Progress: 4 Simple Keys for Moms

Progress. Isn’t that what life is all about? When we don’t feel any sense of progress, isn’t that when we get down on ourselves or even depressed? I think progress is intrinsically connected to happiness.

This month’s focus is the Power of Progress here at The Power of Moms. And before you stop reading this, thinking, “Progress? Seriously? I’m just barely treading water here!”, let me share a few simple thoughts and ideas that can help make progress and motherhood seem less mutually exclusive.

In some phases of our lives, progress is almost built-in. When we’re in school, we get a definite sense of progression as we pass off one level and move on to the next, see our grades improving or master a new skill. In most paid professions, we can see our progress through promotions, raises, positive performance reviews or increased sales.

But in our lives as mothers, a sense of progress can be evasive. As we meet the needs that pop up right and left from our kids, much of our “to-do” list remains undone at the end of the day. We often feel like we’re treading water and that our attempts to actually move toward a goal are always thwarted.

But we CAN progress. And we CAN feel the joy of moving forward and learning at least a little every day. Here are four simple keys to progress for moms (and please add your own thoughts in the comments below!):

1. Define “success” for this phase of your life: When I had five little preschoolers, I learned to define a successful day as one where I’d found a few minutes to read to my children, spent a few minutes of “floor time” playing with them, completed one small cleaning job around the house, and found 30 minutes to take care of a few e-mails and phone calls. During that phase of life, progress involved seeing my kids learn their colors and seeing their attention spans increase while seeing my own little projects move forward inch by inch.

I found that when I expected to make more progress than was realistic, I was frustrated with my children and with myself. But when I expected too little and just moved into “treading water mode,” I felt depressed. Expecting and working towards an appropriate amount of progress is vital.

2. Set realistic, bite-sized goals: Read April’s post here about S.M.A.R.T. Goals (it links to a podcast you’ll enjoy). And if you want some support in setting and achieving realistic weekly goals, check out our Bloom Game that can put you on the road to a great sense of progress.

3. First things first: As moms, we’re always busy. But are we busy doing the right things? It’s important that we take a few minutes every week to establish what is most important to accomplish that week. The Bloom Game can totally help you do this.

4. Self-Discipline: During the precious free time we may have as moms, it’s so easy to get sucked into TV or the Internet. We sit down to check one favorite blog or watch a ½-hour show to unwind, and sometimes, two hours later, there we are, watching some show we don’t even care about or doing something on the Internet that isn’t really meaningful at all.

Try using your discretionary time to do things that give you a sense of progress before you turn to activities that are simply relaxing. You’ll be able to enjoy your relaxing activities much more if you get a little progress under your belt first!


QUESTIONS: Is progress important to you? How do you define progress? What “keys” to progress for moms would you add to the list above?

CHALLENGE: Decide what you’ll do to make progress a regular part of your thinking and your life this month as we focus on the Power of Progress.


  1. Koni says

    I love this article, Saren! I’ve got to tell you though, I just finished working and, the last thing that I want to do right now is progress – I just want to sleep in, lie in bed if I feel like it, read a book if I feel like it, etc. I realize why I feel this way – for so many months I was rushing to get up in the morning, rushing to get the kids off to school (with the help of a marvelous husband), rushing to get to work, rushing home, rushing through homework, dinner, jobs, bedtime, etc. so I could rush to bed to sleep for a while to start all over again the next day. I’m thinking that, after a week or so of quiet (although with 5 kids and 1 on the way, life is never quiet), I will be ready for some progress again soon, but, right now I am enjoying NOT progressing! Just as important as it is to be progressing, it’s important to have a little down time and recuperating time. So, my success and progress for this week is taking some much needed downtime for myself. This probably isn’t the comment you were expecting, but it’s where I am right now!

  2. Brooke M says

    I agree that setting bite sized goals really helps. I know that I have been setting the right goals when I can look back at my life in just a few month’s time and feel good about the changes that have materialized and become a part of myself and my family. I think the power of progress is a great principle to follow the power of intention because progress is what happens when we live with intention.

  3. Adele says

    I love reading something that resonates with me, this one I felt in my core. Your observation that “… when I expected to make more progress than was realistic, I was frustrated with my children and with myself. But when I expected too little and just moved into “treading water mode,” I felt depressed. Expecting and working towards an appropriate amount of progress is vital.” Your words made me think about ‘balance’ a bit differently… maybe ‘balance’ is the ability to keep all the pieces in our life alive and moving forward… sometimes inch by inch.

  4. says

    Man! I just had one of those days where I set too many goals and ended up feeling frustrated! Thanks for the reminder about being realistic. It really can be a tough balance to find.

  5. aubslivinitup says

    Thanks for this article! I am just discovering that I have hindered my own sense of progress by saying yes to too many things. I am one of those people that likes everything and I want to be involved in many projects at once. That’s great, if you can still make a little progress in each area, but I’ve realized that I have been feeling frustrated because I wasn’t making enough headway in each area. I have been a great project starter but not a great finisher and it makes me feel badly about myself. Solution? Choose the top 3 priority projects and make bigger progress goals in each category until they’re finished. Setting aside an amount of time each day to work on certain areas makes me feel better than setting a particular task to accomplish. I can tell myself that I succeeded by dedicating the time to it. Sometimes my goals are a little too “optimistic” (unrealistic) about what I really can accomplish. I forget that it takes a little longer with regular interruptions and multi-tasking, aka “life as a Mom”.

    Thanks for the article Saren!

  6. ldgagliardi says

    Thanks for this article. I’m looking forward to exploring this focus this month. I’m also interested in checking out your Bloom Game, however when I click on the links, I receive an error message… As always, thanks for helping to put things in perspective!

  7. janine bills says

    Ever since I was about ten years old, I always wanted to learn to play the piano. I wasn’t fortunate enough to have lessons. I admire and make an effort to thank all pianists that so graciously perform for choirs and soloists. After I had a few children, I decided to try to look at piano lessons as something I could progress at. I took a class at a local community college and did pretty good. I had some individual lessons, but it was too hard to practice consistently with four little children. Over the years I have kept trying to work at it. I’ve taught myself the basics and play very simple and familiar songs, very slowly. I’m watching three of my grandchildren this week and I just put them to sleep with my piano playing! They were really hyper and not settling down very well. I’m so excited right now! I will never get a thank you from strangers, but it’s okay. I just received the biggest thank you I will ever need. I’ve progressed to the point where I’ve made a difference in the lives of my grandchildren.

  8. says

    I’ve thought about this more than a few times. I’m big on goal-setting. Always striving it seems. But I find myself asking myself “am I cutting it?” “Why can’t I just get a report card to let me know how I’m doing here?!!” Thanks for some ideas on trying to gauge what is realistic at this stage. No one is going to figure it out for me! :o)

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