Remember that graphic I shared at the beginning of 2016 that said… “Count your blessings instead of your crosses?” Then it went on to ask you to add up gains instead of losses, joys instead of woes, friends instead of foes, smiles instead of tears, courage instead of fears, full years instead of lean, kind deeds instead of mean, and health instead of wealth… and lastly – it asked you to count on God and not yourself. What a great way to measure how you are doing in the new year! It’s now moved past January, and although I still see a bunch of workout outfits on sale, I think people are well on their way to living the life they purposed back on December 31st.
One of my goals this past week was to clean off my desk, update my weekly homeschool calendar/planner, and “consolidate” all the notes in my spiral that I keep for brain farts and other random to-do list items that aren’t important enough to make it on to this week’s grid. Flipping through the pages of my now much prettier spiral (tossing old pages of to-do stuff and re-writing notes is cathartic to me), I fell upon a page entitled “Mom Goals for 2015-16 School Year”. This is THE time of year for going back over goals (RE-view, if you want to throw that into my “Year of the Prefix RE” box).
I thought I’d list the goals here and instead of “grading” myself, talk about what I’ve got in the works RIGHT NOW and SOON for each of them. Nothing like a little INTERNET accountability (and just typing this out to remind myself) to help me push off procrastination and dig in.
Here they are…
MOM GOALS for 2015-16 SCHOOL YEAR
1. Start the day with God and complete 2 bible studies per year
Boy did I fall off the band-wagon with this in our first semester. We finished a bible study earlier in the year and it has taken me forever to find another one. At this point, I’m letting the big kids dictate their own studies in this area, since graduation is nigh… but mama needs a new study. Any suggestions? I love a good Beth Moore.
PLANS: Start my second study for the school year by March 1st.
2. Keep up with meal planning (update binder/make a monthly plan/simplify)
On this list for this month is updating the meal plan binder and book case. I go on and off every other week with meal planning. The rest of the week’s stresses really affect my ability to keep on top of it. Making a generic monthly plan would be helpful. Maybe I ought to do this BEFORE I update the binder.
PLANS: Monthly plan, menu cards for favorite meals, menu board project for the kitchen, and THEN update the binder and trash all the recipes we won’t ever use to save space & organize cook books on the shelf (getting rid of the ones we don’t need)
3. Increase water intake, walk or do Pilates weekly
Now that the cold season is ending here and the weather is near perfection (gotta Love a Texas February/March), this seems much more doable. My husband has been lifting weights and eating right after seeing us do this for years and now he’s making me feel like exercise is something I DO want to add in to my life. Love watching him transform. As for the water, we bought a water dispenser at Lowe’s and have LOVED having cold and hot water at the push of a button. I haven’t had the best week of keeping up with it – letting being busy step in the way – but for the most part, we are drinking more water than ever. I also bought the kids some of those nifty water bottles this year from Natural Grocers with the screw off tops – stainless steel. They love them.
PLANS: Start walking more. Continue drinking lots of water. Buy a set of belt-loop clips for the new stainless steel water bottles.
4. Work on streamlining chores, teaching the little guys how to do them
The 5 and 7 year olds are loving helping out lately. Man, these years are golden in parenting, right?! They love doing chores but hate cleaning up their Legos. My latest issue has been angst over the laundry, though. Everyone likes to dump the clean stuff on mama’s bedroom floor and leave me to sort and fold and put it away. #nothanks #thestruggleisreal
PLANS: Write names on laundry baskets & give everyone a laundry day, finish out minor DIY updates to the laundry room to put in shelving, remind everyone gently and often that I’m too old to sit on the floor or bend over a hundred times, fold and put away clothes STRAIGHT from the laundry room counter and teach the little boys to help as much as they can (they already love rotating the wet and dry from one machine to the other)
5. Create a budget, pay down debt, eat at home 95% of the time
I just really suck at budgets. Now that tax refunds are here, we will be paying down the debt, and we are slowly marching back all our eating out habits. We go for stretches where we are super good about it (most often when the paycheck is spent on bills before we get it)… but there’s always room for improvement where this goal is concerned. It would help if one of us was a CPA or business-minded person, but those just aren’t our giftings.
PLAN: Rework the debt chart after refund payments are made, sketch out a rough budget plan, and get my menu plans going better to keep us at home for more meal times.
6. Be more hospitable – focus more on friends
This is hard for people with busy lives. Contrary to popular belief, homeschoolers don’t have more time than public schooled or private schooled kids. Also difficult is when other families are on totally different schedules or there is distance between you and the particular friend you want to visit and you can’t work out the logistics of a trip to see them in your school week. Having a job that takes a lot of my weekends up (photography) also is a hurdle.
PLAN: Take on a mom’s fellowship night with our local co-op between now and the end of the school year, take another mom to see a movie, have coffee with someone and swap books this month, send thank you cards, invite a family over to dinner by March 1st, continue game nights with friends that have become a real highlight for us
7. Read at least 2 books per month
I’m in the middle of too many books. I’m also purging the book cases again, looking for duplicates and other books we can reluctantly part with to put on Paperback Swap and get more credits. This goal isn’t that hard for me this year, even though I’m crazy busy. Something in me just let go this year and I started to really give myself more leg-room and margin to allow myself to take time for myself. Reading is something I love, so this is a favorite thing on my goal list.
PLAN: Finish reading “For the Love” and a few others on the night stand by mid-March.
8. Be a good example with rising early and going to bed on time; staying on a schedule
OH, how hard this is for a night owl. We build grace into our schedule, but are always looking to improve by inching things back. Daylight Savings Time is always a big help.
PLAN: Work on backing things up one full hour by the end of March.
9. Purge email, limit distractions, set timers, blog regularly, get reviews done
I have focused mainly on the distraction part of #9; to the exclusion of blogging, using timers, and purging email, even. If school years are bits of sand slipping through a homeschool mama’s fingers, my hands are almost empty now – and I’m watching the last few grains drop, wondering where the time has gone. This makes for much less time for unimportant things. It helps to narrow your focus. While I love blogging and aim for In-Box Zero, and would love to start cranking up the timers for the little boys, we really are trying to savor moments first and foremost over here in the bee hive. That said, I still want to inch my way towards this goal, always forward…
PLAN: Delete 1000 emails by the end of March, Blog at least weekly in March, and get one review done.
10. Regular (6 week) review of goals with self and kids
This one has been hard this year. I’ve had difficulties mainly because I don’t want to put any more stress than necessary on the kids with such a short deadline between now and graduation already staring them in the face. As for the little boys, I’ve been much less of a “task master” for them than I was with the older kids in their first years of homeschool instruction. I haven’t gone over goals with them at all! I have just watched them soar past the ones I’ve set since the start of school – which ROCKS, quite frankly. As for myself? I could use a reminder more often for sure. I don’t see it as just-another-thing like the teens… I actually enjoy reviewing and revamping and finding ways to slice goals into bite size accomplishments. That’s really what this whole post is about. More for me than you, certainly – even though I don’t mind you peeking in if it inspires you to tackle your own mama-goals!
PLAN: Semester 2 goal review with the teens – set a date and go do this over coffee and breakfast tacos (before the end of February), finish this post and write out my bite-sized chunks of PLANS to accomplish & set them to calendar dates on my dayplanner!
11. Keep priorities in line, stay focused on the goal
I read an article by who-knows-who recently (my credibility is always in question because I never can remember the source)…. and it listed 6 ways to promote success: 1) be regimented/scheduled, 2) be consistent, 3) take a walk every day to clear your mind, 4) get showered and dressed first thing for your day, 5) tackle THREE goals before you do anything else each day, and 6) defend your time. The thing that sticks with me here is #5 mostly — because my long lists melt people’s brains (including my own). The three goals idea is similar to the idea that is shared in so many books about time management – by too many authors to list. It is the idea of narrowing your focus to the most important and knocking just that out before you allow yourself to fracture into the urgent (because the urgent is always just about to hijack your day – it’s just the way life goes).
PLAN: Set priorities for each day the night before and write my 3 things on the dayplanner for each morning, review goals more often (see #10)
12. Plan ahead for school, regular weekly planning, and follow through
This has been the year of back-to-basics with school planning and we’re using a spiral notebook to keep track of our last six months of high school. I’ve played around with emailing the kids their assignments, and even most recently using a Google spreadsheet because of the “zombie assignments” that never get checked off even though the kids swear up and down that they are done… and I keep asking them about. There’s no fool proof method and everyone is different in the way they like to keep track of their school work — but the important thing is that you DO KEEP TRACK. This year for first grade and preschool keeping track consists of aftermath lists of what we accomplish. That works for the younger years — not so much for high school kids.
PLAN: Continue weekly assignment lists for the teens, start a spiral for the little boys (similar to the ones the teens have) for weekly assignments so we get more done
13. Catalog home library, sync devices so that they are updated and have music libraries
I’ll admit, I’m OCD. I’d love to know what all is on my bookcase shelves and have a fantastic digital library to scroll through to be able to easily find it all. We have book cases in almost every room, so this would be great… however, this is low on my priority list right now. I do it in spurts here and there and that’s OK with me. When I find a bar code service that will quickly let me organize my entire homeschool library, I’ll spend an afternoon entering books… but until then, I’m content with doing this a little at a time. Sadly, the syncing of devices sometimes stays on the to-do list longer than the devices stay in service.
PLAN: Rip the last 3-4 CDs to my Media Monkey files, sync my phone, update all apps, finish straightening the game room book cases and the boys’ book cases by March 1st.
14. Electives – throughout school year
The flight plan my son was on totally fell through. The instructor got a job and moved away and the other guy who worked at the hanger decided it wasn’t something he wanted to continue. This really bummed my son out. We’re still working on figuring out how he can get his pilot’s license cheaply at this point, so our extra-curricular for him really fell off the calendar this year. Thankfully we have ramped up our art this year and are doing more of it with a local co-op class my daughter mostly teaches and I help out with. Both my kids are already artsy, so they just need a push to find time in their busy lives to practice. Lately, they have started playing piano more, too – which is good.
PLAN: More art, more piano – set a recital goal for new music to be played (deadlines help), and research more about getting helicopter or fixed wing training for Kaden
15. Implement Circle Time & Family Devotional
I just fall down on these so often. I think starting them 15 years ago and doing them regularly would have been so beneficial, but I didn’t really come to know about Circle Time until my big kids were big and my little kids were little. These are hard to start as new habits. I haven’t done well with this goal for 2015-16.
PLAN: Tackle the circle time and get it going for 30 straight days in March. Maybe I can make it a habit by then?! One little bite at a time.
16. Declutter, organize and decorate
Like I said on Facebook this morning: “I wish I could channel some Joanna Gaines into my house.” I’m so tired of the same-ol’, same-ol’ and the white walls with crayon scribble up the stairs… the cobwebs and cracks. I’m so ready for some pretty in my spaces that haven’t been touched for lack of time or money. On a positive note, though, I have purged like a crazy-woman this year already; so many Good-Will receipts. I even purged the filing cabinets, if you can believe that. I procrastinated that to-do list item for years.
PLANS: Where do I start? Money isn’t there and most likely won’t be there for most of my plans, but as for the cheaper fixes… 1) painting, 2) laundry room fixes, 3) curtains & trimmings, 4) re-glue map trim in game room, 5) paint cabinets & distress, 6) knobs for filing cabinets & kids’ dresser (and possibly cabinets), 7) new light fixture for kitchen, 8) floating mug shelf, 9) bathroom caulking, 10) sheetrock damage fixed from roof leak…and maybe by the end of 2016 we will tackle the carpet and tile issues. If I start off with one thing per month, I could have all 10 complete by the end of 2016.
17. Read with kids, gratitude journal, prayer journal, nature study
Aside from loving your kids, nourishing body and soul, putting God first, and doing the basics – ‘readin’, writin’, and ‘rithmatic… these four things are high on my homeschool list. Reading WITH the kids – not TO them. Not because it’s on a list… but because you are a participant – family read-alouds that everyone loves. We mostly do this at bedtime, here lately, but I want to do more of this. Thicker books. More of them. Now at 5 and 7, they are able to imagine along with stories that have no pictures and participate in discussion and anticipate reading time more. I haven’t started prayer and gratitude journals with them yet, but I think I’ll start them soon. As for the nature study – with spring already springing early this year, that will come a lot easier in the coming weeks.
PLAN: More nature focus in our walking, more walking in general, beginning journaling with the little guys, increasing my own journaling, and ramping up the reading (with thicker books and not just picture books)
18. Religion – Honor – Discipline – Excellence
These are the 4 pillars from the Dead Poet’s Society. They aren’t a goal as much as they are a way of life. Putting your faith first, being someone who displays honor and who honors their word, finding ways to be more disciplined and consistent, spurring yourself on to excellence… these are things I strive for and want to strive for more. There’s always room for improvement. It is hard to nail them down into concrete goals because they are so figurative, but if you use them as a filter – write them down – and keep them in mind… they can guide your decisions and priorities to help you live better lives.
PLAN: Prioritize church and teaching the kids the Bible, keeping my word when I make a promise – and being careful to say NO when I need to, working towards more self-discipline and on being a better example (see #1, #3, #5, #8, #9, 11, #12, #15, #16, #17…)
19. 5 day school week, less outside activities, less breaks, GRADUATE
We cut some really good things this year out of our schedule because it was the right thing to do. Voice lessons are not continuing in semester 2. Teen Court had to be cut right after school started this year – after a 3 year prior school career in it for both of my teens. Teen Bible study fizzled out right after Christmas and we realized that we have to reclaim the time in the middle of our week and stay home (so we aren’t looking for another thing to fill the spot on the calendar). Some cuts are hard to make, others are easier. The objective is figuring out what final goal you have and focusing on the big picture. Right now our big picture is graduation. One of our teens is considering doing graduation “differently” than the other, but the goal for both of them is to have mama work her way out of a teaching job and into a mom-only job by this summer. Whatever course that looks like over the next six months, I pray they both are given wisdom and strength and focus and determination to achieve it per God’s will for them.
PLAN: Keep on keeping on
20. Smile more, have fun, make memories, enjoy my kids
Did you ever see that episode of Little House on the Prairie where the kids befriended a little boy whose mama was always cross with him and angry? Sure, she had her reasons. Life had been hard to her. Stress and worry had taken its toll on her furrowed brow and she was bound and determined to make sure her boy was doing everything in life right so his life would be easier. Sound like someone you know? Most of us, I’m sure. I know I want my kids to get life righter than I did. To have more. To be more. To get their socks blessed right clean off their feet. BUT: Am I pushing too hard, and yelling, and pointing too many fingers — and frowning? Those forehead wrinkles don’t lie.
PLAN: I know this sounds weird, but READ MORE (Start with “For the Love” why don’t you? Because Jen Hatmaker.)
“You will never have this day with your children again. Tomorrow, they’ll be a little older than they were today. This day is a gift. Breathe & notice. Smell & touch them; study their faces & little feet & pay attention. Relish the charms of the present. Enjoy today. It will be over before you know it.” – Jen Hatmaker
PLAN Continued: Oh, yes… and go on more field trips, camp in the back yard before it gets hot, nature walks (which we already discussed in #17), plan time each day for one-on-ones with one kid and keep notes in my own journal about it, LAUGH & Lighten UP (seriously – because if you don’t do this 6 months before graduation, when will you, sister?)
21. Be a good helpmate, thoughtfulness towards husband
Oh, heavens, does he have to be this far down the list? For shame. This year my man and I have started taking way more date nights. No more guilt trips about leaving the teens to cook a meal (gosh – they just might be able to fend for themselves when the move out after graduation), or leaving the little boys at home (to find ways to entertain themselves that don’t involve climbing mama’s leg). It has been transformational for us. I wonder still why I waited so long to prioritize this important part of our relationship. Now if I could only keep the 5 year old (whose birthday was this month) in his OWN BED for an entire night. Oh, let’s be honest… even the 7 year old.
PLAN: Take the stupid coffee bean grinder back to HEB for a refund because he asked me to (even though I hate returning things without a receipt), write date nights on the calendar to make sure they happen, pick up and read through and do the Love Dare again – because, why not?
22. Grow my photo business and pay off loans for gear, continue education for work
It is hard to find time in my busy homeschool mama life for a home business, but we literally have had to rely on my small second income the past year. I hate giving up weekends, too, but it makes it easier when I love what I do (both when I stay home with the kids and when I take photos for other people). I’ve invested a lot of time and money in my photography business over the past year and I don’t want to just sit on the golden egg. It is time to hatch the baby and watch it grow.
PLAN: Take fantastic photos at my next wedding in a couple of weeks, blog my past few weddings – I’m a bit behind on the blogging part, seek out or create a stylized shoot and do some local networking, take a few senior portraits, schedule my next wedding, dedicate thirty minutes a day to the back-end side of my business, take another class through Creative Live before the end of March… and as for the money part… well, that will come as the bookings do. Trust God to bring the increase in His time.