I have always loved to write. Since becoming a mom, however, I can barely complete a thought let alone write. My brain is constantly spinning with a myriad of details: signing papers; packing snacks, lunches, school bags and a diaper bag; returning calls; finishing work-related tasks; planning the meals and activities; buying the groceries…you get the picture. If you read my Mommy Brain post, you may already understand that my mind struggles to keep up with it all.
I have so little time to think, to reflect, to process and assign meaning to the day’s events. Everyone says (and I’m starting to believe) the years when your kids are young are gone in the blink of an eye. I mean, how do I have a rising first grader?! When did my sweet middle child learn to ride a bike?! How did we just celebrate my baby’s first birthday?!
These are monumental, yet my mind cannot properly preserve these precious memories. I want to remember each and every detail of these hectic, bleary-eyed, wonderful days. I want to remember the way my baby cough-laughs when I tickle her and the sweet bedtime routines we have with our older girls, listening to music with our oldest and kissing our middle child “last more” time. I know I can’t stop this train, but I desperately want to remember the scenery and the ride.
As a way to slow down and fully immerse myself in the moments of motherhood, I decided to try journaling. My dear friend, Amy, inspired me. She has kept a daily journal for more than 10 years! It’s fascinating for her to look back on the same day’s entry from the previous years and see how God was providently shaping her future. I thought I would be too busy and too tired to journal, but it soon became one of my favorite ways to relax. I love how it makes me feel more mindful and grateful instead of feeling rushed and stressed all the time. It often elucidates how I am really feeling about a certain situation. This is beneficial in making decisions and/or assessing whether a shift in direction or a complete change of course needs to be made.
Journaling isn’t meant to be complicated or overwhelming. Moms certainly don’t have the time or energy for anything that is. So this is not a treatise on journaling but a few quick and easy tips on how to get started.
- Select your journaling style – There are many different ways to journal, and there is no right or wrong way to do it. I started journaling with a style called stream-of-consciousness writing or “free writing.” You basically just write any thoughts that are in your head. I still find this style very helpful when I want to clear my mind, but I often supplement this style with other exercises I have discovered along the way. If you buy a journal with prompts, like my favorite journal from Anthropologie (pictured below), it will help guide your journaling. This is great for beginners. As you continue journaling, the style you use may change or evolve over time. During different seasons of life, your mind may need to process things differently. You may want to journal about a specific topic like places you travel or about a specific time frame like during pregnancy.
- Buy a journal – The importance of this step should not be downplayed because of its obviousness. After you have selected your journaling style, the fun of buying the perfect journal begins. There are so many swoon-worthy journals available! Check out the CMB Pinterest board “Mom’s Guide to Journaling” for help selecting the perfect journal for you! You can also use journaling apps like Penzu or Day One, though it could defeat the purpose somewhat due to the temptation of technological distractions.
- Pick a time and place – The time may be contingent on what type of journaling you choose. Early morning is great for organizing your plans for the day or for deciphering dreams, whereas before bed may be best for reflecting on the day. Inspiration is not confined to a specific time, however, so be prepared to take quick notes during the day and expound them later. The place you journal is (I believe) paramount. You want it to be quiet, free from distractions and yet appealing to your senses. Because we can’t always be at the beach or on a beautiful overlook (darn!), create a comfortable place in your home to inspire you. Light a candle, grab a delicious beverage, get cozy and get to it! You’ll be surprised just how enjoyable and beneficial journaling can be!