearts–or lack thereof–prompt me to prioritize the actual relationship part of my parenting. I can definitely see it when I’m missing that connection with one of my kiddos.)
4. Finally, I color-code my finished day to see how I spent my time.
- Green logs all work (of both the paid and unpaid variety)
- Yellow conveys group fun (two or more family members engaged together)
- Pink signals time driven by Big Sis’s needs, blue does the same for Little Bro. Mr. M is turquoise.
- Purple shows all my self-care (exercise, writing, relaxing, time with Mr. M, etc.)
- Brown is for service activities (helping others outside our home)
That may sound like a long process, but it actually goes pretty quickly and has the added benefit of relaxing me. Yay! It’s like my own personal adult coloring book! And when I’m done coloring my day, I can often identify why I’m feeling satisfied or crappy, where I’m imbalanced, or why one of my kids might be acting up more than usual. So much win!
Of course, I’m a navel-gazing control freak who loves both planning and reflecting. So clearly this sort of process only works for certain personalities. 🙂
I’d love to hear from some other parents and/or caregivers. How do you use your planner to parent more mindfully? Have you found ways to render your ephemeral family hopes or visions more tangible? Are you breaking down your long-range family goals into meaningful yet manageable steps? Please, share your brilliance!