Priorities & Planning
Today is the last installment (for now) of How to Do All The Things. I have completed my first series. This is a big day. It likely won’t be the last post about this topic because, as I said before, this is something that is very important to me. I am firmly against mommy-martyrdom and the tone that is often heard in certain motherhood communities which conveys this feeling that being a victim to your children, your schedules, basically your whole life, is the best that it can get and aspiring to do better is somehow insulting to all the other moms who can’t get it together. No. Things can get better. This job of motherhood is as hard or as easy as you make it. Having your priorities in order is something that makes it much easier.
So how do you do that? How does one chose their priorities? You ask yourself what is actually important; not what should be important, or what this person over here thinks is important, but “what are the areas in my life that are truly most important to me.” It has been my experience that sometimes the things I said were important and the things I actually prioritized were different. When I was struggling in that first year of motherhood I often said that a good diet was most important, but my actions often proved otherwise when I was exhausted and just wanted to eat – there were a lot of pizza rolls and jalapeño poppers for dinner. Later on, when I had a better grip on things, I said that keeping the whole house clean was a priority, but after tending to all the other priorities I had at the time I was almost always too tired to clean.
Here’s what I’ve learned: I, and I believe most people, can only manage a few top priorities at a time. What I mean is that even though this is about How to Do All The Things, you can’t actually do every single thing every day. Every day can’t be laundry day, cleaning day, blogging day, pattern writing day, homeschool day, garden day, and make a homemade lasagna day, all at the same time. I mean, have you ever made homemade lasagna? It takes 6 hours, at least when I do it. So how do I choose which of those things are most important? I look at which things I actually do each day. Not the things that I say I want to do, should do, or so-and-so says they do. I said I would make homemade bread, have the kitchen totally cleaned, laundry done, garden weeded, and my children played peacefully every day before 10 am. (Go ahead and laugh at that naivety.) But what I actually did was leave the dishes for during naptime, get my second or third cup of coffee, and maybe get dressed before 10am.
When I finally got over my idealism, I started operating under this premise: what are the things my family needs done every day. Yes they need clean laundry and plates to eat on, no they do not need dinner to be an elaborate homemade meal. Yes I need to write a new blog post, the bathrooms can wait until the weekend to be cleaned.
Let’s look at this in application. These are my current daily priorities:
Laundry, Blog, Meals,
Yes, that is it. If I get those three things taken care of by the end of the day then I am winning like Charlie Sheen. The biggest thing I have done to help myself is give my over-achieving heart some grace.
The really awesome thing is that expanding this practice from the day-to-day to weekly and monthly is easy to do. First, get you a paper calendar, a nice one, one that has the whole month at a glance and then full pages for the day. My preferred brand is Day Designer, but there are oodles of customizable calendars out there so you can make anything you like.
I start my monthly planning with the month at a glance for the next month, usually a week or two before the end of the current month. First, I write in the weekly event like when blog posts are due, Wednesday night church, upcoming family events, all that easy stuff. Then I put in my once a month things like meal planning for the next month, blog planning for the next month. I also make sure to arrange one day a month when I take time to do something just for fun. If I don’t plan it I won’t do it and then I’ll slowly morph into a crazy person with no hobbies. No one enjoys me in that state.
And that is it. That is the general way I go about doing all the things. Does it work out perfectly every day? Lol. No. But this is the goal, not the product. Remembering that is what keeps me going even when my days are impromptu pajama days rather than super productive days.