Goal Setting for Busy Moms: Moving Beyond “Survival Mode” in 2018

In my last post I talked about my plans for the New Year. I’ll be starting out 2018 as a Mama of two under two AND three under three, so in many ways just surviving seems like a sufficient resolution. But the prospect of a whole year of simply surviving felt a little depressing to me, so I decided to pause and think (and pray) about what would make this a meaningful year for me as a mama, a wife and a woman. Here’s my 4-step process for how I’m creating my purpose and tracking my progress this year:

START WITH: A Big Picture Resolution.  For me it is Col 3:14-17, which I came to during my Bible study time after praying for guidance (this is my guiding principle for the year): “Put on love…and let the peace of Christ control [my] heart. And be thankful…do[ing] everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Col 3:14-17).

FROM THERE, I BRAINSTORMED: I came up with my Big Dreams for 2018 by asked myself, “With Col 3:14-17 as my guiding principle, when I’m at this point in my life next year, what will I [and most importantly God] have liked to have accomplished?). Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Daily Prayer time & spiritual growth (focusing on joy and patience)
  2. Improved spending habits and a less materialistic heart
  3. Create a Family Culture
    • Intentional faith education for my kids
    • Modeling Christ’s love for my kids (1 John 3:16)
    • More intentional, less distracted quality time with my kids
    • Improved boundaries and discipline for my kids
    • Daily home care and lifestyle routines
  4. Become a more engaged, disciplined blogger
  5. Finish my novel
  6. Develop healthy & consistent exercise routine
  7. Monthly goal setting and reflection: Set new goals at the beginning of each month with the aim of taking daily meaningful steps towards my Big Dreams. Reflect at the end of each month on how well I did in meeting my goals.

NEXT, I TURNED THE BRAINSTORM INTO MONTHLY GOALS:  I am taking this one month at a time, so have only done in-depth goal setting for January.  The reason for taking this one month at a time is because I want to reflect on my progress at the end of each month, and from there set new goals. For the month of January I asked myself: what can I reasonably expect to accomplish in order to take steps towards my Big Dreams? Here’s what I came up with:

January: Establish and stick to daily prayer & home care routines while adjusting to life with a newborn, a one-year-old and a two-year-old.

  1. Daily: “Discovery Prayer Process”/Bible Study + Rosary
  2. Daily: 1 chapter (or section) a night of a soul-strengthening book (Currently I’m reading The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson and love it!).
  3. Daily: Bedtime Dynamic Catholic prayer process
  4. Daily: 15 minutes (minimum) of blogging
  5. Daily: Wash, dry & fold 1 load of laundry
  6. Daily: Run the dishwasher at least once (if not twice)
  7. 3x a week: Breakfast Bible reading with kids
  8. 5x a week: Afternoon “tea time” + reading time with kids (Start with Bible if we didn’t do it at breakfast)
  9. 1x a week (preferably more): Take a walk (this is difficult with winter temperatures in the single digits)

I also jotted down some future goals I have so I don’t forget them:

February: Buy & read “Our 24 Family Ways: A Family Devotional Guide” by Clay Clarkson; Start BBG postpartum program; buy large white board for book outlining; maintain and expand upon daily routines; give up online shopping (i.e. don’t even set eyes on Amazon or other online stores) for Lent

March: Implement “24 Family Ways” devotional in our daily routine

June: Buy PowerSheets planner & start using

December: Jesse Tree with kids (for Advent)

FINALLY, I BROKE MONTHLY GOALS INTO DAILY TASKS: Looking at the week ahead, I asked myself what small tasks could I accomplish each day to move me towards my monthly goals.  It’s helpful to have a basic planner for this process (see below for how I wrote out my plan for today):

Monday, January 8th: Prayer time & rosary in the morning after settled in at the hospital for my induction (including soul-strengthening book reading); Publish blog post (morning); Start working on next weeks blog post; Dynamic Catholic Prayer process before going to sleep (post-birth)

I did this for each day of the week, then went back though my calendar and made sure I was meeting my monthly goals (eg. daily prayer time, number of Bible lessons for the kids I wanted to do each week, etc.)

A big change for me this year (a goal in itself) is to check in and reflect upon my progress, and to always be taking small steps towards big goals. I’m going to make my first blog post of each month this year a reflection on my progress towards my goals from the previous month, and a plan for my goals in the upcoming month.

 

Are you doing anything special to hold yourself accountable to your resolutions this year?

 

 

Creating New Years Resolutions: Tips for the Mama with Small Children at Home

I want to be a better blogger. You know, one of those bloggers who posts AT LEAST once a week—preferably multiple times a week—not just once every six months. That’s a big dream of mine for 2018.

But that’s also a hard resolution to make when I’m 36 weeks pregnant and know I am going to be induced one week from today. When I know I’ll be returning home from the hospital with my sweet newborn to a house with a one-year-old and two-year-old in it. In this season of life, I feel like the only thing I can resolve to do is change diapers everyday and feed small hungry mouths.

While these are definitely worthy, good resolutions to make, a whole year ahead with nothing else resolved feels a bit daunting. At least to me.

So the other day I put it to prayer, and God responded immediately: He provided me with a framework to approach my resolution making during this busy yet monotonous season of life, a season in which I feel like I’m constantly working and yet can’t see any tangible progress from my labor.

Here is the big purpose, the resolution, God put in my heart for 2018: “Put on love…and let the peace of Christ control [my] heart. And be thankful…do[ing] everything in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Col 3:14-17).

I know that even the smallest task, if it is done in love and for God, acquires infinite worth. This is how we build up our treasure in Heaven—yet sometimes in the day-to-day of life this fact is easily forgotten. I believe that my biggest job in life right now (aside from being a daughter of God, which is always my highest calling) is being a Mama to the three small precious souls God has blessed me with. So holding fast to this Bible verse is my primary resolution for this year…

But there’s more.

With my overarching resolution in hand and heart, I still feel that God is calling me to more. The Holy Spirit creates motions in our hearts and God has given us our talents for a reason. So…here’s how I’m going from lofty ideas to bite size, attainable daily goals:

  1. START WITH: Big Picture Resolution (Col 3:14-17, which I came to by praying for guidance)
  2. FROM THAT, BRAINSTORM: Big Dreams for 2018 (I asked myself, “When I’m at this point in my life next year, what will I [and most importantly God] have liked to have accomplished?)
  3. BIG DREAMS THEN BROKEN INTO: Monthly Goals (For each month of the year, what can I reasonably expect to do in order to take steps towards my big dreams? I know, for example, that I’ll be less productive in January when I have a newborn than I will be once that newborn is sleeping through the night (maybe by July? Is that too ambitious a hope?) 😉 ).
  4. BUILT UPON DAILY TASKS: Weekly Planning. Looking at the week ahead, what small tasks can I accomplish each day to move me towards my goals?

In my next post, I’ll share the specifics of my resolutions and goal making, as well as how I’m holding myself accountable this year (which I haven’t really done before with my new year resolutions). I hope you too, Mama, have taken time to think about YOUR upcoming year and what YOUR purpose is…I would love to hear what your reflections and resolutions are!

Surviving the First Trimester with a Toddler (or Two) at Home

When you find out that you’re pregnant with baby number two (or three, or four…) it’s a different experience than it was with the first. Gone are the days of peacefully lying on the couch all afternoon when you feel sick, or napping whenever you feel tired (at least on the weekends). Now you have a little one outside the womb who needs you 24/7 and it can be an exhausting, trying time for the Mama who had to give herself a pep talk just to climb out of bed in the morning.

This first trimester—at home with a 1-year-old and a 2-year-old—was definitely a “valley of darkness” time for me. Here are a few tips I pick up along the way that helped me to survive.

  1. Sleep whenever you can, as in whenever your child(ren) are in their beds. The one thing I’ve learned from my many first trimesters is that sleep is a sure way to make myself feel better. It even helps decrease my nausea.
  2. After sleep, this is my cure for all ailments. Specifically, sleep routines. We keep a strict sleep schedule in our house, that way everyone (including the exhausted Mama who is desperately counting down the seconds to bedtime) knows what to expect, and there is minimal resistance at bedtime. It’s also great to establish these routines now so when baby comes you can have everyone on a predictable schedule, and you can incorporate baby into the family’s routine.
  3. Community support. This comes in many different forms, from babysitters to Mommy friends to family and your hubby. You will likely need a break from your kid(s) at some point in order to recharge, so family or babysitters are very helpful. Having Mommy friends to vent to or commiserate with, to set up play dates with, etc. has also been lifesaving for me as I tend to get down when I’ve been feeling sick and exhausted for so long. I recently joined MOPS, and I HIGHLY recommend it if you’re not already a member!!
  4. Yes, I’m recommending screen time (shame on me). But for real, for those days when you didn’t sleep the night before and your head is hanging over the wastebasket and you have no babysitting help, give yourself a break and turn the telly on. Try to nap on the couch even, while your kiddos watch their show. (Helpful tip: Daniel Tiger has some great episodes about bringing a new baby sibling home. And an episode about how to take care of Mom when she’s sick—those are my personal favorites ;)).
  5. Reading and quiet activities. When the kids get bored of TV but you still can’t move from the couch, have them fetch books for you to read to them. Or pull out some crayons and coloring books. Then collapse back on the couch.
  6. Encourage independent play. When the TV is done and you’ve read all the Fancy Nancy books you can handle, tell them “Mama isn’t feeling well, I need to rest.” Depending on their age and how well they communicate, you can be specific and, for example, tell them that you feel sick to your stomach and ask them to recall a time when they were sick and what that was like for them. There may be some resistance at first, but keep persisting. They will respect you when they see that you’re serious.
  7. Candy & Gum. And a plastic trash bag. When we had to leave the house, chewing gum or sucking on hard candy (Werther’s hard caramel) really help with my stomach problems and made me feel well enough to schlep us out to story time and back home again (or to the park, etc.).
  8. Learn to say “no” to outside activities and prioritize your rest. This is a hard one, but for this season in life you need to take care of yourself and your family before anything/anyone else.
  9. Positive attitude – “this too shall pass”. Frankly, when you’re in the middle of the first trimester it feels like it will never end. Even if you “only” have three weeks left or whatever, the time that stretches out between you and relief of your symptoms seems daunting. But try to remember that there is noting more creative and miraculous than bringing a new life into the world and try to keep your eye on the prize.
  10. Pray. Really, I probably should have listed this first–it was in prayer that I found all of my hope and inspiration for the difficult days. I kept Philippians 4:13 as the background on my phone: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” If you look up this verse on Pinterest you’ll find some cute phone wallpapers.

Finally, thank you for your selfless dedication to that baby and that family of yours, Mama. You are a rock star—really and truly—so keep on rockin’ & rollin’. I’ll be praying for you.