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Ink Slingers Lisa Canning Mom So Hard Series

What if it Didn’t Have to be so Hard?

Welcome to this installment in the series MOM SO HARD – FINESSING THE INTRICACIES OF YOUR MODERN CATHOLIC FAMILY, a series focused on taking a look at the Faith through the lens of being a Catholic mom. This series is going to–using a spiritual foundation as our starting point–walk with you and share candid and practical elements that make up our days. We will look at primary spiritual elements, recognizing that without God, nothing is possible. How do we start our day? How do we end our day? If God does not bookend our days (at a minimum), we can start to see how feeling overwhelmed or worse can creep into our day. Even the most mundane of chores and activities can be done to glorify God. So, grab some coffee, a notebook, and a pen, and let’s get started, shall we?


For the first five years of my motherhood journey, I felt like I did not belong. 

We were married young, with no savings, and I had just launched my interior design business when we had our first child. We had no available income for childcare, but more importantly I wanted my baby near me. I wanted to be his primary caregiver. I wanted to embrace the vocation of motherhood full on.

But at the same time, I also had a passion for my work. Just two years before having our son John, I hosted a show on HGTV that launched my interior design and television career. I saw before me enticing opportunities I could have never imagined for my life. And while no one said it this harshly, it was definitely implied that it would be more convenient for everyone else if I waited to start a family.

So I found myself, at the age of 25, with one foot firmly in the stay-at-home mom camp, and one foot firmly in the working mom camp. I had some friends telling me my place was at home, and at home is where I should stay. And then I had some friends saying I could have it all, and what was the harm in working. And I felt so much tension, feeling like I didn’t fully belong to either camp. 

So as a result, I worked hard to prove to both groups that I could do it. I wanted to show the stay-at-home moms that I was still a present wife, mom, and homemaker! Look how cute my son looks on my hip while I shop for fabric samples- he’s like my assistant! And to the working moms, I wanted to prove that I could still be successful, that I was crushing it at work, that I could juggle kids and work without missing a beat.

I was able to keep up the juggling charade for a few years, but it got more and more intense. As my career grew, so did my family size. By the time I was 30, I had 4 children ages 5 and under.

And I was exhausted.

It all came to a massive implosion on a snowy November day. A light dusting of snow had fallen in my hometown of Toronto, making everything look so peaceful and pristine outside. And it was in such stark contrast to how messy the inside of my minivan was. My passenger seat was full of interior design samples, the floor of my car was littered with goldfish crackers, empty water bottles, forgotten sippy cups. I had an overflowing bag of diapers, wipes and onesies, and way in the back I had my less than a week-old newborn daughter Rose, and I was bringing her into a messy construction site because I had put so much pressure on myself to show up for work. 

And it hit me that day as I stared at the mess and chaos around me, and realized that my priorities were as messy as my minivan.

That was the day I said no more. That was the day I said there had to be another way. That was the day I finally wholeheartedly invited God into my plans, and let Him show me how to use my gifts in appropriate ways, at the appropriate times. That was the day I became obsessed with figuring out a way that I could be a great wife and mom, but also pursue my dreams at the same time. 

I had become so reliant on what my achievements said about my identity and self worth, that I was blind to what this pursuit of success was doing to the people who mattered most to me, the souls I had been entrusted with to nurture, support, and bring closer to God.

It is so difficult to hear God when you are so consumed by achievement. He had been speaking to me throughout the chaos but I was reluctant to listen.

But slowly, things started to change. I changed my business drastically. I made sure my family knew they were a priority by ensuring I made space for them in my calendar. I showed up for my prayer life like I would show up for a client. I showed up for my marriage like I would show up for a live tv spot. It was a long and winding road of unlearning past habits and developing new ones, and trusting God even when it felt hard. But now ten years into my motherhood career, and seven gorgeous kids later, I am happy to report there truly is another way. What God revealed to me in the mess of my minivan and so many other messy motherhood moments, is that His plan is always so much better than my own.

Here is what I know to be true: God did not give us dreams so we could feel guilty for having them. This was the lie I believed for many years- that I was somehow wired wrong as a Catholic mom for having a desire to use my gifts outside of the home. What God revealed to me in my years post my “minivan meltdown”, was that with strategic time management, delegation and a clear sense of your priorities, you can be a great mom and pursue the dreams He has for you for you at the same.

But at the same time, this pursuit requires surrender and sacrifice. During certain seasons, it might be possible for a mom to dedicate time to a dream for several hours a day. During other seasons, dream chasing might only occur in short 15-minute sprints in between diaper changes. What’s also important to remember is that raising kids is one of the most important achievements of all. And while sometimes, it might not feel like you are “doing anything”, or no one sees the work you are doing, our Father in Heaven sees it, and the people who need it most, see it. God’s timing is perfect- and although we may have strong desires, His timing is the very best timing, and we need to have the docility to listen to His voice and go where He needs us. 

 
Lisa Canning is a parenting, lifestyle and interior design expert in Toronto, Canada where she lives with her husband Josh and her seven children. You can pre-order her first book, The Possibility Mom: How to be a Great Mom and Pursue Your Dreams at the Same Time right now!

REFLECT

Let’s dig deeper. Did this post resonate with you? If so, please continue on below and consider starting a journal to jot down your answers. PRINT several copies of these questions to start your own journal based on different posts. 

  1. What was my spiritual life like before getting married?
  2. What was my spiritual life like before children?
  3. What is my spiritual life like now?
  4. How would I like my spiritual life to be?

RESOURCES

CATHOLIC PLANNER – DAYBOOK – “It’s the best first step you’ll take towards organizing a better tomorrow.” Martina Kreitzer, foundress of Catholic Sistas

BOOK – The Possibility Mom: How to be a Great Mom and Pursue Your Dreams at the Same Time right now! by Lisa Canning

 

 

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CS in the media Giveaways Ink Slingers Martina Reviews

Catholic Through The Year Blog Tour and Contest

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WHAT IT IS

Catholic Sistas is pleased to announce The Official Catholic Through The Year Blog Tour! 

This blog tour is intended to spread the word about this budget friendly downloadable and printable Catholic planner. We will be hosting a giveaway throughout the tour as well, which will include a free calendar and your choice of any/all of our available bundles {Homeschool Lesson Planner, Household Management, or Catholic Blogger}. Scroll to the bottom to see those details, and good luck! If this if your first time hearing about this amazing planning and organizing tool, you’ll want to stop by our store and our sample pages to see what all the fuss is! 

WHO’S PARTICIPATING

JULY 20 – Ashley Woleben at Between the Linens

JULY 21 – Jen Frost at Faith & Fabric

JULY 22 – Hilary Weston at Sweetness and Joy

JULY 23 – Sarah Reinhard at Snoring Scholar

JULY 24 – Michelle Fritz at Tales from the Side of the Tub

JULY 27 – Debbie Gaudino at Saints 365

JULY 28 – Erika Drain at Raising Little Saints

JULY 29 – Catholic Mom

JULY 30 – Kerri Baunach at Journal of a Nobody

JULY 31 – Barb Szyszkiewicz at Franciscan Mom


 

THE GIVEAWAY

To enter, simply answer the following question in the comments below:

“Why do you want to win THIS planner?” 

THE LOOT

ONE lucky winner will win all the files they need, starting with the Catholic Through The Year planner and their choice of any/all of the bundles – homeschool, household management, and Catholic blogger. Visit our store to see the sample pages. IF you choose to purchase and end up winning, your purchase will be refunded!

THE RULES

One entry per person, please.

Giveaway will end at 10 p.m. CST on Friday, July 24 {comments will be closed upon deadline}.

Categories
Faith Formation Ink Slingers Marriage Martina Vocations

19 Shockingly Simple Ways to Live Your Crazy Catholic Life

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I know it, you know it.

Our lives are filled with “busy.” My definition of busy varies from others. I know at times I look at what friends and family are doing and I think to myself

HOW DO YOU DO IT? 

Recently, I was asked that very question – how do you do it? – by three different people in three different ways in one week. I’m shocked and dumbfounded that I have fooled people into thinking I have my life in order humbled that people think I have it all together. How DO I do it? And what exactly is it that I’m doing? I’m pretty sure whatever I’m doing looks way better on paper than it does in action! Appearances can definitely be deceiving. Just ask my kids what they think I do all day and I’m sure you’d get an earful of the real deal at La Casita.

As a wife and mom to six kidlets who homeschools, blogs, runs and manages said blog, a small business owner, and a person who can be found putzing about church on any given day attending a meeting, or Mass, or photographing the grounds, my life is a perpetual boxing match between organization and chaos. I detest chaos, but I also get a good case of the “lazies” – I suppose one motivates and keeps the other in check. Once a huge slob, I was forced to take on more organization, not because I like it or am good at it, necessarily, but because it contributes to my ability to function. I spend a lot of time in prayer, but after that I attempt to employ some shockingly simple ways to live my crazy life while retaining some semblance of sanity and structure. This is not a perfect list that is perfectly tackled each day! But, with any goal, it is unchanging, even if I fail when I fail. I hope to be some inspiration for the organizationally challenged – it might help knowing I am not naturally inclined towards being organized. In fact, my natural default is to sit on the sofa and watch t.v., and eat bon bons, naturally, but at some point when you decide to ask God to place certain things on your heart and for a change in attitude, you have to be prepared when that message comes through!!

PRAY. When my life is off the rails, the first question I ask is “how is my prayer life?” It seems so simple and yet it is a common component of our lives that is all-too-easy to overlook when determining where our spiritual pitfalls are. I heard a FAB-U-LOUS homily recently by Father Brian McMaster. He zeroed in on prayer being the core of all we do. Without prayer, we tend to lose our spiritual alignment, and fast! I notice a HUGE correlation between my prayer life and what I get done on any given day. This isn’t to say my days are without problems, but prayer always helps center me in such a way that I can respond to whatever happens with more patience and charity. I find my focus is in the right direction and I am resting in His plan because I spent time talking to our Father. Each day, I spend time in prayer before I get out of bed each morning. I have six kiddos, so timing is important. I find that my energy toward prayer is very different than at the end of the day {at the end of the day, it just feels like something that has to be crossed off the to-do list}. Father Uche said once that if you love someone, you want to spend time with them, just like those of us who are married should feel toward our spouse. Make prayer…God your number one.

*BEAR* MINIMUM. I came up with this phrase recently. Bear minimum should be at most a handful of things that you absolutely must get done each day to feel some level of accomplishment, otherwise the result is a GROWLY momma, which leads to cranky kids and hubby, hence the title bear and not bare minimum.  This will vary from person to person, and even from day to day or month to month. My current top three are 1) prayer {preferably before I get out of bed}, 2) make up my bed. This is my one chore that even if I get absolutely nothing else done for the day, if I haven’t made up my bed – the day is a total and complete WASTE, and 3) getting my daily chores done. Years ago, I brought FlyLady into our home and eventually created my own daily schedule of daily chores. I highly recommend checking out her website for inspiration to determine your bear minimum.

A typical lazy homeschool morning.
A typical lazy homeschool morning.

CHORES. Is there anyone who actually likes doing chores?? I hate chores with a capital H ::shaking fist at dirty toilets and Mt. Washmore, piles of unsorted mail, floor that needs to be swept for the eleventy billionTH time!:: but, there has always been something so ridiculously satisfying about cleaning the house that leaves me feeling a sense of accomplishment. Through the years I have contemplated and almost begged for someone to come in and help clean our house, but pride and…well, lack of funds pretty well dictated that I would need to get over my cleaning hatred and get the family on board with helping. Our mornings are usually very lazy – we start school around 10:30 a.m. when the little man goes down for his nap. We spend his awake time doing our daily chores, cleaning and straightening, breakfast, and then crack the whip once he goes down for his Zzzz’s.

 

DRINK COFFEE. Need I say more?

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 5.38.52 PM

SPEND MORE TIME WITH JESUS. Though I spend most of the day in some sort of prayer – usually in some kind of casual where are you {in these chores} God, it’s me, Martina? type conversation – I invite you to find out how and when God is speaking to you and embrace that and make it part of your daily conversation with Him. It could be conversational prayer, attending daily Mass, going to Adoration, etc.

The day I forgot to take him to his class, I was on a momma high from this event: PROUD momma moment! Jonathan moved up to gold cross today, something typically reserved for 10th graders. He tells me he is the youngest to receive it - he's in 7th grade. At our parish, servers advance as they gain experience, starting with a wooden cross, then moving up to silver cross in middle school and gold cross in high school. The college-aged men wear a blue and red St. Benedict cross.
The day I forgot to take him to his class, I was on a momma high from this event: PROUD momma moment! Jonathan moved up to gold cross today, something typically reserved for 10th graders. He tells me he is the youngest to receive it – he’s in 7th grade. At our parish, servers advance as they gain experience, starting with a wooden cross, then moving up to silver cross in middle school and gold cross in high school. The college-aged men wear a blue and red St. Benedict cross.

CALENDAR*. Whether it’s paper or electronic, storing your important events and activities, yours, hubby’s and the kidlets can be a HUGE time saver. Case in point: One day early in the year, I forgot to put a timer on my phone calendar to remind me to, oh…I dunno…take my middle schooler to his faith formation classes. A couple of hours after it ended, I had my ‘AHA!!!’ moment. I’ll never forget the smug look on the tweenager’s face. Never again, friends. That bad boy is locked in my calendar now – the appointment being the bad boy, not my son. 😉

*Can I interest you in purchasing my downloadable and printable Catholic planner?

PLAN YOUR TIME EFFICIENTLY. For the Kreitzer home, this meant moving to an almost strict diet of no morning appointments after a year of doing just that. Year two of homeschooling I was gone in excess of three times each week in the morning for my own doctor appointments, and I liked to meet with friends for lunch and plan my pastoral council prep meetings with the priests, and anyone else on staff I needed to talk with in the morning. It just got to be too much and the result was that those interruptions of schedule were severely disrupting the flow of not only the homeschool day, but also basic tasks and mundane chores suffered to the point of low to no productivity. And that led to grouchy momma and grouchy kiddos and grouchy hubby. ::see bear minimum::

Screen Shot 2013-11-07 at 5.22.36 PMLISTS. In the same vein as my bear minimum, writing a list helps me focus on what needs to get done for the day or week. I don’t know about anyone else, but when I have a ton of stuff floating around in my head, things tend to feel chaotic. Writing it down sort of puts an anchor on it and helps me gain perspective on what is on my “immediate” list and what can wait. Consider writing a list as a way to de-stressify {is that even a word?} your life.

MAKE YOUR YES MEAN YES. And your no mean no. When I commit to a project, activity, etc., whether for my kiddos, myself, my family, or me and my husband, I make sure I am in it for the long haul. During my three years serving on our parish pastoral council, and two of that serving as the chairperson, it came with a time price tag. I became very good at saying no to things I couldn’t do because, just after my obligation to my primary vocation, I opted to make my role as chairperson the top priority {that included being present for all meetings during my entire term, planning the agendas and retreats, assisting and making my help available for our priests as needed}. Everything else had to come second. That’s not to say I didn’t participate in other activities, but rather I gave priority to being on the council and all else fell in line, after.  I quickly learned firsthand how to apply that approach to everyday situations. Pray and discern before you give your answer so that you can be confident that you are either committed or are confident that now is not the right time. Avoid the temptation to do too much.

FAMILY FIRST. This seems like a no-brainer, but when considering your yes and no on a project, ask yourself will this activity or project help or hurt the family dynamic? At my parish, there is ALWAYS something going on – the sign of a very healthy and vibrant parish! But too much, even of a good thing, can have disastrous consequences on the home front. I work really hard {or try, at least} at not being too involved in activities at church because it’s important for our family to be together, first. What keeps me focused is knowing that my husband and children each have their own activities. We start by nurturing the domestic church and then ripple out into parish activities. Pray, spend time together as a family and God will bless how you spend the rest of your time. 🙂

EAT TOGETHER. In the spirit of family firstno matter how busy you are or think you are, make time to eat together. We have been guilty of not employing this simple tip for many years and moving to a much smaller home sort of forced the issue. We eat almost all of our meals together now and the bonding time is unrivaled. Are you too busy to eat together? Pick one meal each week in which everyone must be present for dinner, no exceptions – dads included. Once this small change to the family dynamic occurs, you’ll start to see how much more you’ll want to eat together.

GO ON DATE NIGHTS. In or out of the home, make it a point to connect with your spouse…often. My husband and I have a standing date night. We usually eat in, but occasionally go out. We treat ourselves to a nice dinner, and I pick up some wine for my hubby or occasionally get a mini-Keg because that’s what he likes. He usually washes the dishes – because that’s what I like. 😉 It’s not always about getting dressed up and going out, but spending time together and connect, unwind…and usually fall asleep because the kids have been banished errm, lovingly redirected to their bedrooms. Click here for some date night ideas.

Cute kidlet strikes again!
Cute kidlet strikes again!

ENJOY BEING AT HOME. As a homebody and introvert, this now comes easy for me. Even if you are an on-the-go extrovert who LOVES being away from home, it’s nice to be able to relax when you are home. I used to love leaving the house to do almost anything away from it because I found the amount of work involved with being home to be too…suffocating. I always felt very anxious at home because the state of my physical and internal prayer life was not in right order. Once I prayed for guidance on how to handle my anxiety about it all, I discovered that my own attitude was largely at fault for my lack of enjoyment at home. My home is not picture perfect – and it never will be with a constant stream of babies and toddlers {cute ones, mind you!} drawing all over my walls, but I am learning to just be at home and know that if I bless my children and home with my time, time I spend elsewhere will be blessed as well.

That's one way to bond with your kiddo!
That’s one way to bond with your kiddo!

BLESS YOUR CHILDREN WITH…YOU. Be with your kids. Sometimes the best gift you can give them is just being in their presence. Consider how contemplative prayer works and apply that with the time you spend with your children. Kids don’t always want or need to talk to be with you. Sometimes just being with them, holding them, hugging and kissing them is all you need to strengthen that bond. You know what brings me back to this? Hearing my kids talk about how busy I am with this project or that meeting. Even though my activities are always faith related, their sweet little voices remind me to strive for balance, to be at home more than I am other places, whether physical or mental.

REST. Get a good night’s rest. As I write this, I am coming off multiple nights of not following this simple advice. You’d be surprised at how much of my daily problems could be solved by a nice, homemade meal and a good night’s rest!

 

If you have a face, and sister has a marker, you *will* be drawn on.
If you have a face, and sister has a marker, you *will* be drawn on.

LAUGHSeriously, don’t take the Faith so seriously that you lose your ability to relate to others. Laugh with others and be kind. I find that a great deal of my time talking about the Faith does require me to take such a serious tone that I literally have to laugh in order to balance things out. So, laugh. Smile at others. Disarm them with your charm. Throw in a hug, too, if the three-foot bubble doesn’t apply.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF. You didn’t get things done on your to-do list today. Today’s accomplishments consisted of getting out of bed and maybe brushing your teeth before you went to bed. You might have slapped deodorant on…one armpit. That’s ok, mijos! When you can’t get to your usual list of things to do, adapt to meet the demands of the day and forget the rest. Which leads me to my next point…

MATTHEW 6:34Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.

RINSE AND REPEAT.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN TO SOUND OFF:

What are some things YOU do to tame your crazy life? Share in the comments, please!

::Instagram pictures pulled from my personal account – find me and join the fun with me @MartinaCatholicSistas::