I listened to a podcast a few years ago that talked about the importance of writing out your goals. Just by physically writing something down, you are 80% more likely to be successful. Just by writing it down!
Today, I write down everything: grocery lists, words of encouragement, daily activities, weekly weather forecasts, birthdays, appointments, and meal plans. This helps me visualize what our week will look like and keeps me on task by knowing what’s ahead. I spend about twenty minutes every Sunday taking a look at the week ahead. Then I write down what I’d like to see happen.
We learned in Toddlerhood Transitions that structuring your child’s day is important. Children behave better with a set routine because they know what to expect. So when we combine that fact with the effectiveness gained by writing down a schedule, we not only increase our success in achieving our goals, but have better behaved children: less tantrums, less arguing, and less nagging by Mom and Dad!
The start of a new year is such a great time to reassess where we are. What are we doing well? Where can we make improvement? Our family doesn’t necessarily set New Year’s resolutions but we do set goals in five main areas: physical, financial, spiritual, home, and work.
Two years ago I made a commitment to exercise at home. I follow a timed workout series and each week I write down the length of the daily workouts to best know how they will fit into that day.
How do we make time to work out? It takes discipline. It may mean waking early before the children. It may mean exercising during naptime when the little ones are resting. I want my children to know that exercise is important so I often include them in this hour of the day. My older children will play basketball or ride bikes in our driveway and my younger children will stay on a blanket near me with a basket of toys. (This doubles as blanket time for them!)
One category of our financial plan is managing our household grocery budget. It seems that each year this category of spending increases as we have more children and the children grow and have bigger appetites!
I have learned that creating a weekly meal plan significantly saves money in grocery spending. I can plan for our busy nights by making stress-free meals (crock pot, grilled cheese and soup, or breakfast). By writing down our meals, I’m able to plan a variety of foods so every night isn’t chicken, and this helps expand the palates of our picky eaters! I can double a Monday recipe to eat leftovers on Wednesday. Through meal planning, I’ve also realized we have some predictable patterns, for example “Taco Tuesdays” or “Crockpot Wednesdays.” I keep a 3-ring binder of our recipes printed out so when I can’t think of a meal, I have an easy go-to resource.
Carving out time to spend with the Lord is the most important thing we can do, yet sometimes it can be the hardest to schedule. When your house is full of little ones, sleep is so vital for weary moms and nap time is just never long enough. Quiet time should be out of devotion and not just duty. Often times for me, it is just a simple prayer before getting out of bed. On good days, it may be reading a whole chapter of the Bible or an online devotional. There are days my quiet time consists of worship music playing in the car while driving carpool or playing from my phone while doing dishes. I’ve learned that God speaks even when we are weary and exhausted and only offer Him the slimmest margins in our day. I keep post-it notes handy for writing down encouraging Scripture verses or lyrics from worship songs. Sometimes I just jot down a word or theme I feel the Lord whispering to me to remind me of His plans and purpose for my day in the midst of my own agenda.
Often it can feel overwhelming to keep up with the housework required to run a home efficiently. There are the things that have to happen like cooking, laundry, cleaning, and yardwork, and then there are the things you want to happen like organizing the junk drawers, cleaning out closets or creating a gallery wall of photos. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by it all, I try to pick one easy-to-accomplish task per week. One drawer. One closet. Printing out a new photo. There are several weeks where nothing extra happens and that’s life and it’s OKAY.
If your kids are older, get them involved in the process. They can certainly do chores but also help with the extras. For instance, my 5- and 7-year-old are capable of cleaning out their toys and school supply drawers.
If you’re a stay-at-home mom, your work goals may be what you’re working on with your children. For example, I recently realized our 18-month-old was outside of the funnel. My husband and I went out of town for 48 hours and my mother-in-law stayed with our 4 children. When we returned home, we were greeted with words of exhaustion and frustration! Our toddler had worn her out by emptying out cabinets and drawers and getting into all sorts of items that were off-limits. My work goal that week was getting this child back into the funnel. I set up the pack-n-play and got back into the routine of “playpen time!”
With our older children, my work goal was to improve their levels of responsibility. We have a pretty consistent routine of getting up, getting dressed, making the beds, combing the hair, eating breakfast and packing up bookbags each morning. But here it was January and I found myself asking the same questions each morning: “Have you done your chores?” “Did you pack your snack?” I realized I was “taking back monkeys” that belonged to my children. As I learned in Growing Kids God’s Way, it was time to use some monkey repellent!
Evaluate where you are in your children’s character training and set goals for yourself and your children. And be sure to not only write them down, but also share them with your kids.
And lastly, always remember there is grace for each season. When I find myself overwhelmed, I can easily just take a glance at my calendar and see the reasons why. Our schedule may be too full, I’m squeezing too much into too little time, and I’m not leaving enough margin for life that happens outside of the written routine. Give yourself grace and remember God’s mercies are new each morning.
Blaire Johnson is a stay-at-home mom to four children ages 9, 7, 5 and 18 months. She and her husband, Travis, have been involved in the GFI ministry since 2008 and have led classes since 2012. They live in Mt Pleasant, South Carolina.