The scene was a common one for this “young mama” (then!) of five children ten and under (so far!): I worked my tail off all day long and still felt like a complete failure. My husband came home from a typical twelve hour day to my cries of “I didn’t get anything done today that I needed to do” and “I just don’t understand why I can’t get more done as long as the day is and as hard as I work.”
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And once again, he answered with sweet words that pointed me to prioritizing, something that I was still in the process of learning:
“Did you rock and feed the baby?” I nodded yes.
“Did you do Bible time this morning?” I nodded yes.
“Did you do read aloud time?” I nodded yes.
“Did you do story time with the littles?” I nodded yes.
“Did you speak words of encouragement to the kids?” I nodded yes.
“Did you make sure everyone did their morning routines and chore sessions?” I nodded yes. (He knew my schedule well!)
“Then you got everything done that you really needed to! You got the PRIORITIES done.” ….And off he went to finish dinner and clean the kitchen.
And somehow, I was encouraged. I was encouraged through completing my priorities.
We had always talked about our priorities. We had agreed on them. We had mechanisms and routines in place to be sure we got to them.
Yet, the grandeur, non-daily, and sometimes exciting eluded me (and oftentimes, some of the dailies still eluded me!).
It would be a couple more years until I grasped the joy of fulfilling my daily priorities. And many more years until I understood that the quote by Aristotle is absolutely, positively true: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”’
(Find out how that happened for me in this productivity video)
It’s funny because today, after thirty-two years of homeschooling and now two years of empty nesting, some of my greatest joys come in prioritizing and fulfilling my priorities each day—my dailies first then the “grandeur, non-daily, and exciting”!
So how can you (1) Determine your priorities and do them? AND (2) Find encouragement through doing them?
There is something amazing about sitting down (with spouse, if possible) and writing out your true priorities for the year or the month or the week. And then writing the actions that it will take to make those priorities happen.
But there is something magical about following through on those things during that year, month, or week. Being able to look back and see that you really did the things that you have pre-determined are true priorities is the ultimate encouragement for homeschooling parents.
I know this isn’t the typical “outside encouragement” from a motivating article or moving speaker. (I love those too!)
But I also know that nothing felt as good or brought me as much encouragement as prioritizing and following through on my priorities did. And I so want this for young homeschooling moms.
Of course, it doesn’t just give you encouragement…you are heading towards big goals when you prioritize and follow through. Your preschoolers will learn to obey and sit still and be kind. Your new readers will be reading fluently before you know it. Your pre-teens will become independent with their daily school lists. Your teens will follow through on their assignments.
And you will be encouraged.
So….some prioritizing and encouragement tips!
1) Prioritize your day.
Put the most important things first. And do those before you do anything else. Only put the things in your schedule for the first part of the day that truly need done every single day.
2) Make a list of priorities for the month and attach actions to it that will help you fulfill the priorities.
We say something is a priority. A lot. However, we have to understand that a priority is only a priority if we do it. Otherwise, it is a wish or a dream. Many times we are unsuccessful in carrying out our priorities because we have vague, dreamy ideas of what they should be—but we don’t put real actions with them to be sure we DO them.
Priorities are what we do. If you were to pull out your virtual calendar, daytimer, or daily to do lists, anyone could read them and give you a list of your priorities. You might argue about their observations.
You might say, “No, that thing is not my priority. My priority is this….” Something loftier, more noble, or more similar to what you would like your priorities to be.
However, if we do not do something consistently it is not a priority because priorities are what we do. (Read 5 Influences to Determine Your Priorities)
3) Put the actions that help you meet the priorities in your daily schedule—and don’t do anything else until you’ve done these.
If priorities are what we do, it follows that they are ACTIONS. Therefore, in order to meet priorities, we must DO something.
Once my husband and I determined our priorities, we made action lists and put them into the daily, weekly, and monthly schedule. If these are our priorities, they should come ahead of everything else.
I know these steps sound simplistic. But there is nothing simple about following through on priorities. Tyranny of the urgent takes over. Messy diapers and boiling oatmeal take over. Our own lack of diligence takes over sometimes.
But I know through my life, prioritizing and following through on my priorities have gotten me where I wanted to go in graduating seven kids from homeschooling and maintaining an amazing marriage.
Blessings and encouragement to you—as you seek to prioritize!
I’ll leave you with some other articles, videos, and podcasts to help you learn to prioritize even more—and encourage yourself in the process:
Hi there! I’m Donna Reish, the writer, teacher, cheerleader, and homeschooling veteran behind the Character Ink Blog and Character Ink Press. I began “homeschooling” thirty-five years ago when my oldest was one year old when my husband and I homeschooled my younger sister. Also at that time, I was a consultant for one of the first homeschool curriculum providers, “Home Grown Kids,” as well as a teacher/umbrella for homeschoolers who, at that time, needed a certified teacher overseeing them in order to homeschool. My husband and I have since graduated all seven of our kids, after thirty-two years of homeschooling. Twenty years ago I began writing character-based language arts books for a homeschool provider out of Chicago, and fifteen years ago we branched out with our own small press,both companies have resulted in over 100 books totaling 50,000 pages. I write on my blog extensively about how to teach language arts and writing with lots of character-based parenting, organization/home management, and relationship articles for parents of babies through young adults.