Summer has landed here in Ohio!
Last week (wait, two weeks - eek!) my parents were in town visiting from CA. They caught most of the kids' end of school year activities and now we're officially on summer break. We've spent the days playing with water to stay cool, sweating through T-ball practices, making new friends at day camp, and retreating to the a/c in the afternoon for naps and good books....or in my case, to steal a few minutes at the computer with an iced cup o' caffeine.
I've tried implementing summer schedules in the past, but this year I'm letting us fall into a natural rhythm that works with the baby's naps, kids' activities, and the weather. For now it looks something like this:
breakfast....play/activity/nap...lunch...quiet time/nap/blog...play...dinner....family time.
Not exactly structure, but enough of a daily rhythm for us to fit in some fun, some chores, and some blogging.
A lot of bloggers take a step back during the summer, but I'm eying my 2-3 posts per month "schedule" and am itching to dive back in. Ok, maybe not dive, but I'm hoping to use this summer to ease back into a more regular blogging routine after a newborn blogging hiatus.
I would love to bring some more consistency to the blog - for your sake and mine! Believe me, I know it hasn't been my strong suit. I love this spot on the www and I love all of you. So, I have a solution - low standards, my friends. That's right. I look at my first attempt and say, nice but lower. Then maybe even lower one more time.
I'm ready to blog again! Posting five days a week sounds great!
Simmer down there, Killer. You know you won't be able to do that.
How about 4 days a week?
Better, but know thyself.
Yes, lets start with 2 posts per week.
This isn't laziness or coming back half-heartedly. It's just recognizing what's realistic, so that I can deliver quality posts and avoid burnout/discouragement. I actually have a backlog of projects to share (a first!), and I feel better returning to a regular schedule knowing I already have some posts in the hopper.
Over the past 5 months since having Livy (how has it been that long?!?!), I've taken a lot of time to think/pray/mull over this blog. One of the blessings that came from having a colicky baby who wanted to be held around the clock was that I couldn't type on a keyboard very well. Instead I did a lot of reading on blogging, business, organization, graphic design, and personal practices. I filled up notebook pages with sketches and ideas. The blog's had a bit of an identity crisis over the past year, and since we're technically no longer a house for five, it feels like the right time to give the blog a fresh look, better branding, and a narrowed focus.
I've always had difficulty reigning myself in, both in my home and blogging. I just like so many things. I love color - use them all! I have so many ideas - attempt them all! I enjoy so many topics - blog them all!
While I do enjoy reading blogs that cover a number of topics, I also appreciate when there is consistency within that variety. I think you might too.
So which ones? Over the years, I've blogged everything from DIY to, purging, design, organization, kid stuff, room makeovers, recipes, fashion, faith, family/motherhood, blogging, and moving. Clearly, I lost my sense of direction for awhile.
Not only was I all over the place as far as blog content, but I was also setting schedules and expectations for myself that I could not maintain. I questioned my ideas and started thinking of projects that would be well received or expected by readers in the blog world instead of what actually worked for our home and family at the time.
The holidays were the worst. I felt like I should have been sharing an awesome holiday home tour, putting together gift guides with smart little graphics, crafting up homemade gifts ideas, blogging our family's best holiday recipes, setting a stunning holiday table, and the list goes on and on. And why? Some of those things I really would love to do, but not all of them. I couldn't differentiate between the two because I was too busy looking at what other blogs were doing.
I had a house epiphany awhile back. We were having friends (a large family) over for dinner and as I was cleaning/prepping for their arrival I realized that all I wanted was for them to feel welcome and comfortable.....that some of the "pretty" I had been trying to bring into my home was a result of what was popular and all over DIY/home blogs, but wasn't creating the feeling I wanted in my own home. I had fogged up my own creative lens and sense of style with a constant intake of "inspiration".
I've since cleaned up my blog reader. I kept the blogs where I still find inspiration, encouragement, and helpful info, but I ditched the ones that didn't fit my aesthetic or left me feeling like less. Some I only had in my feed because they were popular anyway....and it was freeing to let them go. I also added a couple new blogs that feel like cheerleaders in what we're trying to create in our own home and within our family.
Once I let go of needing to be like the blogs I read and admired, I could look at my own blog as a unique landing spot. A clear direction finally began to take shape when I considered the blog from our reader's point of view. I looked at the posts that got your views, the ones that engaged the most conversation or seemed to strike a chord, and the ones I truly enjoyed writing. I thought about where we are currently as a family and what we could offer to those in a similar state of life or with similar interests. I thought a lot about who I'm blogging for and why they read....yet recognize that I can't please everyone and the blog will lose its identity if I try.
I hope we've landed on something that will bring you encouragement and some practical help in this gift of making home. With that said, here's how things are looking going forward....
New Blogging PlatformWe're in the process of moving everything over to a new blogging platform and doing a little rebranding as we go. The switch should be transparent for you, fingers crossed. The blog address will stay www.houseforfive.com, but hopefully the new look will be more user friendly for readers and easier for me behind the scenes. We're all about smarter not harder these days. Putting on my realist pants, I'm aiming to have the new site ready around mid-July.
A Refined Focus, With An Overarching ThemeHere's where I did a lot of clean-up. I knew which topics I definitely want to stay: easy DIY, budget friendly home projects, organization/systems that make life less stressful. But what else?
I've dabbled in a lot of different topics over the years, so it really helped to identify what we're not.
This is not a fashion blog, nor a baby blog. It's not a theology blog. It's not even a design blog.
I'm not an interior designer, a fashionista, a builder, or a chef.
I'm a wife and mom that gets a lot of joy from working on her home and creating a space that speaks to our family.
I'm a chronic list maker and planner. I can't help but look at a room or an old piece of furniture and see what it could become. If something in our home is set up in a way that makes us crazy, I like finding ways to make it un-crazy.
But there's one other thing. Something I've felt pulled to for some time - a simpler life. Ridding ourselves of the excess and being content where we are; finding systems that make life easier; fighting the draw towards more stuff to focus on what we truly need, use, and love; living on less....and letting the Jones' take the trophy, while we stop to put out a picnic blanket in the middle of the race.
This is the theme I feel lead to weave throughout our blog as we try to live it out in our own home. And it will be a good gauge for me when I feel like wondering into other topics. So, if I'm sharing a post on clothes, instead of "here's a cute outfit" it should be "key pieces to a versatile wardrobe" or "how to save money on quality clothes". Instead of buying a bunch of new stuff for a holiday mantle, we might chat ideas for using items we already have around the house or ways to create something new on the cheap.
ShopThis is something I've planned to do for over a year, but my inner perfectionist keeps saying "not yet, a few more tweaks". I've been creating products for an Etsy shop for over a year (and have offered some on the blog as free printables in the past) but just haven't pulled the trigger. I have a laundry list of items I still want to update and create before officially opening the doors, but hello. It's been a year. There comes a point you have to stop planning and just do it.
Ok, that felt good. Now you know. I'm working to open a shop with tools to make your life less stressful and prints that will keep you inspired. I was shooting for June 1st but that didn't fall into the "realistic/attainable" category with aforementioned colicky baby. Now that Liv has settled and is slightly more predictable with naptimes, I don't really have a good excuse. So, the shop is coming at the end of summer! Help hold me to it [perfect or not]?
Alright, end novella.
Thank you so much for being patient with me...for hanging in there when I've been all over the place and have taken a step back to focus on family.....for making this a place that's worth putting in the time and that I really can't wait to get back to.
Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!