I got the most incredible Christmas gift this year from my husband. I know many people don’t exchange gifts with their spouses, but we do. My gifts are usually practical things like undershirts, office supplies, and socks. Ryan’s gifts are also practical, but so thoughtful. He knocks it out of the park every Christmas.
This year, he asked me what I needed, and I (without really thinking) said, “Time and confidence”. Having four kids means no time and I’m in a waiting stage with my book, so confidence is lacking. I was kind of joking because that’s not really something you can give as a Christmas present.
Unless you’re my husband. He started with the time request. What are things that take a lot of time? Cleaning and laundry. I really hate laundry, so it’s also a chore I put off until I’m overwhelmed. To help me with laundry, he and the kids (Anna and Hudson mostly) made a plan. He bought laundry baskets they can carry, laundry detergent in small containers, and laundry bags. They have a clothespin system where they marked pins with different stages of laundry and clip them up when one is accomplished. (Honestly, I don’t truly understand the system, but that’s ok because they do.) They’ve been doing their own laundry and most of mine for over a week and it’s working really well. They aren’t spending much time doing it and we are staying ahead of the piles.
The second part of time was cleaning. I got a few kitchen gadgets to save time on clean up. I also got an iRobot Roomba which makes all my dreams about having a cleaning robot come true. The Roomba (we named Cookie) starts cleaning the floor at 5:00am and is finished and back on her charging dock when we wake up. I come downstairs to a shiny floor and clean carpet. That’s a great way to start the day. And it gives me time to do other things.
Requesting time worked out, but confidence? How’s he going to accomplish that? He started with a journal. A nice, pretty pink one. He set it up with different sections to help me manage my life. (And plenty of room for me to add my own ideas.) Funny story, he had me do a lot of those “which Disney princess are you”-type quizzes. He read them aloud to me making up many of the questions to see what things I may want in my journal. I had no idea he wasn’t reading the actual questions. Maybe he’s the real theatrical one in our house? I would have cracked.
Anyway, the topics are:
Six month overview (where he added important dates)
Bible study pages (for notes on what I’m reading in the word) and a “to be read” list for books of the Bible
A walk tracker (for my walks with Anna)
A swim tracker to keep track of my swims
A six week writing plan which I can fill out however I choose
A tracker for anything I want to measure. (It’s adorable because it looks like a train track moving from Platform 93/4 to Hogwarts. I chose to use it as a tracker for writing my next book.)
New restaurants we tried
Books I read
A page for hikes and adventures we will take
A one-page novel plan (which is genius)
It's tough to see in this picture, but for each key character it says:
Being organized and having a plan does give me confidence, but Ryan went a step further. He reached out to former students, friends, and fellow writers and asked them to write a new words of encouragement. And he wrote these notes throughout the journal. They are unsigned, so they’re anonymous messages that make me smile from people who love me. How awesome is that?
Resolutions are good and work for some people. These are more of systems put in place to take annoying things off my plate and give me a plan for moving forward. Feel free to use any of these in your own journal. I’ve never been one to bullet journal because I don’t like my handwriting and can’t do the fun doodles you always see on Pinterest. But since the journal is only for me, I’m not going to stress about that. Another thing I love that I didn't anticipate is his handwriting in my journal. The control-freak in me would usually stress about that, but I've found it comforting to come across something in his handwriting. It's like a little whisper, "You're not in this alone. You have goals and I'm here to help you accomplish them."
What’s the point of this post?
I’m not really sure, but here are some thoughts:
A little organization can change your outlook.
Prioritize what matters to you and make time for those things.
Sometimes the best gifts start with impossible requests.
My husband is completely awesome and incredibly thoughtful and I wouldn’t be the person I am without his undying support.