In an earlier post, I challenged you to make a list of all the roles that you fill during the week and then to rank them based on how you currently prioritize each role. Notice how I said currently. This is where that brutal honesty comes in. If you weren't brutally honest, give it another go. There is no cheating when it comes to change. I mean, I can try to delude myself into believing that I am five pounds lighter when I step on the scale by leaning a bit on the bathroom vanity while I weigh in, but at some point I have to acknowledge that the pizza and nachofest over the weekend have undermined my progress. But I digress...
Back to your priorities. Were you surprised by how far up or how far down some of those roles were? Did you realize that you expending as much energy in some areas and so little in others? Again, we can't change what we don't acknowledge.
I remember doing this exercise with a parent a while back who was feeling completely overwhelmed by her home life. She was feeling unsupported by her husband and was concerned by her deteriorating relationship with her family. When she made her list, she realized how out of whack her priorities were. She had put housekeeper, cook and many of those other rather mundane roles way at the top of her list. Wife and mentor to her children, sadly, were far too close to the bottom. While she always felt that these were her priorities, she realized that her actions did not support this reality. She was expending all of her energy trying to manage the daily tasks of running a household when she wanted to be expending energy doing positive things with her husband and children. It was an eye opener for her.
Does this sound familiar? I think most mom's priorities get out of whack from time to time. The key to getting things back in order is taking some time for ourselves to reflect. Remember how I said many mom's leave "me" off that list of roles? That is unacceptable!
So what can you do to keep your priorities in shape? Here are some tips:
- Get out the calendar. Schedule a family meeting at least once a month. This is a fantastic way to maintain open communication amongst family members.
- Delegate. As mom's, we often take on way too much responsibility. Have you ever thought "I might as well do it because nobody else is going to?" That kind of thinking actually encourages people to not step up to the plate. Why should they clear the table when good old mom will take care of it? Kids should have chores. It helps build self-esteem and teaches responsibility. Let go of some of those things that take up so much of your time in the course of the week. Explain to the kids that when they help out, it leaves more time for all of you to do fun things together such as having a family game night. For more on getting your kids to do chores, check out these posts.
- Set aside time for your spouse. If you are married, it is important not to let the relationship with your husband slip down your priority list. It can be hard sometimes if we are not feeling supported by our spouse, e.g., they don't help with the kids, they are off fishing all the time, etc. Remember, we teach people how to treat us. Having said that, remember that we give what we get. I challenge a mom who was frustrated with her spouse to try the "good neighbor" policy, e.g., treating her husband like she would treat a good neighbor. For example, if he asked her to refill his water, she would say "sure" and do so without grumbling or complaint. I know, it sounds a bit silly, but it really works! She reported back that after doing this for a week or so, her husband seemed to tune into her more and was more supportive and helpful around the home when she asked. The truth of the matter is that when we feel supported and valued by someone, we are much more likely to reciprocate those feelings. You get what you give. It is important to have time alone as a couple on a regular basis. Knowing that it can be hard to get out when you have kids, maybe you plan a special movie night after the kids are in bed, etc. It is also important to establish with your children that mom and dad need time to discuss and process their day. Maybe this is done after they are in their rooms for the night or maybe you and your husband go into the den for some uninterrupted discussion. My husband and I try to do this for about a half hour every day after I get home from work. We send the kids outside to play and tell them they can come in when mom and dad time is over. It took some getting used to for them, but they realize now that it is important to us and helps us to be better, happier parents. What kids doesn't want that!
- Set aside time for your friends. It is important for us as moms to maintain our relationship with our close friends. There is nothing like the sisterhood to help center and balance. Schedule a girls night out (or in) at least once a month. It can be a huge sanity saver.
- Set aside time for you. I can't stress this enough! You need to have time alone at least once a week where you can process and reflect on those things that matter most to you. My husband and kids have learned over the years that I am a much happier person to be around after I have had some "me" time. Perhaps it is a long bath while he keeps the kids occupied or maybe it is having the house to myself for an evening while they go out to a movie. Whatever the case, time alone to re-evaluate our progress in the journey of motherhood is essential.
What things help you keep your priorities in check? Do you have any thoughts or tips that you would like to share? Please do!