As a stay-at-home-mom it is especially important to set goals and get after them. We are often on our own as adults; we have to be our own boss and our own employee. We have to push and motivate ourselves to reach new heights, become the best versions of ourselves, realize our dreams, and accomplish results. Achieving your win is all about planning ahead. When you plan in advance, do all that you can to prepare, and be realistic about what you can accomplish in honest time parameters, you are setting yourself up for success. A successful day to a stay-at-home-mom can be anything from nailing nap times to getting laundry done to getting your workout in. Identify what goals you need to hit in order to go to bed knowing you won the day.
In order to flourish it is paramount to identify specific goals and implement a practical system in order to win. For me, winning on a school/work day usually means that I get a workout, eat well, maintain an orderly house, stay on top of the laundry, get kids to school and their activities on time, have a positive and intentional time with each of them and all together, and have time for connection, fun, and romance with My Love. That’s a lot of big goals for a stay-at-home mom of four! It can be done most days if I plan ahead.
Here are some examples of how I can plan ahead to win the day:
- Workout: If I want to workout, I know I have to dress in my exercise clothes in the morning which means I need them set out the night before so I’m not searching in the dirty laundry for my sports bra in the morning, have my stroller packed in the car, have a few activities and snacks in my bag for the kids, drive directly to the YMCA after taking Lily and Lucy to school, and do my absolute best at stroller fit class. I leave there by 10:30 and I know I am crushing my fitness plan!
- Eat well: My eating goals right now are to stick to my weight watchers plan. I want to lose five more post-baby pounds and to do that, Weight Watchers is the way for me! It can be so tough to stay on track if I don’t plan ahead because if I’m out and I get hungry I don’t care how many points the chicken pot pie at KFC is I am going to eat it. So, I know I need to get coffee and cream in the morning, a smoothie in before noon, lentils or tunafish and veggies for a late lunch, and a well-planned dinner probably consisting of chicken and veggies and lentils. I know from experience if I choose to skip any one of these steps in a day, I will probably go over my points and I will not lose weight. I have to make the connection in my mind that NOT making my smoothie, or NOT eating lunch on time, will almost certainly derail me and when I let that happen I am really saying to myself that my 5 pound weight loss goal isn’t really important. Thinking this way motivates me to succeed!
- Orderly house and laundry: This one is so simple in that I know what needs to be done to achieve success, but so complicated in that so many things can go wrong and get me off course on the home front. I know that if I check that the girls are putting away their own things and doing their chores, my job will be easier. Auston and I can then stay up a few minutes after they’re in bed to finish work like dishes, sweeping, and wiping down the kitchen, do a load of laundry and fold and put away, and we will wake up to an orderly home. But if we get lazy, if we decide to lay down “just for a few minutes to watch The Office,” or decide the girls are too tired to put their toys away and can do it tomorrow, we are out-of-order already. Throw in a bed-wetting accident from one child and a last-minute-science-project that’s due tomorrow and suddenly the laundry is overflowing the baskets and the house is in total chaos. That’s okay, it will happen, but if we generally identify the systems that work to maintain peace in the home and stick to it we are all free to do more of what we want.
- Get kids to school and activities on time: For me, getting kids to school on time comes down to making lunches the night before, waking up on time, and leaving 15 minutes before we actually need to leave. Theses three things take planning and dedication but they create a win for the morning, and we all know if you win the morning you win the day! Getting the first item of the day done right makes the rest of the day flow smoothly and allows for time to plan the next activity and make it on time and with the items and children you need. It’s a punctuality domino game. Girls get to school on time, I get a coffee and to stroller fitness early, get home with plenty of time for lunch and nap and laundry (HEY-O! there’s my eating clean goal and laundry goal coming alive!), giving us time to get chores and random paper work or bills taken care of before getting Lily and Lucy at school and going to whatever is next which right now could be a basketball game, rock-climbing lesson, gymnastics, swim lesson, or cheer practice!
- Connect with my kids: I recently heard that it takes five positive interactions to undo the damage one negative interaction can have on a relationship. It’s very easy to have bad moments with my girls and my husband. I can snap at him for riling up the girls too close to bed time, I get frustrated with the girls for fighting, making messes, or not doing their homework, and I don’t want to lay in bed any night realizing that my connections with the people most important to me were negative. So, I plan quality connections. These can be simple and easy but take intent or they can be forgotten. I talk with them on the way to and from school, most nights we play a game called “who’s in front of the bed” (this is mostly a daddy/daughter game but I sometimes join in), and I read to them and talk with them before lights out. In order for this to happen, I know we need to be upstairs getting pj’s and teeth brushed by 7, which means a 6 o’clock dinner is ideal, which means I’m starting dinner no later than 5:30… and so you see how the planning for a simple but important thing like connecting with my kids starts so much earlier than the actual event.
- Connect with my husband: If you’re like us, then your husband is at work most of the day. Which means you spend the majority of your waking hours apart. I hate this. I absolutely hate it. It kills me sometimes and causes stress and insecurity and anxiety and frustration. I didn’t marry my best friend so we could spend our lives apart. In order to combat the stress this can put on our marriage, we have found it is so important to really connect when we are together. Then, when we’re apart, it is so good to think back over the night or weekend of fun we had together whether it was talking, laughing, watching a good movie, dreaming of and planning for our future together, going out on a date… Don’t neglect your marriage, and it be a well-spring of joy and love and the soil from which your children will grow, flourish, and thrive. Plan for time together, commit to being best friends and lovers, and never think that you have done enough to nurture your marriage because it always benefits from more.
So, that’s what I’ve learned about planning and preparation so far in my 12 years of marriage and 10 years of motherhood. Define your goal, identify your system, implement your system, tweak your system, achieve your goal. Every day I learn more and grow into what God has made me to be. I make mistakes, I learn, I forget, I learn again, I find joy and rediscover joy every day!