I don’t need convincing that living and mothering deliberately is the only way to go. I see that being intentional naturally requires me to keep my priorities ever before me as a guide. But what are my priorities? It turns out that answering this question is a process. I am realizing that I actually have to put ‘making priorities’ at the top of my list of–well, priorities, or it just doesn’t happen.
I happily discovered “The Power of Moms” several months ago, and I immediately printed, read, highlighted, and implemented a bunch of great ideas.
I was lucky enough to win the Mind Organization for Moms (M.O.M.) program in a recent contest. I am so excited to have at last encountered a system that can help me relegate less important matters to their proper place. I started receiving the emails and immediately printed out the introductory manual. Once I started working, however, I quickly ran into this roadblock:
It turns out that I am expected to keep this high-energy bunch entertained, stimulated, fed, rested, and clothed all day, every day. Sometimes it seems like there is room for little else.
It is no coincidence that my determination to be more intentional has arisen during my busiest parenting season. This is the time when the rubber meets the road and my ideas and strategies can go for a test drive! And with three young children going into three different classrooms this fall, life isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. So I have started to ponder, even in the middle of the chaos, “How can I make developing priorities a priority?” These are my current “notes to self”:
1. Slow down. As much as my kids objected to this, having an hour of quiet time in their rooms (which invariably leads to naps for my younger three) recharges everyone’s batteries. It also gives me that all-important mental break, which I guard fiercely for everyone’s sake. Even if no one sleeps, I still insist that that hour is my time with completely clear air space. The article Mommy’s Quiet Time 101 offers great ideas for making this quiet time happen.
2. Write it all down. I am finding that identifying what truly does need to rise to the top of my priority list is a process with many “rough drafts.” So I am keeping a written record in my notebook of all of my thoughts along the way. Some that were discarded earlier simmer back to the top after all. Daily assessment and re-assessment is vital.
3. Discuss ideas with the kids. Driving is my favorite time to get input from the kids themselves on some of the important issues that affect all of us. When I asked them how we could minimize some of the crazy behavior this summer, for example, they advised me that I needed to provide more structure. Out of the mouths of babes, right?
We also have The Power of Moms list of dinnertime conversation ideas taped to our dining room wall, and the kids blow my mind nightly with their unique perspectives on both the sublime and the ridiculous. Bringing them into the process of developing family priorities has turned out to be rewarding and invaluable.
4. Discuss ideas with other moms (and dads). It is amazing how I can work this topic of family priorities into any conversation with another parent, and I always walk away with at least one tidbit I hadn’t thought about before. It seems to me there’s a Deliberate Parenting Revolution out there, and everybody’s working on these same issues from his or her own angle. Let’s help each other get there!
5. Keep reading. Every day, I read website articles, blogs, and books that inspire me with concrete ideas and remind me to keep my eyes as much on the horizon as they are on the day’s logistics. Then I write down the ideas that resonate the most with me (see point #2 above).
Making priorities a priority turns out to be a lot of hard work. It requires a mental shift from the mundane to the meaningful that, for me, had become a pretty weak muscle. I can’t wait to get it back into shape!
QUESTION: How do you set aside time to work on and develop your own priorities?
CHALLENGE: Make a list of five top priorities for your family, and create an action item that relates to each one. Take them for a test drive!