“That one simple word holds the key to either chaos or calm,” is a quote I came across on social media recently, and it resonated strongly.
I don’t deal well with chaos – though it’s easy to assume that my life might closely resemble that being the mother of four kids, wife, and business owner. I can say with certainty that there is no tired like “parents of four kids in sports and activities,” tired, but chaos does not describe our life. Routine (though I prefer MY routine of deciding when, where, what, how and who rather than school schedules and sports schedules…though we follow them to a tee). Structure. Plans.
Those are words that more accurately describe our life. We prefer routine and structure. While we enjoy a spontaneous family date night or couple’s date night or trip, we like to keep life as routine and predictable as possible. We have four kids – kids thrive on structure and routine. They like to know who, what, when, where, and why – and we prefer to keep it that way. It helps them thrive. It allows us to thrive. It keeps everything together, in order, and it keeps us from feeling too overwhelmed and out of control.
My husband and I found ourselves amid a conversation recently about priorities and how ours have changed since we first began dating, since we were engaged, since we got married, since we decided to have a baby (then two…then four). Amazingly, our priorities haven’t changed per se, but they’ve changed. Our marriage, our kids, our home, our peace of mind, our family, our business, always top the list of our priorities. My husband reminded me that when we first met, I preferred an early movie, an early phone conversation, an early date night – I liked to be in my bed reading a book by 8 pm, and not much has changed – except now instead of reading a book in bed, I’ll read while I lie down with my husband on the couch and he watches television or whatever.
In the past, however, we were happy to go out and have a great time on a Friday or Saturday night when we didn’t have kids or put them to bed and have a grandparent come over and watch them when we did. We still love and frequently enjoy date nights and weekends away without the kids, but the difference is astounding. Back then, it was to have as much fun as possible until we literally had to be home. Now, we find ourselves unlikely to say yes to a date night invitation or night out from others if it doesn’t involve a really, really great restaurant with a stellar wine list, an early reservation, and the ability to be home by 10. What does that mean? We no longer want to focus on things or spend time doing things we really don’t want to do.
I want to go out and have a great meal with great food, great wine, and a lovely ambiance when I’m on a date. We aren’t interested in bar hopping or loud restaurants (unless we have the kids at Sugar Factory…they love it so much!) or being out late. Our favorite thing to do is be home and in our own bed together before we are exhausted and worn out – we also like to feel refreshed the following day.
As our priorities have changed, we’ve found that we say no far more often than we say yes anymore. No to things that don’t leave us feeling fulfilled or excited. Yes to things that bring us joy and fill our souls with all the goodness life has to offer. We find ourselves more excited about family activities now more than ever before – perhaps this is because the kids are all at such a fun, great, enjoyable age – and making memories as a family is more important now than it’s ever been. We spent this past Friday night at Olive Garden (Ava’s weekend to choose again, which always means Olive Garden so she can have salad) by 5:45 pm, home by 7:30, and in the middle of an epic Mario Kart battle on the Switch by 7:45. It was a perfect Friday night. Saturday, we spent the entire day on the boat with our kids and our best friends and their kids – swimming, playing, conversing, and making memories. On the way home, Carter said it was the best day ever being with his favorite people and having so much fun, and the other three quickly agreed.
We live such a busy life. We are constantly here and there for this and that. Golf, cheer, tumble, tutoring, NJHS, spending time with the people we love the most, date nights, travel, running a business. It’s a lot – and we are always busy. It’s not something I love – busyness is not a badge of honor in my opinion. Being well-rested, happy, and home with my five favorite people is a badge of honor in my own opinion, but we have kids and kids equal activities. We wouldn’t have it any other way. We wouldn’t trade a moment of our time with our friends and their families, either. But, at the end of the day, we find we are much more particular about what is worth our time and what is not. Slow, simple, enjoyable – great wine, great conversations, great memories, laughter, and being with people who fill us up. That’s where our priorities lie.
Finally, I want to touch on a simple Sunday. We do have golf lessons on Sundays, and we don’t always hang out around the house, but we are very protective of our Sundays. They’re for us. They’re for spontaneous brunches or shopping trips, filet by the pool, and people we love, though I have a deep, deep love affair with a simple Sunday spent at home not leaving the house. Ordering groceries, doing all the little things that we don’t always have time for during the week (organizing my desk drawer and my calendar, catching up on a few deadlines, emails, etc. Weeding the flower beds, making lists of things we need to task the landscaper with, taking long walks or golf cart/bike rides around the neighborhood, an afternoon date with my husband, making sure we are prepared and rested and fulfilled on Monday mornings. There’s just no room left for exhaustion. Sundays are the make or break for Monday, for us. If it’s not a good Sunday, it’s not a good Monday.
Priorities, whatever that means to you, are the most important word in your vocabulary. Once you get them right – everything is simpler, more enjoyable, and everyone is happier. We both turn 40 next year, and there is nothing more important to us than our marriage and our kids and the happiness of both. If you need us, we’ll be over here being as intentional and slow as we can be when we have a moment to ourselves.