Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Eighty-Three Percent

"The home is eighty-three percent of your child's world, and you have only one opportunity to make it of maximum benefit."
-Dr. Howard Hendricks

That quote, offered during this year's Mother's Day sermon, is looming at the front of my mind as I type this post up. Gina asked me to share my thoughts on balancing blogging and mothering young children last month, and I thought I'd repost it here in case you missed it....But first I have a little confession.

I'm not a perfect blogger, and I'm certainly not a perfect mother. Most of the time, my floors look like this:
Clearly, I can't boast a home worthy of a feature on Apartment Therapy. And I don't have thousands of Followers clamoring daily to leave comments on my posts. But I have had some experience in juggling the daily demands of being a stay-at-home mom and struggling with the desire to express myself and grow my blog.

For me, my blog started as a chance to talk about something other than sippy cups, Disney princesses, and the potty. I finally had a place to share some of my creative endeavors, air my thoughts on fashion and TV, and even to vent some of the frustration that comes with staying home with two small children every day.

Blogging is slightly addicting. I have totally been the mom who put all the frozen groceries away and left the rest on the counters so I could check my email to see if anyone left a comment on a post that I spent a lot of time on. I let my girls watch a cartoon so I could finish up a certain guest post. Ahem.

You've probably realized that Blogland exists by the notion of Quid Pro Quo. You have to do some visiting, linking, and commenting to grow your blog...unless you're some sort of blogging star whose material is so good that it exists on its own. If you know of a blog like that, please let me know. The point is that getting your blog out there does take time and effort.

I suppose my best advice would be everything in moderation.

Try to set up a blogging schedule that works for your family.

  • Early Bird: Can you wake up early enough to check a few emails and read a few of your favorite blogs before your kids are up? I've found this is also a great time for my Bible study.
  • Quiet Time: Are you a believer in Quiet Time? This is a must for our family. My girls need the rest (even if my four year old just plays quietly in her room), and I have another chance to respond to comments, work on a new blog post, and catch up on any chores I can't get done while the kids are out and about.
  • Night Owl: We have a set bedtime in our house, and it's just as much for my benefit as it is for my kids. Once the Kitchen sink is clear, I can sink into a sort of stupor for a bit. If my husband is not at work, I'd like to make a goal of spending more time with him, even if it means reading a book while he watches The Discovery Channel. If you're a Night Owl, this might be a good time for you to blog, leave comments, or check out some blog parties. 
  • Pull the Plug: Know when enough is enough. I am learning to shut my laptop when my girls are awake. This way, I can't be tempted to refresh my email account every hour or be lured into the temptation of reading just. one. more. blog. We spend more time together reading, playing, and sometimes cleaning up. 
If you are beginning to feel overwhelmed with writing new posts, replying to comments, and linking to blog parties, that might be your signal to take your own Time Out. I am so appreciative of the wonderful faces I see in my "Followers" section, but I also know those readers understand that I won't have anything to blog about if I'm not out in the *Real World* experiencing life.

The pressure to "make it big" in blogging is so prevalent, especially with the influx of new blogs, Sponsors, the 4757563 blog parties out there, and the desire so many of us moms have to please everyone.

Your computer will still be there at the end of the day (unless your toddler spills milk on the keyboard). The comments left on your latest post aren't going anywhere. Your blog can wait around for you to finish up that post in your drafts file.

Our little ones won't always want us to play Barbies with them, or walk down the street to the park, or help water the flowers in the back yard. Let's make our "one opportunity" count and make sure the kids remember us as moms who invested time in them

In the light of eternity, it won't matter if I had 500 Followers or 5000, but what will matter is what I did with that "Eighty-Three Percent."

I'll take a little breather after a long morning at VBS, and then Natalie and I are going on a date to see Toy Story 3 this afternoon. Michaela Byrd gets to stay home and play with T. My four year old is really looking forward to having one-on-one time with me, and I'm excited to spend time with her.

{What are some special things you do with family members to let them know you care?}

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  1. Wow did you ever hit the nail on the head! I really struggle with this, especially since a lot of my posts are DIYs- so I have to take the time to do the project and then take the time to blog about it. I find it really hard to strike a balance. Usually I'm all or nothin'- I'll all but ignore my family while I finish a project and blog it out, and then feel guilty and ignore the blogosphere for a bit while I catch up with my real life responsibilities. I have no idea how some of the humongerous blogs manage to create and blog so often and still remember their children's names! I suspect is has something to do with the onset of preschool/school which I'm looking forward to this fall! One of these days I'll figure it all out!!

  2. Great post! I started up a little blog not to long ago. I decided I could do it if I kept it simple, just book reviews, just 3 posts a week, well I've broken both those and will probably do it again. It is addicting! We have to mindful at that. I try to be an early bird poster and trying, really trying to have set times during the day that I check things, like once in the early morning before kids get up. Once after lunch, once in the evening. The kids are playing nicely right now so of course what do I do? Sneak off to the computer:-) But I'm getting off now. Family first, blog later and it can work out and be enjoyable.

  3. Great post! Mornings work best for me.

  4. That is a great quote and certainly puts life in perspective, doesn't it? Thanks Amanda.

  5. I have been online journaling/blogging for 10 years now and at times, it has been consuming. Right now, my kids are a little older, and sleep in, as does my new hubby, but the dog hasn't figured out this schedule yet and wants me up with her bright and early. This has become my online time. Sure..I check email and facebook periodically throughout the day as a chance arises, but morning time has become my blogging time. The house is quiet & noone interrupts my ME time.

  6. Thanks for putting things in perspective. I'm trying to be alot more diligent with my computer time because it is so easy to get sucked in. I really need to remember that real life is more important than blogs =)

  7. enjoy the movie, I took the kids last weekend and it was really good!
    Although I have time off work this summer and have more time to blog and read blogs, I am trying to spend a lot of time with the kids. For the most part they can be a part of projects I take on around the house too and they enjoy the trips to goodwill and garage sales :)

  8. You're so right about growing a blog - you get out of it what you put in!

  9. Really good post.
    The 83% thing scares me a bit. My kids a getting older and my opportunities fewer. I am not naturally a "fun" mom, but I'm trying to do a little better this summer.

  10. Great post Amanda! We home-school our girls so it seems I am almost always with them, but I can fall into the same temptation of being "busy". Recently I have tried really hard to spend an hour with them watching them play phone, no book just me and them. Also when we eat we try to have conversation about what they are interested in. Thanks for the reminder and the encouragement.

  11. Wonderful post!!! I just started my blog..I don't feel the pressures yet!! I do it for fun. I hope that it will always only be for fun. I love a post that makes you think. Thank you!!! = )

  12. Fantastic post! You really made me stop and think. I have weird work hours, even though I work from home, and I end up sleeping during the day. I have been spending more time awake when the kids are asleep, when I should rearrange that and be awake when they're awake and I don't have to work. I love my alone time, but love the kids more!

  13. ok-where did you get the picture of my dining room floor that is now Polly Central???? Great post and great reminder!!

  14. Great post. I think you are so right when you say that you have to live life to blog.

    And, your followers will totally be here when you get back from spending the most important time with your babes.

  15. Good advice girlfriend and I love your quote! So true!!!

  16. I like to blog more on the weekends or when I have time off from work.
    I think you are doing a great job, however.... I love your blog and love reading through everything!
    Take Care and your followers will always be here, were not going anywhere!!

  17. I am the Early Bird. I catch up on my blog reading and write my blogs early (very early) in the mornings. It is quiet and it feels glorious to be up before the sun and have this special time.

  18. What a great quote. I think it put a perspective on things for me in a different way. I AM naturally a fun mom, but I am also a leave-the-dirty-dishes-in-the-sink-for-three-days kind of mom. (Who has time for dishes when you just found out there is a pick your own strawberries field a few miles away?) Now that I realize how much of their world is this house, it makes me want to be a better homemaker. :)

  19. This is a great post, and something I have really struggled with.

    I'm not gonna lie. I miss the comments I used to get... Before I took my "break"...I was receiveing a minimum of 20 per post (which I know is still modest compared to some). Now that I'm trying to get back, and dutifully visit and comment...I still receive very few. It's hard not to let that define you as a blogger.

    But ultimately, that time off was what I needed in my life, and for my family. Maybe someday I'll be popular again!

  20. I loved this post when I read it at Gina's--I'm so glad you posted it here, too! This is one that warrants re-reading. It looks to me as if you're doing a great job of balancing the two.

    I think you'll love Toy Story! I haven't seen it yet--Jack took the boys last week during the bridal shower (wasn't that smart?). Lee said, "Mom, I just can't imagine how much you're going to cry at the end of Toy Story." Apparently it's a real heart-toucher!

  21. I love this advice, Amanda. It's sooo hard to shut the blasted computer off, but I always feel so much better when I do. I don't think we can ever be reminded of this enough.

  22. Thanks for your words of wisdom. I'm a new blogger and first time mom to a 3 1/2 month old. You are so right about realizing what is important and our one opportunity to just BE with our kids. I just found your blog and I really love it. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Well written...thank you for your truly devoted blog thoughts! I have just begun my blogging days and hardly have a comment on mine yet to be too concerned about it. I hope to not have a desire to be the blog-maven, but my point was to help the ladies in my church who are constantly asking for organizing help. I hope that my blog will bring glory to God by helping them and maybe a few others get their houses, schedules, and lives in order! Thanks...

  24. Today I just didn't allow myself to turn on my computer until the baby went to bed at 8 pm. And you know what? My comments were still there to read/respond at the end of the day, and I feel refreshed and like a much better mother today. I may just do it again tomorrow! I love the quote at the top of this post, very inspiring.


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