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Monday, June 02, 2014

Mommy Monday ~ Guest Blogger Angelsea Urban

I met Angelsea 3 years ago, and she literally has become one of my very best friends in the world. 
She is an amazing, godly, talented, funny, sweet and crazy friend - just the way I like them. 
I am so excited to be able to share this incredible post that gives so many practical tips about being an intentional parent! 
Check out her blog here.
Thank you so much Angie- Love you!

Can I just first say that I find it incredible humbling to be writing for the RACHELLE CHASE blog. About PARENTING?!?!

And I mean that in all seriousness. I have learned so much from Rachelle over the years about what it means to be an intentional parent and that has influenced my life in so many ways ever since. She walks the walk. And that means so much to me when it comes to the people I want to draw influence from.

With that said, when she asked ME to write an article on parenting  - it’s as if Paula Dean is asking me to teach her friends a little something about southern cooking.  It’s just a little intimidating you guys, and it’s like I am not worthy to be here.

But I will share what I know. And just maybe one of her blog reading friends will pick up something Paula Dean would be proud of.

So - I am an organizer. I like plans to be neat and tidy so that when I decide to break my plans or when I am feeling overwhelmed, I have a home base to come back to and rely on. I don’t live and die by being organized, but when it’s in place, it helps me to sleep at night and helps to keep my family all on the same page. I mean, it’s hard enough managing your own personal and work time, but to be able to simultaneously manage your own + your family time and your kids schedules it can be a daunting task.

There is nothing more precious to me than my TIME. And if I can save a minute here and there, I would like to. And it all adds up. My love language is Quality Time so if I can’t manage it effectively, and give myself pockets of time to spend with the ones I love, I get cranky and miserable.

So I start with my Google calendar. My entire life is on my Google calendar (also synced to my phone). I love paper planners… I really do. They are stunning and inspirational, but a paper planner does me no good if my husband has to call me every time he wants to schedule something. With a digital system, he could easily log on to our shared Google calendar and just check and schedule things that HE needs to without worrying about a conflict. I try to keep everything on there because my work location and schedule is always changing. Even my daily appointments so when he calls and I don’t answer, he can look on the calendar and see that I am in a 3 hour Skype appointment and not to expect a call back just yet. Or if I am scheduled to be on the road, or in the studio, or at school. It’s just easier to be able to communicate WITHOUT having to actually communicate on these menial exchanges of information. So when I do get to speak with him throughout the day, it’s more about us, and not about the mutual life details we are co-managing.

Want to know what is for dinner? Go look at the calendar.

How about when we can schedule that weekend getaway? Check the calendar.

I used to try to be funny and write things in there months in advance like “get your wife flowers for no reason” to see if he was checking the calendar. Often I would forget I added it in there.

And then I would get flowers. It was a win-win. lol

Managing Tasks
If I don’t have time to get to it, I don’t want to have to write it again.  Because  - ain’t nobody got time for that. I would rather be able to drag and drop and reassign it another day. Done and done. 
Once in a while we have a “Family Work Day”. On those days we might do anything from raking leaves to deep cleaning the house to painting the living room. As we think of these projects we write it as a Task on the Google Calendar for the next Family Work Day.

If we wake up on Family Work Day, and it’s the most beautiful day we’ve had in FOREVER – we might just take that “Family Work Day” box and literally drag it to another day on the Google calendar and head to the beach or the park or the flea market. 
Because really, who cares about the leaves sometimes. They will still be there tomorrow.

Kids and the Calendar
My 6 year old son doesn’t appreciate me picking him up from school and whisking him to the dentist for a cleaning without warning. He had it in his mind that he worked hard at school all day and all he wants to do is come home and play legos. So, we implemented a chalkboard wall into our very small foyer so that the kids can be on the same page as us on our digital calendar.

Do you know those beautiful mudrooms as seen on pinterest where each kid has they own cubbie for jackets and shoes and a bench where everything stays organized? Yes. Me too!

I don’t have time for that.

Maybe I will add building one of those to my Family Work Day list.

But I do have time for THIS: 

It’s not fancy. But it works. As the backpacks are emptied and the art projects are flying – they have a place to go. The top is for things to be kept at home (perhaps in a permanent memory box in the basement) and the bottom is for items for school.

Across from that is the chalkboard wall.

It’s in a very small hallway that is probably 3 feet by 4 feet. Everyone has enough room for THIS somewhere. This is our exit through the garage (where we come in and out of each day).

Each week I take the Google calendar and copy it here for the kids. I might highlight dentist appointments, play dates, soccer games, AWANA, what’s for dinner, etc. It also will highlight any time that I might be on location for work – as in – “don’t call me in an hour and tell me you forgot your flute and ask me to bring it to you” – because I won’t be home. So… remember your flute. 
Because it’s on the wall. Just look at the wall when you leave.

The “Wall” also holds a lot of other important information.

Our Family Mission Statement
Some might find it hokey but for us, it works. It keeps us focused as a family and helps us to make decisions as parents, and helps the kids to understand WHY we are making these decisions.

It took us about a month to write the finalized version. Each child had a hand in writing every word. And when we were finished, every night at dinner we would pick it apart phrase by phrase and talk about what it really meant. That took another month. And before they could go to Disney – they had to memorize it. Yes. We are so mean. But they did it. Both of them.

I literally Googled (you can see a theme here) “How to write a family mission statement” and I found some great step-by-step directions. I highly recommend doing this project as a family. It has really been a tremendous tool for my husband and I (besides Rachelle’s blog) to be intentional parents.

The Verse of the Week
Every week for AWANA the kids have to memorize a verse. So every Thursday they have to write their verse on the wall so they can look at it and read it several times a day. I didn’t exactly think things through putting it at the tippy top because EVERY week we also have to drag a chair in there so they can do that.

What the heck is ROARCHI?
So the school they go to has a program called ROAR. It’s meant to recognize and reward positive behavior. It stands for Respectful, Optimistic, Awesome Achievers, and Responsible. When they exhibit this behavior at school, the teachers who sees this gives them a ROAR ticket. They get a little blue paper saying ROAR. And their name goes in a pot for a weekly drawing to win things like – an eraser. Woah.

My kids were going gaga over this.

So I wanted to capitalize on it and keep it going at home. But we added some things that we wanted our kids to practice at home. So we added the CHI – Compassion, Humbleness, and Integrity. If we recognize one of the ROARCHI qualities at home they get a ROARCHI ticket. They each made a little book that we put the tickets into. We write down what they got the ticket for and the date. When the book gets filled up – something REALLLLLY special will happen. (We are still deciding exactly WHAT that will be. Lol) I think they may have forgotten there is supposed to be a bigger prize. They are still excited to get the tickets. Fine by me. It’s working for now.

The other items on “the Wall” are the shopping list and random reminders. My 6 year old has recently been bestowed “keeper of the list” so when I run out of random things throughout the week I call them out and the “keeper of the list” has to go to the wall and write it down. For him and his kindergarten phonetics – it makes for an interesting shopping list. But it’s good practice for him and makes me laugh every time I have to grocery shop. 
And yes – I shop online – it saves me a TON of time.

It’s not just for work, work, work… Scheduling personal time
Can I just add that the day my husband and I started scheduling our personal time was one of the best decisions we ever made. Just by picking a day of the week for “Movie night” gave us both permission to brain dump, on the couch, with no expectations of deep conversations or financial management or information downloads. Just to know that movie night means to sit and cuddle and that I will get there on TUESDAY it gets me through Monday – which might be financial management night. It just helps. Also I will never have to hear “I never get time to do what **I** want to do because it’s ON. THE. CALENDAR.

Here is an example of what works for us:

Monday: Management Meeting (During Lunch break) We will use this hour to discuss budgets, upcoming projects, schedule changes, things to add to the next Family Work Day, etc. We sometimes will need to schedule an entire hour to Finances or discipline issues or fill in the blank – but the point is – this is “business”. Get down to “business” as if it were “business”. With your thinking caps on, at full attention. We used to schedule this meeting on Monday nights after the kids were in bed, but we found we were both mentally drained by that time and we often cancelled every single meeting because we were just too tired to deal. So, we moved it to “work time” and it has been MUCH more effective.

The rest is after 8 PM when the kids are in bed:

Tuesday: Personal hobby time
For Steve this means he will be in his music room writing or recording or rehearsing. Or ripping apart some guitar or watching some guitar building video. Whatever he wants. It’s his time. For me, I might get crafty or watch a sappy movie or read a book or take a bath or get some extra work in. It’s my time.

Wednesday: Movie Night
The kids have AWANA and we have our adult’s small group so Wednesday’s are kinda crazy. The kids are scarfing down either a sandwich or a bowl of cereal or a quick dinner and we are out the door. By the time we get home, they are cleaned up and in bed and we are all fried. MOVIE NIGHT. Because that is about all we can handle after all of that.

Thursday: Date Night. While we still have young kids, it’s hard for us to get out for an evening without spending $100 on cheap dinner, movie + babysitter. So Thursday nights are date nights at home. No TV. No movies or books or other distractions. Maybe it’s deep conversations, or cooking a new recipe or reading a couple’s devo book together. Whatever it is, it’s meant to be intentional (and intellectual) time we are spending on our marriage.

Friday night: Anything. We will decide on Friday night. Maybe we go out for ice cream as a family or stay in and watch TV or do a project or paint the house or barbeque with friends.

Saturdays are almost never the same. We like to have fun. We like to go on adventures and explore and get things done around the house. So if there are no soccer games or birthday parties or huge projects we are in the middle of, we are likely on our way to somewhere fun, or in the backyard enjoying the weather.  Some days we declare a “BUM DAY” where no one gets out of his or her pajamas and we watch movies or play games ALL day. I love bum days, but nothing ruins a bum day more than GUILT. So intentionally writing a BUM DAY on the calendar gives everyone permission to bum around all day guilt free.

Sundays are spent at church. And if it’s a week that Steve is playing with the worship team, he’s usually pretty tired after rehearsal + 3 services. We will likely be home, relaxing and most likely be doing laundry. Womp womp. Yes, it’s a very exciting life.

I would like to start implementing “Sunday Dinner”. Where the mom spends all afternoon cooking something amazing and the house fills up with people. Maybe we will be meeting the girlfriends and boyfriends or best friends coming home from college. There will be football games or fishing shows in the background and the Dad is shouting at the TV. Can I schedule when they are allowed to start dating? Because that would be perfect. AND. Never. #youcantmakeme #notready #momsaidnoway #whenyouare30 #maybe #probablycantdealwithsundaydinneryet

So all of this to say, yes, it’s a lot. But it’s pretty typical of a full time working mom and full time working dad raising kids. We still have time to volunteer, take the kids to practice, spend LOTS of quality time together as a family, have hobbies, have fun, projects, etc. It can be done. Is it perfect? Absolutely not, but it IS possible and really, what matters most is this...

We enjoy our life. We don’t feel like we are missing out on anything. We don’t feel like we have to sacrifice being with our kids to work, or that “someday” we’ll get to live our dream life. Or that if we wake up 5 years from now, that we will have a list of missed opportunities we’ll regret. We enjoy the journey and we enjoy our family. We know that time is our most precious asset and with a little bit of commitment, we attempt to make this “calendar” thing work, so that we can cultivate deeply rooted relationships within our family.

And the bottom line is this

God created 24 hours in a day for a reason. With time to work and time to rest. Time to fellowship and time serve Him. If you are running out of time or feel like there is just not enough time in the day, it’s not because HE didn’t create enough time. It’s because WE are filling it up with other things that He never intended us to be doing. It’s our responsibility to be effective with that time, and to teach our kids to do the same.

I hope Paula Dean would be proud. ;-)


  1. This was great!! Very helpful too!! I think Paula would be proud;)

  2. This is absolutely amazing! Rachelle- you always have such great information and suggestions on your posts and I LOVE that you brought in a friend who parents so intentionally as well. Angie, there are so many good bits of advice here. Thank you for breaking it all down! It's fantastic!


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