There are days I judge my success as a mom, blogger, wife, and housekeeper by the number of items crossed off on my to do list. While I know this is not the measure of real productivity, it is an easy habit to fall into. Can I tell you about last week? I need to get it off my chest. It feels like I not only lost a week of my life but life kept running on ahead of me.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may have picked up I like goals and to do lists. I’ve taken several webinars from Ruth Soukup (LivingWellSpendingLess), and I love her approach to productivity. There are several parts to her methods, but the one I’ve latched onto the most is a daily prioritized to do list.
Every morning I sit down with my tea and Bible to talk to God and set my focus for the day. During that time, I also make my prioritized to do list for the day. Prioritized is the key. Focus on the big tasks first and leave the mundane tasks to the end.
I began each day last week with this usual routine and the best of intentions. Do you know what I happened? I accomplished nothing. Even food was barely making it to the table (we ate dinner late every night), two loads of laundry were done merely out of necessity, and I didn’t touch the blog or house projects at all.
By the end of the week, I was feeling so deflated by my lack of accomplishments around the house and the blog (it was the first week since November 2017 that I didn’t get 3 posts up!) that I almost gave up my prioritized to do list.
What’s the point? It isn’t helping me accomplish anything. I am failing at everything right now. Every ball has been dropped.
It took until the weekend and having time to discuss with Dan what’s been going on.
I’ve been parenting.
Yes, parenting. Hard, long days of parenting. Absolutely nothing but parenting and barely feeding us is what I’ve done this week. While I am exhausted emotionally, physically, and spiritually, I need to remind myself that I haven’t done “nothing” this week.
The foundation of God’s truth and His values are being laid in my children’s hearts.
Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you. ~Ephesians 4:32
An exact number of how many times I or my kids have said that verse this week would be comical. The number must be astronomical.
Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. ~Ephesians 6:1
These truths and the many others we’ve been working on is not “nothing.” The task of guiding my children to be loving, God-fearing adults is of the utmost importance as a mom. It’s more important than my blog, more important than clean floors (or toilets!), more important than even me time (Know that it is hard for me to type that. I cherish my “me” time.). Yes, training my children to know and obey God’s word is my highest priority.
Dan and I are taking a parenting class, and it feels like things have only gotten worse since we started that class. In fact, if I were to look at only my children’s actions, reactions, and outward behavior as my measure for being a successful mom, I would be an absolute failure.
A truth dawned on me, without my comprehension at the time, as I was texting Dan one day relating another series of unfortunate events.
Emily: After I told you the morning was going pretty good, it was all downhill from there. I just don’t understand their naughtiness. It knows no bounds. They have no remorse over what they do and choose to disobey immediately after I talk to them.
Dan: Do you mean not having remorse or no change of heart? How do we fix that? Change it, whatever?
Emily: I guess I mean no change of heart. They aren’t resistant to asking for forgiveness, so maybe that means they have a little remorse? I guess I’m just struggling with not seeing change when I feel like I am addressing the situation calmly, answering their questions, and explaining what they did wrong. Right now our new parenting strategies are only changing me not the children. Maybe I need to come first though. It’s just really hard.
Dan: For sure. I didn’t think about that, changing us first. That’s a really profound thought.
Being profound wasn’t my goal, it just came out. I think there is good truth in that statement though. Even though there has been no change in my offspring, I am a changed momma, and if I expect them to change, then it is not too outrageous to think that their mom/parents ought to change first, right? After all, aren’t we their primary role models?
In light of my “lost” week, I’d like to encourage you with what I did accomplish this week. It took some time of quiet reflection, and I challenge you to do the same. When time just seems to be slipping away, stop and think of what has been changing in you.
No More Yelling (or very little)
I’m a yeller, folks. I never thought I would be, but that is my primary reaction when things aren’t going my way. I raise my voice. Last week I began implementing strategies to talk through the issues with my kids. What did you do wrong? Why did you hit your brother? How did that make him feel? How did you feel hitting him? Why shouldn’t we hit? etc. etc.
Having a game plan of how to talk to my kids has stopped my gut instinct to yell. I have to be brutally honest because I don’t like to be anything close to false here. Yelling did occur a few times, but never to the degree of intensity that it used to.
The amount of compassion and patience I have for my kids and their plight that led them to act/do something naughty is infinitely higher. It is easier for me to see the frustration that led to the outburst and have some empathy for their lack of ways to express frustration. Crying and hitting are their primary ways to release frustration. It is my job to teach them appropriate ways to get their frustration out. When I think of the situation in this light, my temper doesn’t flare nearly as easily.
Reliance on my Partner
Dan and I are now 100% on the same page with parenting. I know how he’s going to handle an outburst, and he knows how I will. This is such a relief! I also know he’s got my back. Not that he didn’t before, but being on the same page brings our support of each other to a different level. I depend on his wisdom more and keep him in the loop more. Such a huge win!
The number of character qualities I have gained in my “lost” week far outweigh the outward productivity that could’ve been accomplished. This is real productivity: growth in character that has life-long impact. I have an all new appreciation for “let it go.” Housework, sewing projects, laundry, and even blogging pale in comparison to taking the time to shape my children into loving adults.
So instead of focusing on how your house is dirty, the dishes aren’t done, hobbies haven’t been touched, showers haven’t been taken…how have you changed this week? What have you learned as a wife/husband and mother/father that are of lasting good?