When my son was born, I was confident I had the right priorities for motherhood.
It was, after all, pretty straight forward. First, stop the baby from crying. If he cries, fix the problem. Second, sleep. It was simple, and it worked for a handful of days.
After those first few weeks, housework, relationships, bible study, and even work all demanded equal space on my to do list once again.
To be honest, I’ve struggled with priorities in motherhood ever since.
It took a long time for me to understand that no matter how organized and efficient I tried to be, I couldn’t possibly complete every task on my list to my satisfaction. It took even longer to understand that the really important things in life never make it on my to-do list.
I have never written, “listen to my son’s fears” on my list.
If I did, I would certainly prioritize it above “clean the kitchen counters.”
But do you know what I did recently? When I was in the middle of scraping the dried applesauce off the breakfast bar, I realized my son was trying to talk to me. He was going on and on and on about something and I really wasn’t listening. I was busy wondering what I’d left in the refrigerator to ferment.
When I tried to get him to stop the constant chatter, I told him “Honey, I really don’t have time to listen right now. I have more important things to do.”
As he walked away, my ears caught up with my mouth. Then my brain caught up with the whole conversation. My son had been telling me about his fears. Specifically, that a commercial for a movie was really upsetting him.
I had just told him that an applesauce-free countertop was more important than listening to his heart.
Once again, my biggest priority as a mom was NOT on my list. Ouch.
It happens every day.
As I’m writing this, my husband, my children, the cats, the oven timer, and the washing machine have interrupted me. In the middle of those interruptions, it’s hard to instantly recognize the most important thing and respond accordingly.
Because I struggle with this so often, I’ve chosen a framework that appears to be working for me precisely because it allows me to take those things that never even make it to my list and bump them straight to the top of my priorities.
First, I value my relationship with God above all else. Anything that interferes with that priority frequently (or in an ongoing capacity) isn’t in line with my values.
Second, I’ve made a choice to value people more than things. There are rare exceptions, but building and maintaining relationships is more important than maintaining inanimate objects.
Lastly, I have a few well thought out goals that are in alignment with my purpose in life. I prioritize those goals above the everyday (as long as I can maintain a minimal standard of cleanliness, hygiene, nutrition, and fitness for myself and my family).
In the chaos of motherhood, having that framework really helps me.
I’m not trying to decide in the heat of the moment because I took the time to think it through up front.
Houston Mom Blogger Susan Baker writes at ThisHappyMom and has a passion for encouraging weary worn out moms to find joy in everyday motherhood. She has two elementary school boys, one engineering husband, and one cat. She has a strange fascination for eggs, socks, and books. She spends far too much time on Social Media and at Target. She is crazy in love with her family. She serves an amazing God. She lives an ordinary life filled with wonder.
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