Simple goals for the week. They’re not the kind of goals like get the kitchen cabinets washed and organize the spices (though, seriously, that needs to be done) and put the winter clothes away (again), but are rather more mindset kind of goals. Mindset is a powerful thing, it’s that stepping back and recognizing that we’re not our emotions, and that our vision is a powerful thing. Motherhood takes a great deal of setting of the mind – it’s being able to see the bigger picture while embracing moments, recognizing that there are just normal days, and knowing that what we’re doing makes a life impacting difference.
Here are ten of my mindset goals.
1. Pause before reacting. The past couple days have been a bit more stressful and I found myself last night reacting. Reacting to a situation, reacting to my kids, reacting to the fact that the family room was cluttered – basically becoming the cloud of negativity moving throughout the house (which, ironically, is what I just wrote about not being in this post – Ripple Effects) . Reacting is what gets me muttering about the fact that there are Lincoln Logs all over the floor and the dishes aren’t done and that I have too much to do. Reacting, is what makes my mood the thermometer versus the thermostat. Remember that analogy from my friend Amy? The thermometer matches the tone of the house (or in my case the mood that I was in) and is based on outer circumstances. The thermostat sets the tone and chooses to remain there despite the outer circumstances. The goal in a a pause? It means setting the tone versus reacting.
2. Laugh. Smile. Kids needs to see us laugh and smile. It’s easy to race through life, reacting to all there is to do, and forgetting the power in smiling. My kids love it when I start laughing with them. They’ll tell me jokes, or do silly dances, or we’ll watch a movie – they just want to see me laugh. There is tension relieving, perspective gaining, life is good type of power in laughing. Make it a goal. Let them see you smile at them – those real smiles that just speak about how much you love them. And let them hear you laugh. When we laugh it is really an expression of love and connection – that there is good in the midst of the ordinary.
3. Do one thing and do it well. As mothers we are the ultimate multitaskers at time. For example, I could decide I am going to go grab book from upstairs in my home. On the way up I’ll notice the couple pieces of paper that needs to get thrown, grab them, grab the three pain inducing if stepped on legos that are also on the stairs, push the shoes over by the door, throw the pair of socks into the bathroom, and put away four extra books as I’m grabbing the one book out. We’re amazing multitaskers. Amazing. But, I’ve also had to train myself to do whatever task that I’m doing well. With excellence and then move to the next one on my list. Finish the kitchen, do it well, and then move onto the next thing. This is what keeps movement on a to-do list – it’s the focus, the laser approach to life.
4. Keep perspective. Ah, perspective. This wraps into the pause before reacting goal. When I lose perspective I react more. Perspective grounds, perspective reminds us that it is normal for there to be crayon marks on the table, milk spilled on the ground, laundry to fold, legos to be put away, children that bicker, nothing to make for dinner, and all of those very normal things. Losing perspective that those are normal will make laughter and smiles cease. So the goal is to keep perspective. This means reminding yourself every once in a while of the gift of normal. Write down some normal beautiful things in your life and put it on your fridge or in your wallet as a reminder during those times when life gets overwhelming.
5. Say Yes more. I’ve written series on this topic, and broached it again last week. No is often automatic. No is simpler, easy, and often involves less work. But, also, no will often mean missing out on sweet moments together. The relationship builder kind of moments – the reading of the book, making cookies, taking a walk kind of moments. Balance the no answers with the yes answers and the smiling and laughter will come easier. And this applies to not only our children but also to ourselves. It’s easy for me to say no to coffee with a friend because I have a to-do list to finish. Or no to watching a show with my kids because there is laundry. Give yourself the grace of the yes as well.
6. Create space. Nothing pushes me to my own personal limits more than a schedule that is too full, a house that is messy, and a to-do list that wraps into several pages. When the space is constricted I’ll say no more, I’ll forget to laugh, and my perspective is lost. A goal of mine, and a goal I’d really recommend for you, is to begin to create space within your life for those breathing kind of moments. It’s really hard, but often it is just giving yourself permission to sit down and read. Or to get coffee with a friend. Or to sit outside and watch your kids play instead of cleaning the yard and multitasking. Space is what refills our energy and uplifts our spirits. Work to create some.
7. Listen first. When I walk into a bedroom and all the organized toy boxes are dumped out and there are blankets strewn around and the bookshelf which was neat is now in a pile my first instinct is to react and to speak my opinion. My goal, when I keep that perspective, is to seek to understand first. Does it look like a mess to me? Yes, well, because it really was a mess. But, often that mess of things everywhere was the hours of work making this cool creative fort. So I’ve learned to ask questions and to listen before I respond. There is so much power in listening – we learn depths about people and about our children. Listening gives us a glimpse into another’s heart. Listen first, seek to understand, and then speak. And yes, they can be words, like boys the forts awesome and amazing. I’m going to take a picture and then we’re all going to work together to get this room clean again. 😉
8. Be authentic. In a world of labels, agendas, to-do’s, pinterest boards, and expectations it needs just a bit more authenticity. Realness. Now, of course it’s not that kind of realness where you come in a room and dump every single issue on the table to a group of friends. I’m talking about the kind of authenticity that is okay with opening the door to your home and not apologizing for the mess on the kitchen table, the dishes waiting to be done, and the fact that you’re wearing your yoga pants. When we’re apologizing for the real moments in life (After all we’re living in the home) then we’re in fact putting an unrealistic expectation on the relationship. It puts an expectation that everyone’s home has to look like it pulled from a pinterest board and thus we have extended the idea that when we go to our friend’s home it has to be almost perfect. Be authentic. Tell her it’s been a crazy day, to ignore the dishes in the sink, show her the painting project, and invite her in. Authenticity builds relationships, creates trust, and creates breathing space in our lives.
9. Find Joy. Joy and happiness are so often interlinked, but fundamentally they are different. Happy is based on the external circumstances – if the house is cleaned, those moments of utter fun, when we’re just having an awesome day – while joy is this deep posture of the heart that chooses to see the blessings, the gifts, and the moments tucked within a day that often isn’t happy. There are challenging motherhood want to pull all your hair out days where the joy part seems elusive. We’ve had a ridiculous amount of snow here in Minnesota (in this longest winter ever) and it would be easy to sink into grumbling, frustration, and irritation over the snow. Well, trust me, I had some words about that snow. But, bottom line, I can’t let an external like that dictate my mood – so I decided to rise above, to choose joy, and to look for the good. We made a snowman, my daughter Grace ran through the snow late at night, and decided to simply laugh about the snow. Look for joy. Not in every moment, but throughout your day. Joy is really gratitude for the little moments, the gifts that are embedded in the fabric of the day.
Ten goals, mindsets, that make a difference.
Now just to remember them.