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January 13, 2020
For the past few weeks we’ve been talking about how to actually win at parenting without losing ourselves. Last week we talked about becoming intentional about our dreams.
Jamie works full time at a start-up tech company. Her work requires more than a nine-to-five commitment. There are evening meetings, early morning deadlines, and fierce competition among her colleagues for the corner office.
She also has a rambunctious two-year-old daughter – the kind of toddler who tries to climb up into the refrigerator, clumsily pull the orange juice out, and attempt to pour her own beverage into an adult glass every morning; the type of little one who screams “It’s just not fair” whenever she’s told it’s time for bed.
Jamie has a strong group of friends from her high school and college years, but she doesn’t see them or talk with them as often as she’d like. She wants to get back to painting – a passion she spent hours on before her daughter arrived – but there’s never enough time.
“It’s difficult to figure out how to do it all,” she says. “The worst part is, it feels like I’m hardly ever doing what I want to do. Instead, I’m almost always doing what I have to do.”
Jamie, like most modern moms, has a hard time intentionally spending time on things that actually matter, but she doesn’t have to waste her time and energy.
Last week we talked about dreaming big. Dreaming big allows us to understand our “why”; it helps us understand where we’re going in the next month or year or even ten years. Figuring out our priorities, on the other hand, helps us to get granular about how much time we’ll give to one area or another on a daily basis.
Remember, this is fluid and depends entirely on the stage of motherhood you’re in right now. When you have a newborn, your priority is making sure you’re taken care of, making sure your baby is taken care of, and …yep, that’s about it. And it’s enough, Mama! When your baby or toddler, or even a little older, you’ll be in a completely different stage, …and with that stage will come more sleep and more brain space for bigger dreams and bigger plans. So, give yourself grace.
My friend Christie is a business executive coach. She spends all day guiding leaders personally and professionally as they make million-dollar decisions. One night, discussing life at a bar, she took a cocktail napkin and wrote out the major categories of life—kids, spouse, work, exercise, friendships, hobbies, homemaking, travel and experiences, and appearance. For clarification, exercise to me meant releasing endorphins, stress reduction, and meditation, whereas appearance included everything that goes into looking put together (including exercise for the purpose of having a good appearance).
She wrote them in random order and then asked me to rank them in order in the left-hand column according to what I, in an ideal world, would spend the most time doing. “Rank them as a private, honest list, not based at all on what other people would think is the right way to rank them,” she said.
I called it my ideal list.
1. Exercise and stress reduction
3. Travel and experiences
4. Hobbies and sports (including writing and reading)
7. Homemaking (tasks such as laundry and dishes)
In the next column, she asked me to rank what I thought I spent my time on.
Here is my reality list.
4. Hobbies and sports
8. Exercise and stress reduction
9. Travel and experiences
Then, she told me to compare them.
That comparison was scary, Mama. I didn’t like at all how I was spending my time in the real world versus how I wanted to be spending it in my ideal world. So, I changed it. I switched it up. I decided I would spend way more of my time and energy on the top three items on my Ideal List, as opposed to the top three things on my Reality List. Why? Because joy lived at the top of the Ideal List. Stress and resentment found their unhappy home at the top of the Reality List.
To put your priorities into action, you’re going to have to get strategic. You’ll need to do three things with the majority of the tasks you feel like you have to get to, but you can’t stand doing (or that suck up way too much time and energy): either delegate them, automate them, or completely forget about them. Too much time on grocery shopping? Shop online at Amazon or Instagram. You’re the only one in your home who does any cooking or cleaning? Time to get your partner or your village involved. Spending a whole lot of effort choosing your clothes every morning and getting yourself ready for the day? Simplify your routine and get strategic about what’s in your closet. You will still spend some of your moments on things that don’t matter, but those things cannot and should not define you. If you give them less time and brain space, they won’t.
Next week, we’ll dive into the next core area successful moms are intentional about: making space for themselves. Missed last week’s blog on being intentional about your dreams? Read it here.
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