Finding Balance with Ashley Canipe

When I wrote a post about how I schedule my work week and how I get it all done as a stay at home mom of a toddler and business owner of a growing, thriving business, the response was overwhelming. I quickly realized how many of you needed guidance for creating your own schedule and finding balance between work and life. I realized that we all want a glimpse of how others are making it work so we can better structure our own lives. 

I believe that balance does exist and is actually necessary for our sanity and well being. Even though I hear often that balance doesn't exist, I feel that we each have our own version of balance and that we can find it in our lives. It's a process that we're all constantly living in and adjusting to in different seasons.

Because of this, I was inspired to start this series featuring other busy women and business owners sharing how they manage their schedules and work towards work/life balance. This series features talented and encouraging women like you and a look into what balance looks like for them. The idea is to share a real-life version of balance and how we each have our own variation of it depending on our life and season. 

Finding Balance Series

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business or work.

I am a wife to my wonderful husband and mama to our two little girls (Bridgett (4) and Libby (21 months). A couple of years ago we made a big cross-country move from Colorado to Charleston, South Carolina. While it’s been a big change I’m slowly but surely falling in love with the South. Most days you’ll find me on our living room floor playing dolls, singing Daniel Tiger songs on repeat, or in the kitchen sweeping up Cheerios and/or Goldfish crumbs. In the early mornings and late evenings, I like to spend my time creating, writing, and dreaming up new blog posts for The Littles & Me where I share ideas to help families celebrate and play together.

Take us through your typical day and your main daily responsibilities.

Since my main job title is mama, my days typically involve lots of playing, snacking, and sneaking in household responsibilities when I find the time. Most days are spent at home playing in our living room or in our backyard, but I have found that I’m a much better mama when I intentionally take time to get outside the house.

Our morning outings (which really is just a fancy way of saying that we go outside of our house) are different each day of the week. Mondays tend to be a regroup day from the weekend and are usually spent grocery shopping and running any other errands. Tuesday and Thursday mornings we tend to stay in our neighborhood playing with friends. Wednesdays we explore somewhere in Charleston (ex: beach, new park historical site, walk around downtown, or if I’m really brave, go to a restaurant/coffee shop). Fridays are the one day that I have blocked out 100% to work or go to appointments without kiddos tagging along. My husband hangs with the girls and I usually head to a coffee shop to work.

On a typical day or should I say ideal day (I laugh at the term ‘typical’ because are there any typical days when you have kids?) I go to Pure Barre at 6 am and arrive back to our house around 7:30. When I get home my husband and the girls are usually eating breakfast. I pour a big cup of coffee and join them. After my husband leaves for work we clean up breakfast and turn on our current favorite worship music. While the girls are playing I try to get ready for the day or do a load of laundry. Around 9-10 we usually get outside of the house for a couple of hours even if that means just going on a walk around our neighborhood. Lunchtime is around noon and Libby takes a nap from 1-3:30. Bridgett gave up her naps long ago so she usually watches an episode (or sometimes 2) of Daniel Tiger and then plays while I try to work. I don’t always do blog work at this time, it really just depends on the week. Once Libby wakes up we have a snack, play, and then I start dinner around 5. After dinner is our bedtime routine which includes playing for a bit, bath, jammies, and climbing up on Bridgett’s bed to read books together. Depending on the night of the week, after the girls go to bed my husband and I will either watch a show (we’re currently re-watching the Office), read, or I’ll work on my blog and since we own a small business my husband will work on catching up on office work. Some nights we go to bed shortly after the girls do, because let’s be real…this season of littles is exhausting.

How do you manage your schedule?

I am a paper and pen kind of gal. I’ve tried so many apps and online management tools, but I always come back to my tried and true Simplified Planner.

What is one thing you always make time for?

Date night! Since we don't have family nearby and didn’t have a reliable babysitter for a really long time we quickly learned that going out weekly was not going to be possible. Enter weekly date night at home. A friend of mine shared this idea with me and it’s been so amazing for my husband and I. Each Tuesday night we feed the girls and put them to bed a little earlier than usual so that my husband and I can have dinner together. Often we’ll go pick up a fun meal to go or we’ll cook something together. It’s been wonderful for our marriage to connect each week over a meal without kids. The cutest thing is that Bridgett (our 4 year old) has caught on and she asks each week if we are going to have a date night. To which I always reply, “Yeah, girl!”

Finding Balance Series

How do you find rest?

I must say that it takes a lot of intentional planning to create space for rest, but it’s so important. I’m slowly learning that true rest is only found in Jesus. I love what Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) has to say about rest. “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn how to live freely & lightly.”

Some of my favorite ways to refuel include spending phone-free days with my family, taking a bubble bath after the girls go to bed, or spending time in the mountains or near the ocean.

How do you find the balance between work and home?

If I’m completely honest, it has been a struggle to find the balance between work and home. For a long time I would try to multi-task when the girls were playing, but then I found myself getting extremely frustrated when I wasn’t quite finished and needed to cut whatever I was doing short in order to help them. The ironic part about this is that I often blog about spending time with your family and being fully present.

It’s amazing what happens when you carve out time to work and also carve out time to put it all away and be fully present with your family. While I don’t always do this perfectly and sometimes when the girls are playing so nicely I’m tempted to pull out my computer and get a little bit of work done. It’s in those moments that I try to remind myself that the days that I don’t multi-task are way less frazzled and are filled with way more joy.

Tell us one thing that you have learned about finding balance in your life.

This past January I stepped away from social media and my blog to pause, refocus, take a big breath in and an ever bigger exhale. While I could go on and on about how incredible this time was, I think the main thing that I learned was the importance of creating a weekly rhythm of stepping away.

When I came back to the social media scene I was blown away by how noisy it was and how easy it was to get sucked into mindlessly scrolling and let’s be honest ignoring my girls because of it. I knew that I needed to make a change. I’ve always loved and admired Lara Casey and her rhythm of taking social media free weekends. At the beginning of this year when I felt compelled to make a big change I knew that social media on the weekends had to go. It was a hard habit to break at first, but goodness it’s been SO worth it.

What is one piece of advice you would give readers about finding their own balance?

Balance really looks so different for every family. Figure out what your best YES is and forget the rest. It’s so easy to feel the need to fill your schedule with all the things (even the good things), but if what you are saying yes to is causing you anxiety, stress, and pulling you in a million different directions that’s definitely not healthy. It’s perfectly fine to do less really well. Most importantly, try to figure out that sweet spot of what balance looks like for your family and be confident in that decision.

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