(Some links may be affiliate links. This means that I may earn a small commission off of the money you spend if you purchase them. However, it is at no additional cost to you. But it is beneficial to me in offsetting the cost of this website and helping me out along the way. But I promise to give my honest review of the product. I will not recommend anything I wouldn’t buy myself.)
Last night I went to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. It was my first time to go on a weeknight. I normally go on the last Saturday of the rodeo because it is the grand championship series. But the entertainment line up came out, and Brooks and Dunn were slated for a Wednesday night (normal night off for me) performance. It would also be easier for me to take a Thursday off in February than a Saturday in March when all of my coworkers were taking off for Spring break. As I was preparing to leave, I decided that it was one evening, I was not going to pump while I was out. This meant no need for the nursing tank for modesty purposes. I felt pretty liberated. By the end of the night, however, I decided that it was not a good idea to repeat.
I also couldn’t help but note the fact that it was only the 4th time I would go out without my baby for reasons other than work. It has led me to contemplate the possibility of trying to do a once a month deal. One where I can leave her with someone and go out and do something with friends. I don’t have a lot of friends in the area that do anything. So I haven’t discussed it with any potential babysitters. Or I might opt for a coffee by myself to focus on evaluating my personal growth. If I were married, a weekly date night would be in order. Why do I not take one day out a month for self care so that I can be the best mom I can be?
This thought process further served to remind me how we are not just mothers. We are women who have goals in life. We have things we want to do. Things we want to accomplish in life. And part of the whole purpose of this blog was to help encourage single mothers in their journey without seeing their children as a burden or what held them back. We want to live our lives with no regrets just the same as everyone else.
What does that look like?
Can you stop and take a moment to envision what goals you had before you became a mother? The ones that may not have actually involved having kids. Did you have aspirations to write a book, to run a marathon, to travel, to get a college degree or certificate, land a specific job/career, or buy a house (or just get your own place)? Don’t give up on those dreams just yet. There is a way to accomplish them without abandoning the responsibilities of providing for and raising your children.
Don’t get discouraged just yet thinking of the obstacles. Just write down on half of one piece of paper all of the goals you had before kid(s). Then write them on the other half of the paper in order of importance or in timeline (which ones you want to accomplish sooner than others). Part of accomplishing goals is writing them down so that you can see them in front of you. It’s a psychological mind game of sorts.
Now take each of those goals and write each one on the top of a separate paper. Underneath you are going to list the steps needed for you to get there. Then you will list everything you think is standing in your way or that has to be worked out before you can reach that goal.
Congratulations, you have now laid out the groundwork for moving forward with those goals and dreams. You now know what needs to be done to get to that goal and can work them in your planner.
Different but the same
Your dreams may adapt slightly with the introduction of children (childcare necessities while at school/work, time of day you train for the marathon, traveling with the child or finding suitable overnight childcare while away) but your dreams and goals aren’t obsolete. Don’t give up hope just yet.
Right now I sit on the couch with my 8 month old who is being particularly needy this morning despite the fact she just got up from her naps and should be ready to play on her own for a bit. It becomes difficult sometimes to tackle anything when your (20+ lb) child is demanding to be center of attention. I definitely understand. (A momentary break in writing to spend a couple minutes holding her and talking with her was enough to satisfy her before I was able to redirect her attention to a banana designed toothbrush toy…off my lap and on the floor.)
Interruptions like that make it seem almost difficult to get things done to progress towards your goals in life. But 5 minutes was all it took to connect with her emotionally, recharge her batteries, and regain my momentum. You know what distracts me more than 5 minutes of playtime with my baby? Facebook. Time spent with my baby is more important than scrolling down my Facebook feed (or insert any specific social media or phone application game that suits your fancy.)
Invest in a planner
The inner nerd in me is about to come out. I love blank planners at the beginning of a new year. I love planning. It is something small I can do that tells me thing are going to go in the right direction. These goals take time which I can’t speed up, but I can envision the process coming to fruition with a planner in that moment. There are tons of planners out there, but I am going to give you a brief review of a couple different ones I have used at different times.
They are the Commit30 planner and the Passion Planner. I bought Passion Planner when it was in the kick-starter phase. Loved it. I bought the Commit30 planner two years in a row while in college and also loved it. They’re both phenomenal but I have since decided that they are good for specific purposes that are different from each other.
You may decide to pick one up or you may decide to check one out at your local bookstore or on Amazon (or other online retailer). But I strongly encourage you to find one that works for you and use it. Both of the planners I recommend below have sections to evaluate your progress for the previous month. Other planners may not be so organized. Just be sure and schedule a morning at the beginning of the month (or at the very end) to assess your progress from the past month and plan the next with specific steps you want to take to improve. Personal growth is only attained through reevaluation and implementation of said improvements.
The idea behind the Commit30 planner is that you focus on one thing for 30 days. By the end you have improved on it and then you move onto another goal for the next 30 days and so on. It has a page where you can specify specific goals in various areas of your life (physical health, mental health, spiritual health, family/friends, career, finances, marriage/partner, etc.) that you want to accomplish. There are exactly 12 circles representing 12 categories (one for each month of the year). It has pages where you can plan what the goal is for that month and also monthly evaluation pages where you can assess and brainstorm ways to improve the next month.
You might literally take it one thing each month as it seems to intend for you to do. It breaks it down in a way that might be more easily attainable so that you’re not overwhelmed with 12 things you need to work on each day for a month and repeat. Or you might be one that can’t wait 11 months to work on one of your goals so maybe you will work on 2 a month, 3 a month, or more.
The important thing here is that you are real with yourself and how you operate. We are all wired differently. Some are stoked with the challenge and it pushes us to do it. Others will get overwhelmed and fizzle out quickly (if not before we even do anything). You have to be in the pilot seat here and work it so you have enough tasks at hand to get somewhere but not too much so that you become exasperated with everything you have to do and shut down.
It gives you checkboxes for daily to-dos in life and separate ones for work. It also gives you space to write notes at the bottom for shopping lists or mental notes. I also like the quotes they place at the beginning of the month.
The weekly planner part is not only unlined, but the hours of the day is listed once on the left hand side of Monday. This mean that you have to be aware of imaginary lines (or draw them in yourself) to attach tasks to the correct time of day.
This is the planner I am presently using. I had completely forgotten about it since I bought the PDF format during its kick-starter phase three to five years ago. I had two years of Commit30 and when it was time to look at a planner for this year, I clicked on an email I had been getting and realized what it was. So I bought the full size version. No compact version where I have to write small. The 8.5” x 11” version.
I have to interrupt myself here and confess something: I’m all gung ho about planners for the first two or three months. Then I fizzle out as life gets in the way and I fail to take time for it. I’ve already experienced some of this this year already and we’re just about to hit March 1st tomorrow. But what does the Passion Planner have? A page for evaluating your progress and how you can improve going forward! Yay!
The Passion Planner starts out with instructions to make your goal list. Voila! Here is where the goals I had you write out above come into play. It even has you list them under the boxes with a timeline marked for them. Then it has specific instructions on how to create a roadmap for each goal and order them for what comes first and what comes last.
For all of you who are eco-friendly and conscious of your ecological footprint, the Passion Planner is printed on 100% recycled paper. And for our furry friend lovers, part of the proceeds goes to finding forever homes for animals. Definitely check them out if you’re all about supporting such heroic efforts. There is also a quote and a thought for the week on the left hand side of the weekly planner portion.
The layout of the months and weekly planners is a little off to me. It has all of the months up front with each one followed by an evaluation page. The weekly schedules follow up after all of the monthly overviews. It means your constantly flipping from one part of the book to the next instead of going through it in an orderly fashion. I don’t like that at all, but the idea behind the planner is phenomenal.
Weighing them both
I really like both of the planners, but I feel like there’s a specific reason why one might choose the Commit30 planner over the Passion Planner. The Commit30 planner feels more like it is designed for someone trying to break negative habits and build positive ones, while the Passion Planner is task oriented.
The Commit30 planner asks you to do something each day for 30 days and that might be to stop drinking alcohol for 30 days (if that’s a hang up for you) or it might be not biting your fingernails for 30 days. It also might mean that you are putting $1 in your savings account each day or that your going for a walk or a run every day. Or maybe you’re reading a chapter of a book each day. Not all of your goals (like traveling) is accomplished by doing something each day for 30 days.
The Passion Planner breaks down actual goals into a plan with a timeline on it. The timeline makes it seem imminent and you find motivation to get it done and scheduling certain tasks for certain days to meet that timeline.
At the very least, write down the your goals. Don’t lose sight of who you are outside of your role as mother and your dreams because you are a single mother, or even a married mother. Don’t set yourself up to be susceptible to regrets some day or even in those moments when the difficulties of motherhood get you down.
Your children need to see you accomplishing your goals regardless of what obstacles may be in your way. That will set them up to believing and achieving their own goals. You got this!
If reading is one of your goals, check out my post here on five books that will get you started in the right direction. And if you’re struggling right now with life, read my last post here. And if you’re enjoying or feeling some sort of helpfulness through my posts, I hope you will subscribe to my newsletter and join my band of gypsy mothers. I won’t spam your inbox everyday, but I do hope to give you a little extra something each week with a brief glimpse of the posts added that week on this website.