Organize to Thrive as a Mom at Home
- Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Cindy Sigler Dagnan's book, Who Got Peanut Butter on My Daily Planner?: Organizing and Loving Your Days as a Mom, (Harvest House, 2006).
As a mom, you want to give your best to your kids – but you don’t want to lose yourself in the process. Staying home with your kids doesn’t have to be an ordeal to endure; it can be an adventure to love if you organize your life wisely.
Here’s how you can organize your life so you can best enjoy motherhood at home:
Recognize the importance of your job. Know that your efforts as a mom are vitally important to your kids and will shape their lives in crucial ways. Understand that no other type of work you can do is more significant than parenting. Realize that no one else can raise your kids as well as you and their dad can. Take heart that all the sacrifices you need to make to stay home with your kids are worthwhile.
Aim to be productive. Realize that, as demanding as your parenting duties are, you can actually accomplish a lot beyond parenting while you’re home with your kids. Make time regularly to work toward other goals, such as learning a new skill, exercising, reading, and doing volunteer service projects.
Get out of the house regularly. Give yourself the gift of a change of scenery as often as you can. Take the kids to a library, park, museum or other place to give both them and yourself relief from cabin fever.
Establish and maintain friendships. Get together with other women frequently to support and encourage each other.
Cultivate a sense of humor. Look for creative ways to have fun with your kids and truly enjoy your time with them. Try to laugh frequently. Whenever you confront stressful situations, look for the humor in them to help you relax.
Pray often. Talk with God regularly about your thoughts and feelings. Intercede for others who need prayer. Make a prayer a habit to model faith in action to your kids.
Put situations in perspective. Make a list of everything that’s currently causing you stress. Then consider each situation on your list, asking yourself whether or not it will matter to you tomorrow, next week, in one year, or in five years. Turn your worries into prayers and ask God to take control of each situation that’s troubling you. Ask Him to give you His perspective on all you’re facing so you’re not stressed unnecessarily.
Plan well. Understand that if you don’t plan your days, circumstances will end up planning them for you. Every night, draw up an action plan for the next day. Build your plan around your priorities so you’ll spend your time and energy doing what most helps you fulfill God’s purposes for your life. As you write your list of things to do, build in extra time in between tasks to account for interruptions and other unexpected demands that will inevitably come your way. Consider what you might eliminate from your to-do list every time you add something new.
Use time well. Turn downtime (such as time spent waiting in lines or in traffic) into productive time by keeping supplies like and a pen and paper and a magazine with you at all times so you can write notes or read whenever pockets of time open up for you. Exercise regularly and get eight hours of sleep each night to boost your energy. Do your shopping at odd hours to avoid crowds. Group your errands together to get several tasks accomplished in just one trip. If possible, delegate some of your chores and errands to others. Don’t hesitate to say "no" to people who ask you to do something you can’t do your best on right now. Accept your limitations. Just do your best to focus on your priorities and trust that everything else will fall into place. Be flexible. Recognize that people are more important than things, schedules, or deadlines. Remind yourself of your blessings often, thank God for them, and continue to rely on God’s strength to help you with whatever you need.
Make space for sanity. Clear out mental clutter by asking the Holy Spirit to renew your mind daily, help you focus on what’s most important, and have the right attitudes to live well. Clear out clutter in your home by simplifying your lifestyle and making do with less stuff, handling each piece of paper (such as bills or schoolwork) only once before dealing with it or filing it, and storing every object in your house in a designated place.
Give up perfectionism and control. Realize that it’s futile to try to be perfect and that perfectionism can actually cause you to miss out on God’s best for your life. Rather than striving to fulfill unrealistically high expectations of yourself, relax your standards. Think about the worst that could possibly happen if you can’t do what you hope to do in a given situation, and realize that the outcome would probably something you could live with just fine. Don’t despair when your best-laid plans go awry. Expect the unexpected and be flexible. Pray regularly, relinquishing control of your life to God. Trust God to work out even the worst situations to accomplish good purposes in your life.
Plan enjoyable meals. Recognize the power that family meals have to draw you all closer to each other. Do your best to eat at least one meal a day together and have dinner together at least four nights a week when your husband isn’t on a business trip. View meals as more than just nourishment for your bodies; see them as nourishment for your souls, as well. Create an enjoyable experience at each mealtime. Try some new recipes, play music, discuss a topic of interest to everyone, or hold a simple devotional time while you eat.
Make time for yourself. Don’t let your responsibilities caring for others overwhelm you and cause you to neglect yourself. Understand that you can ultimately care for others better if you’ve had your own needs met first. Make time regularly in your schedule to do anything you enjoy that doesn’t involve your kids’ immediate needs.
Develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Ask God to help you feel content with your life, no matter what your current circumstances. Drink at least eight glasses of water each day. Try to get eight hours of sleep each night. Set an exercise routine doing types of exercise you enjoy. Eat a healthy diet, including whole grains and plenty of calcium and fruits and vegetables. Ask God to help you like and respect your body. Work on keeping a healthy sexual relationship with your husband. Nurture your friendships with other women. Write down dreams and goals for yourself in different areas, such as: personal, marriage, family, spiritual, career, and financial. Then work each day to get closer to your goals.
Strengthen your connection to God. Make prayer a frequent habit. Read, study, and meditate on the Bible often. Get involved in a Mothers of Preschoolers group, a Moms in Touch prayer group, or a Bible study group. Join a church and contribute through service there. Teach your children how to grow closer to God themselves, such as by giving each of them a Bible of their own, pointing out how God is at work in their lives, participating in devotions together, worshiping to praise music together, practicing hospitality and working on service projects in your community together.
Strengthen your marriage. Don’t let your parenting responsibilities cause you to neglect your relationship with your husband. Keep investing significant amounts of time and energy into your marriage. Go out on dates regularly. Make a list of your husband’s dreams and help make some of them come true. Initiate sex with your husband sometimes. Set up boundaries to help you both stay faithful to each other. Pray for God to protect your marriage, or, if either of you has been unfaithful, that He would heal your relationship and restore trust between you.
Pursue joy. Decide to act in joyful ways, even when you don’t feel that way, since feelings often follow actions. Savor the simple pleasures around you, such as the natural beauty of your backyard or the smell of cookies you bake with your kids. Play with your kids and make memories together for them to cherish after you’re gone. Every day, ask God to help you live purposefully.
Adapted from Who Got Peanut Butter on My Daily Planner?: Organizing and Loving Your Days as a Mom, copyright 2006 by Cindy Sigler Dagnan. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Or., www.harvesthousepublishers.com.
Cindy Dagnan is a writer and a popular speaker at national conferences, retreats, and marriage seminars. She is the author of five books – including Who Got Peanut Butter on My Daily Planner?; The Chocolate Side of Life; and Scribbles: Sketches for Stressed-Out Moms – and has also written numerous articles in such publications as P31 Woman, Christian Standard, and Hearts at Home. Cindy and her husband are the proud parents of four children.
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