Monday, October 18, 2010

Plan and Prepare: Can it Be Really, Truly Be Done? Where do you find Mom-Motivation?

"He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the most busy life. But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign." Victor Hugo (I wish it were easier)
At any given moment I've got about 100+ things I could be doing that are all good: cleaning my oven/sink/tub/dining room chairs/piano, returning phone calls and emails, making dentist visits, preparing meals, headstarting on Christmas shopping, playing/teaching/reading/singing with my kids, serving in my community, drawing with my kids, organizing photos...
How do I choose the best one?
The best way I've found is to plan. When my vision extends to a global perspective I make the best plans; I can plan my goals into practice, I can plan my errands with efficiency, I can meet my kids needs, I can prioritize and balance. In contrast, when I decide in the now I can't see too far because the moment waves at me with its demands- fix me! clean me! create me! watch me! I see the plants I haven't watered yet, that shelf that needs organizing, that scrapbook page I want to finish and the children I need to bathe so I attend to what's in front of me, rarely getting beyond my line of sight. So the good gets done, the better not so much.

Of course with chaotic, unpredictable, multiple-variables kid-life no plan at this stage will ever get followed exactly. Some people think that unpredictability is solid grounds to not bother with planning right now, others feel like it's too depressing to see everything you didn't get done. But the more I plan, the more I realize how desperately this time of my life really does need it, probably more so than any other, because there's so much more at stake.
So I make to-do lists when something pops in my head or when I review my goals and look at my continuously-updated ideas page, then I transfer those to-do list items onto the time map of daily schedule pages, all of which I keep in my handy binder which saves my life every day. I have a big meeting with Ian once a week where we go over our calendar and objectives. Each night I create the plan for the next day.
These daily-page tools inspired from Steady Days are fantastic, but Ian and I have only had two meetings, so I can't really say we're doing this. Even as I see how much smoother my days are going when I plan them with purpose, how satisfied I am that we made it to the park again and I found a spot in my schedule to pick up the Caleb Box, and take Halloween costume photos and write sympathy cards and pick up thank you gifts and do so many little wonderful things on my list, I also know it's going to be hard to keep this up. I've talked about this before, but there are a billion legitimate excuses to just slack off, to let go of Hugo's thread and surrender to the chaos of the day. Plus, nobody is watching me, nobody is giving performance reviews or salary increases, NOBODY REALLY CARES! Where do I find that strength to continue day after day to plan to give my best to my kids and my family, the most important job I'll ever have, when it's really easy to skip it?
Does anybody have any ideas for what keeps you motivated? Seriously, how do moms and anybody stay motivated? How do you get through the pulls and tugs and dead ends and frustrations and chaos to give that little bit of extra effort to make plans and goals and follow them when tons of things are working against you? Is this something that can really be done?


2x2momma said...

From an amazing email from my sister in law Charla-
How to keep motivated? yes, tricky. Most people keep motivated at their jobs because if they don't perform they will get fired. Not us. Or in some places/times they keep working hard to produce food and maintain livestock and if they don't produce food - if they slack off, they might have to go without food, their families would suffer and maybe die. No one will die if we decide to read a book instead of mop the floor. Or perhaps a woman in a different time or place would have to face an angry or potentially violent husband if she did not perform their daily work well. Not the case with us. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's difficult to really and honestly believe that housekeeping matters when, nothing major would really happen if we didn't keep up. Also, it just gets undone so easily, it's not like we are building something or are a part of a culminating project which has an end. This work has no end - if you didn't clean your house for two weeks, and then cleaned it, you would be in the same place as if you had spent every day cleaning it. Sometimes, I find myself thinking, I'm above all this mopping and sweeping and dishwashing - surely with my education and work experience I'm not meant to do this work that is so menial and so unrespected in the world.
In my Mom's generation there was at least shame from society from other women if you didn't keep up with your housework. People judged you by the state of your house, keeping up with your household brought big time respect. Now, women are so busy, it's pretty normal to hear of someone say how their house is a disaster or read online about women who just hire out, get husbands to help or just accept a messier existance. It's just not as big a deal - women's self worth no longer heavily depends on how clean their house is.

Misty said...

I love this post. My friend Sara and I had this discussion once. Her husband told her that she just needed to run the home like a business. Yet we both thought, like you, that with no penalties, no boss, and no external motivation it's easy to just let the day get away from you. Sometimes the understanding of the plan of salvation and my eternal role as mother helps motivate me but I agree that on more days than I care to admit, drumming up the mommy motivation is difficult.

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