I am sitting this holiday morning in the house that I grew my children in.  Here we raised lambs and goats and chickens and colts and a couple steers; where any given Saturday or Sunday morning could find unexpected teenaged bodies flopped sound asleep across my living room, arms and legs dangling over the edge of the sofa or arms of chairs as though some explosion had thrown them there.

A lot of memories were made in this house. It was a place of activity, growth and creativity, laughter and teenaged angst.  Felt tip marker identifies where pictures were colored; a bent heater vent displays someone’s foot expressing impulsive anger.  Here is the wall I papered while my then husband took our children away for two weeks (that was what I thought a vacation was in those years – everyone gone from home except me).

My mother spent a lot of time at my house.  Often, it was spent cleaning up after us, as I was not a stay-at-home mom, I was a doing-everything-but! Mom.  Besides working full time, we had 4H, FFA and Equestrian Team and later High School Rodeo, which took us out on the road 10 weeks a year.  I was a “lets tidy the barn” mom, while the living room could rock on it’s own with co-mingled clean and dirty laundry, dogs, books and toys laying about, waiting for the Saturday morning fit of cleaning.

Less clutter of both stuff and time makes everything simpler, and in simplicity, planning is easier.  I know I brought some of my own issues to the organized chaos that was our lives – afraid to say “no” to work or activities, trying to prove I was worthy of love, trying to prove as an educated, middle income woman, I could do and have it all.  (Not!)

As a family we rarely planned our activities to include my mother – in part because she didn’t want us to arrange our lives to meet her needs – but that was exactly how life was arranged.  Without intention it was often chaotic, haphazard and crisis-oriented.  Planning things together would have enabled us to utilize her energy and outside resources better so our time together wasn’t just spent doing errands. We could have done more of what I’m remembering this morning: Skip Bo and Scrabble at this dining table, 8 years of Christmas mornings in this living room, her grandchildren in jammies tucked under her arm as presents were doled out; Sunday dinners that brought everyone together.

We had love, we had animals, we had stuff, we had fun.  We had each other.  What we lacked was a plan – a vision for serenity in the midst of the jumble of activities and overlapping needs of three generations.  A plan for abrupt change in needs.  A plan for my spouse and I to get some rest and respite from juggling all that we did.

As a New Year shines on the horizon, I pose this challenge to you:  in the midst of organizing around your family needs, make a plan for self care so that you can more ably care for those you love, more intentionally spend loving time (not just busy-ness) with them. Time misspent is time lost to us…

I will post more on planning schemes and those things that should be considered in the multi-generational family during the coming weeks.  Let’s make 2013 the year that brings organized harmony, identification of family resources and confidence to your maturing family!

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Holiday Jolly, 2007

Love to you and Blessed Family-ing!

Katherine