creating #whitespace for our family

Earlier this week I shared a brief profile of our family to explain why I feel whitespace is such a desperate need for our family.

In this post, I’d like to share some of the ways I have already begun to create whitespace in our home and with our family.

1. Extended sleep and quiet times. 

Russ is up by 0600 and gone before 0700. Over the last six years, I have always made getting up with him and spending the morning together a priority (including my making him breakfast and a sack lunch and helping him get his things together). I did this because that’s what good wives do of course. (I may or may not have been unknowingly trying to earn my husband’s love and even judged my friends who did not make this a priority.)

Over the past few months, I’ve let that go. I make Russell’s sandwich the night before and he *gasp* packs his own snacks. He also takes care of his own breakfast (cereal, instant oatmeal, English muffins, organic pop-tarts).

And then, I sleep. He kisses me before he leaves and I sleep.

This month, for the first time, I have let go of the guilt. Sleeping instead of doing “the good wife thing” has been hard, but I have let go of perfection and realized that I am, in actuality, giving my husband a gift by being more rested (which enables me to do everything on my plate better).

This doesn’t work every morning. Some mornings Ezra wakes up before Russ leaves for work, crying or poopy or just needing more immediate care, so we will get up as a family and I will make Russ breakfast. But if Ezra sleeps in, or if he’s awake just playing contentedly in his room, then I stay in bed until I feel ready to face the day.

Most mornings that means I’m climbing out of bed after 8am. Often I will brew a cup of coffee and check my email in peace while Ezra stays in his room. Ahhhh….blessed whitespace! 

On mornings when we stay home instead of heading to Bible study or the gym, I have also been giving Ezra a second quiet time in his room, in addition to our afternoon nap and quiet time.

2. Teaching independent play skills to Ezra and increasing together play-time. 

This is an area where, right now, it feels like a lot of work (the opposite of whitespace) – but hopefully in the future we can get more whitespace because of it. Ezra is highly extroverted and dislikes doing anything on his own. His independent play skills are highly lacking (due to overuse of TV). Over the past few weeks, I have shifted my focus onto creating more opportunities for him to self-entertain. We have been keeping Netflix off, listening to music instead. In addition to quiet times where he is confined to his room, I’m working hard to teach him to play by himself throughout the day (through use of a timer) and then rewarding him with special playtime, school time, or reading time with me. We have also purchased more puzzles and read-along storybook CDs so that he can develop his reading and comprehension skills, and develop his imagination and creativity.

This does NOT come easy to either of us, but I am seeing improvement. Limiting the TV and turning on music instead has helped keep the atmosphere of the home a little bit less stimulating. I feel like this “project” has helped me put more thought and intention into mothering him.

3. Changing how I view housework.

creating whitespace

Shortly after I started this whitespace experiment, I had a burst of energy and in one evening I was able to get all of the laundry folded and put away. Then I took this picture, saying how I had “created whitespace.” I didn’t think that much of it, but since then I have realized how powerful that shift in focus is.

I really don’t enjoy housework, cleaning, laundry. It feels like a never-ending drudgery that I just don’t have energy for.  But when I view housework as a creative process, an expression of my creativity, and something that will give us more space in the home for quality time – it energizes, motivates, and inspires me.

It’s slight, and laughably semantical, I know. But the mind-shift helps.

4. Reading fewer blogs. 

Well, actually, not reading blogs. I’m taking a month off from reading blogs.

I love love love reading blogs. I’m pretty much an addict. I currently follow 61 blogs on Bloglovin. 61 my friends! I haven’t read any of them in a week and I have 241 unread posts in my queue. Wow.

Okay, I’m going to try to forget about the number of amazing posts beckoning me. This is hard. Really hard. So many of these women, these writers, I know and love and I don’t want to miss out on their words. Heck, I write here and I want people to read my stuff, so I try to do the same for the other writers in my life.

But…when I zoom out and put it all in perspective, I realize that that’s yet another standard of “doing things right” (aka being a good blog reader, or a good friend) that I have to let go of – because I am just one person with lots of needs to meet and limited time to do so.

I’m not sure what all I am going to do with all of that…I know I need to pare down that list desperately, but I just am not sure where to start because I love them all. So for now, I am giving myself a break from it completely. After a month I will re-evaluate each one, try to think about which ones I missed reading and which ones I didn’t.

I still love the encouragement I glean from other bloggers, so to fill that gap, I’ve been listening to podcasts while I do housework! This allows me to still feel connected to other bloggers and inspired and encouraged, but doesn’t keep me tied up in front of the computer. It also makes the housework go faster.

5. Limiting media in general.

For the month I’m also taking another break from Facebook, but with a lot of grace. I’m allowing myself to check my notifications and messages throughout the day, as well as post and read posts in my blogging mastermind group and a few other private groups that I am a part of. But I am not reading through my news feed. (Because, yes, I am in probably the 1% of people that actually reads through their entire news feed, every day, throughout the day.)

Letting it go… *sigh* another hard one!

I’m limiting other social media usage strictly to sharing my own blog posts (which means no Five Minute Friday party or Pinterest browsing.)

~~~~

I feel like there is a lot more I could share here, but this post is getting lengthly so I’m going to stop. I am keeping whitespace a focus throughout every day and have been so pleased with the results. Thank you for letting me put some of these thoughts on “paper” because it helps me to process them – and I’m hopeful that maybe I’ve given you some ideas to help you de-clutter your brain, heart, and home as well.

14 thoughts on “creating #whitespace for our family

  1. I love #3 – viewing housework as a creative process. I have struggled with housework so much lately, getting lost in the drudgery and, in turn, allowing my house to look like a chaotic mess, which makes my brain hurt. So I’m going to try to focus on shifting my motivation this week, too!

  2. #3 is great.
    I hear you on the Facebook front. My problem wasn’t the NewsFeed itself, it was the *links* that people posted, which led me down clicky rabbit trails. I created a new newsfeed list of my closest friends and make that the link my toolbar bookmark button go to. I found all the people that were most prone to posting links and either removed them from my feed or checked “Only Life Events” from the selection (That’s changed recently, I think). I removed the FB app from my phone, too. I still check my FB pretty often, but usually end up turning it off after a couple minutes because I’m bored. IT’S AMAZING.

    I don’t do Blogfeeds. I have shortcuts to my favorite regular updaters and check their sites periodically. If I follow them on Facebook, I don’t click on all of their links. I don’t read every post by every blogger, either.
    Making the switch from consumer (having a fire-hydrant-like blast of information coming my way, all the time) to seeker (actively choosing what I am going to spend my time doing) has helped my will power and increased my time.

    The biggest obstacle for me was Pinterest. I forced myself to follow no more than 3 boards per Pinner, unfollowing several Pinners completely and reducing most to one board.

    • Ahh…seeker VS consumer. Wow. That’s some good stuff. I’m going to have to think about that. Thankfully, Pinterest doesn’t tempt me. I rarely actually go on to scroll through my feed – maybe once or twice a month, and only for like 10 minutes. It’s Facebook and the blogs that suck me in.

      I don’t think you can select “only life events” on Facebook anymore. I think you have to say most updates, some updates, or only important updates. Not quite as selective IMO – I’ll have to check that out again.

      • I don’t know if you can even do the “most updates” selections anymore. I tried to do it on a couple, and there weren’t the choices. Just “get notifications” or not and “Following” or not.

        Er… what’s the difference between following and getting notifications? No idea.

        I think Pinterest tempts me so much because 1) I love magazines, and it’s like a huge magazine. 2) I collect things. 3) I’m an introvert, so I don’t crave the pseudosocialization of more social media like Facebook. I can share interests with strangers, which interests me more than small talk with people I actually know. Sounds awful, but it’s true!

      • No it makes sense. I’m more of an ambivert and prefer relationships to things…never cared for magazines, but love a good book with a good story. If that makes sense!

      • Yes it does look like they changed it again – I think if you choose to “get notifications” – it will actually give you a red notification in your notifications anytime they post anything.

        And yes you can no longer sort by all, some, and only important updates. Daggone.

      • I so appreciate this discussion! So, I just got on FB to check out the new(est) settings – then organized my entire friends list into lists. “close friends” – “acquaintances” – and “if I have time.” There’s only like 38 people on my close friends list, but they are the people who I really want to see every single post of – so now I won’t feel so badly about going through that entire list every day.

        My bloglovin feed is organized the same way which helps, because I can quickly read the blogs that I don’t want to miss a post from.

  3. These are all really good! My fave is the cleaning one. I hate housework too. I kinda decided to limit everything in my life awhile back, mainly avoiding things that disturb my peace. I hardly read blogs anymore. And usually when I get on FB I don’t read 90% of whats on there. Any kind of drama and such that I can take out of my life makes me better. The more I focus on what really matters and filter out the things that don’t, I am happier, more relaxed, and feel secure with where God has me. Boundaries are so freeing, ironically. :)

  4. I took a hiatus from all social media for 10 days to work on the final edits of my book (due out in a few weeks!) and it was THE BEST 10 DAYS EVER! Good for you. I’ve let go of the guilt of not reading every post in my feed and focus on what I want to read instead. Good for you for simplifying life!

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