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My Intentionality Successes (and a few Works-in-Progress)

I chose the name The Indecisive Mama because making decisions is one of my least favorite things to do.  I overthink most things, even things you wouldn’t think would be too difficult, like what to wear or which chores to tackle in which order.

So making “intentional” my 2018 Word of the Year was both exciting and daunting.  Because being intentional while avoiding decision making is not possible.  Making this my focus for the year has allowed me to reframe how I view these two concepts, and in the process I’ve been able to acknowledge areas where I’m actually doing okay!  (And also, of course, some areas where I need to focus more attention.)

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Some Intentionality “Wins”

Intentionality, for me, is often making a decision now so that I don’t have to make it later.  Taking something off the table for me to overthink about in the future. It’s solving the problem once, instead of solving it over and over and over.

Here are a few ways I’ve been intentional in my 3 years of motherhood.

1. I get up in the morning before my toddler.

I know tomes of internet pages have been devoted to the idea of rising early before your kids, or before work, or to spend time in the Word and prayer.  And as a night-owl by nature, those posts used to annoy me to no end.

But as I discovered even when I was single with no kids, the fact that I’m NOT a morning person is the very reason I need to get up early.  So I have time to sit and stare into space and drink my coffee with my eyes half open.  So my brain can slowly acclimate to (what feels like) the tortuous state of being alert and interacting with the world.

Now, as a mom, I have seen what a difference it makes to have those (sometimes way-too-few) minutes to let my general annoyance at waking pass, before I have a very happy, very loud, definitely-a-morning-person toddler bouncing around and expecting me to interact with her.  As a plus, most of the time I’m able to read my Bible, pray, or journal to start my day.

Note: I did not do this when my daughter was an infant.  The early baby days were all about getting as much sleep as I could, and since I am not a good napper, it took me a little while to get back to early rising.  But as soon as I could manage it, I started making myself set an alarm, or get up with my husband (who has to be at work at 6:30 am most days.) And any time I think that maaaaaybe I’ll be okay if I sleep just a liiittle longer…I always regret it.

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2. We trained our baby to sleep, and try to maintain a regular bedtime routine.

I know sleep training is a controversial topic, and I’m not going to get into the details here, but I will say that, for us, it was the best decision we made as new parents.  We used the SLIP method (detailed in the book Precious Little Sleep by Alexis Dubief) when Abby was 6 months old. At the time I found her info on preciouslittlesleep.com and on her closed Facebook group (which is an amazing, compassionate, non-judgmental place to talk about baby sleep woes. I recommend it to every new parent.)

Sleep deprivation is no joke.  There’s a reason it’s used before interrogations of prisoners of war! For both my sanity and Abby’s long-term health, teaching her to sleep in her own bed was crucial.

Now, her bedtime routine not only signals her brain that it’s time to sleep, but it gives us a calm, peaceful, and happy way to end the day.  No matter how many times she’s had to be disciplined, or how frustrated and done with the day I am, those few minutes of books, songs, prayers, and goodnight kisses lets us end on a pleasant note.

3. I don’t let myself watch TV or movies during the day.

It took me longer than I’d like to admit to implement this rule for myself when I started staying at home.  During the second half of my pregnancy, and probably the first year of Abby’s life (maybe even longer) I would regularly turn on Netflix for “just one episode” while I fed the baby or folded a load of laundry, and, well…that would end any hope of productivity for the rest of the day.  I’m sure there are people who can discipline themselves to only watch one episode of something as a break during the day and then get back to whatever they need to get done. I am not one of those people. So the TV stays off, except for Abby’s Daniel Tiger or YouTube videos of choirs and worship bands.

4. I don’t play podcasts while driving Abby to preschool.

This started as an intention to break the habit of using my phone while I driving.  (Which is so dangerous, and illegal, and still SUCH a hard habit to break!) But I love podcasts, I don’t need to be touching my phone to listen, and riding in the car is prime “downtime” to work through my playlist.

And when Abby was younger, that was fine.  (The voices even put her to sleep on occasion.) But as she’s gotten older and more talkative, I realized that I was missing out on opportunities to connect with her.  So I implemented the rule for myself, to make myself available to her.  Sometimes we talk, sometimes we sing, sometimes she asks for music. I think it’s been good for us, and as she gets older, it’s a time that’s already established for us to connect.  Getting that in my head now will hopefully make it second nature when she’s older.

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I can clearly see the benefits of these few decisions in our day to day life now.  And I know there are areas where I need to make other intentional decisions to impact our future.  Some examples:

  • Regular exercise (when I do it, I feel better. And I want to model healthy habits for Abby.  I’m just not consistent.)
  • Healthier eating habits (For me, and also for Abby. This includes regular meal and snack times, as well as healthier foods for those meals and snacks.)
  • More structured phone-free times (I can fall into the same trap with Instagram Stories that I did with Netflix. The platform or device isn’t the problem. The problem is my tendency to zone out.)
  • Connecting with family and friends. (Anyone close to me can tell you, I’m terrible at returning calls and texts. I even convinced some of my friends and family to use Marco Polo, the video messaging app, only to go days without responding to their messages.  It’s a problem. )

This list would be completely overwhelming if it wasn’t for the successes I’ve seen in implementing intentionality in other areas.  Knowing I’ve solved some of my other pressing issues by making a decision once gives me motivation to move forward.

One decision at a time.

Have you solved an on-going problem by “deciding once?”  Leave a comment and tell me about it!

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3 thoughts on “My Intentionality Successes (and a few Works-in-Progress)”

  1. I am so proud of you, Jessica! This blog is great. I wish things like this were available when I was a mother of young children. You are surely a blessing to others, and I can apply these concepts in my life as well. Love you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

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