What are your priorities?
Write down your responsibilities, your needs, and your wants.
The following quote is what I use to guide and direct my life:
“Let my assure you . . . that some day you will have a personal . . . interview with the Savior, Himself. If you are interested, I will tell you the order in which He will ask you to account for your earthly responsibilities.
First, He will request an accountability report about your relationship with your wife (husband). Have you actively been engaged in making [them] happy and ensuring that [their] needs have been met as an individual?
Second, He will want an accountability report about each of your children individually. He will not attempt to have this for simply a family stewardship but will request information about your relationship to each and every child.
Third, He will want to know what you personally have done with the talents you were given.
Fourth, He will want a summary of your activity in your church assignments. He will not be necessarily interested in what assignments you have had, for in his eyes the [small and large church responsibilities] are probably equals, but He will request a summary of how you have been of service to your fellowmen in your Church assignments.
Fifth, He will have no interest in how you earned your living, but if you were honest in all your dealings.
Sixth, He will ask for an accountability on what you have done to contribute in a positive manner to your community, state, country, and the world.” David O. McKay, a religious leader
What guide do you use to prioritize your life?
Find a mentor.
In the New Testament in Titus 2: 3-5 it says the following:
“The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”
Find a guide you can trust. Find someone that have produced good “fruits” in their life. Have there children turned out well? Ask them what their priorities were and how they raised their children.
Organize your priorities:
My priorities look like the following:
- God - I put the Lord first by praying each morning.
- Self - I put myself next because I need to fill my bucket to serve from a full well. I do this by giving myself a power hour that fills me up.
- Husband - We maintain a daily love ritual by walking or talking each day. If he asks me to do something like iron his shirt I put that on the top of my list that day – and it gets done because he’s number one!
- Children – I am at the “crossroads with my children” which means that I am there for them emotionally before and after school to love, listen and teach them.
- Talents - I do something everyday to beautify the world – even if it’s just singing at the kitchen sink to create a memory of happiness for my family.
- Church - I fulfill my church responsibilities.
- Career – I am honest and thrifty. I am a homemaker and a mother and I try to do a good job.
- Community – I smile at people and try to be friendly and kind to all I meet.
Put “First things First”
Life is like an 8-tiered wedding cake with the largest cake on the bottom representing your foundation for your life; then a slightly, smaller cake goes on top of that, on up until the 8th tier of cake. What is the base of your “cake of life?” Where are you placing most of your energies? God is the foundation of my life and then I put about 60-70% of my emotional energy into training my children to be obedient and kind because it takes great emotional strength. I try to save some of my energy to serve my husband and I let “saving the world” fill in the cracks of life. Some mothers put their career, children, or “saving the world” as their foundation and try to balance everything else on top. Their cake is unbalanced and it’s probably going to fall over.
How does one balance it all? Steven R. Covey in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People teaches the concept of putting “First things first.” Have you ever seen the object lesson where a person uses a quart jar, tennis balls, golf balls, marbles, beans, and rice to demonstrate how to manage your time? The large items such as the tennis ball and golf balls represent the most important things in your life such as your family and God. The marbles, rice, and beans represent activities that are fun, but not essential and important. These could be activities like watching t.v., e-mailing, facebook, reading, internet surfing, blogging, window shopping, and phone call gabbing, etc. The demonstrator puts rice and beans in one quart jar to show a person that does not put “first things first.” Now there is not enough room for the tennis balls and golf balls to fit in the jar. However when they place the tennis balls and golf balls in first – then you can throw in some marbles, beans, and rice that fill in the cracks and EVERYTHING fits in the jar! Somehow, miraculously, when you put “first things first” it all works out. There is enough time to do the important, urgent, and nice to do’s too!
How to Say “No”
My dad always taught me to take advantage of every opportunity which has great advice in developing my talents. But there are times especially in motherhood, when I’ve been overbooked and I couldn’t do it all. When I had my third child, a woman asked if I’d illustrate her children’s book for $500. I wanted to say “yes” because I want to illustrate children’s books, and I wanted the money, but I was barely surviving with three toddlers and maintaining my home. I remember holding my son while I walked down the hall and thinking of holding the money or my son – I thought I could enjoy my baby or illustrate the children’s book. I told the woman “no thanks” because I can always illustrate a children’s book,- but I can never get my baby back. I realized that saying “no” was really saying “yes” to something else – something better, my son. And you don’t have to help the PTA President and the schools pupils- you can stay home and hold your own baby “pupils.”
Good, Better or Best?
Often we have to make tough choices between good, better, or best. When I had four children I had to say “no” to serving for my political party. I can serve my country at a later date, but no one else can be my children’s mother. Sometimes I choose “good” instead of “best” because it’s better for the whole family. For example, I want my children to all learn how to play the piano. I think it would be neat if my children became Mozarts however my children don’t want to be Mozart, and it’s too high of a price for the family to invest in time, travel, and expense. So we simply have the piano teacher come to our home (who is usually a high school student or my sister) to teach the children how to play. Once they can play all the church hymns they can graduate from piano. That’s good enough for us.
It doesn’t always mean that you will get everything done that you want to do. You will need to make some tough decisions deciding between good, better, or best. Is there anything you could eliminate to open up time for something more important? For me, I have chosen to let being a “couponing queen” go because I’m not good at it, we eat less healthy, I feel frazzled cutting and remembering coupons, and for me, it’s a waste of time. If you are a couponing queen then that’s great if you enjoy it, but could there be something else you could eliminate so that you could put “first things first?”
How do you choose from 5 good activities?
What do you do when you have the opportunity of attending your son’s baseball game, there’s a church activity, a scout fundraiser, you need to read your scriptures, and you really need a date with your husband? When most moms have 5 choices on a given night – they just go on auto pilot and choose to take care of their children. Maybe that’s the right choice or maybe it isn’t. The only way to know which is the right choice is to listen to the Holy Spirit.
Listen to the Spirit, your heart, your inner voice, or your conscience – not your brain. It will guide you. After you make your choice DO NOT FEEL GUILTY that you couldn’t go to your son’s baseball game or do the 4 other activities. You made the right choice. You can’t do it all. God doesn’t want you guilty and depressed all the time. Guilt is only productive when it helps you repent quickly. Heavenly Father wants you to be happy.
Beware of your list! Sometimes our ‘to do’ lists are not good because we are so focused and frenzied that we crowd out the feelings where our hearts are leading us.
Choose your priorities wisely and stick to them. Listen to your heart and it will guide you to make the right choices.
Your friend (whose also learning to balance it all and find joy in the journey),