I've spent some time writing articles on being more effective as a mother. They've been pretty practical. I've just focused on telling you the “whys” of setting goals, a schedule, etc, and giving you an outline on how to do those things.
Today I'm going to take a bit of a different track and talk about your overall vision for what you want in your life (and in the lives of your children). But I felt it was important to start with the practical. This is for a couple of reasons: first, I gave a solid step-by-step framework that makes logical sense. You can follow it. Secondly, you are a mortal being with a mortal body (though many of us moms think we have to be superwomen). But point is, no matter what other beliefs you hold the first way you're going to relate to your world is through your body. Your body takes the action that achieves your goals. You are going to go ahead and do something no matter how challenging that is.
An Overall Dream
Ok. That said, I do think it's important to have an overall idea of what you want. Your goals helped you start to grasp just what you want. They give you a very concrete way to define what you want and begin working on getting it. Your “vision” or “dream” encompasses what you want your goal setting to lead to. It's important to know what end you're working to. This is where you can get a little more open-ended.
One of my dreams is to have a peaceful, clean home. I want it to be welcoming to me and I want to enjoy being in it. I want to enjoy cooking in my kitchen. And I want my husband to come home at night to a house that's clean and looks nice – and provides him with a place to relax after working hard. I want my children to have a good example of a clean and well-functioning household. I want my home to be a place they're happy to bring their friends to and a place their friends enjoy being.
That's a lot to define out and if I look at it just like that, it's overwhelming. How do I take my cluttered house and small kitchen and create that haven of peace and relaxation??? That's where the concrete goals come in. Sometimes you can achieve a goal without having a bigger end-result in mind. I could probably say I want to organize my house just “because” and get it done. But it helps a lot to know I'm working towards that clean house my family will enjoy, and that will do good for all of my family's state of mind.
Gaining Definition as a Mother
Mulling over your dreams and vision is important to your mothering as well. Parenting can be very hard work. When you're up to your ears in dirty diapers, screaming toddlers, morning sickness, and sulky school children it can be very, very hard to figure out why you're even bothering with all of this. And if you want to change it (so you don't have screaming toddlers and sulky school children) it can be very hard to see any sort of place to start. So you need to sit back and develop a vision for yourself as a mother and for your children. Dream for them.
If you don't really get a break from your children – and believe me, I know how this is – you need to steal some time. Put the kids behind a baby gate and go get in the shower. Go for a drive with them all strapped in their car seats. Call grandma for a couple of hours. Put a table full of so much food in front of them it will be 30 minutes before they stop to take a breath. Do something so you can sit back and think. And think about where you are at now. Think about where you want to be. Don't be specific and goal-oriented right now. Dream. Think about how you envision yourself as a mother. Think about how you'd like your children to be.
When I say that, don't think about how you want them to be personality-wise. No matter what I do, I'm never going to change my social chatterbox into a reserved, quiet child. It's not going to happen. But you can dream about how you'd like your days with them to go. About how you'd like them to behave on outings. I'm pretty sure you're going to want to have mostly peaceful days of being with them. So go ahead and dream about that. Think about the kind of people you want them to be. This is really helpful. Do you want your children to grow up to be good people? Young men and women who have strong values, are willing to work hard and help others? Do you imagine them growing to be smart and cheerful? I do.
I also picture my daughter growing to be a happy and fulfilled mother. I picture my sons growing to be dedicated fathers who are willing to work hard for their families. These are things I desire very deeply. They're a vision I have for my children.
Now take that dream – the dream of what you'd like your children to become, and look at yourself. Measure yourself against that dream. It's very revealing isn't it?! I want my daughter to grow to be a happy mother. But there have been times when she's seen me be a pretty exhausted, frustrated, and burnt-out mother. I want my children to be hard workers, but there are times I complain about household chores (then fuss at them when they do the same about theirs!) Your vision for your children can help you define your vision for yourself. The kind of person you'd like to be.
Making the Vision Reality
Of course there are some things you can't control. You can't control (completely) the influence of others in their life. But you can control you. You can dream for them and for yourself, and you can take action. So sit down and figure out what you'd like for yourself, your home, your children. Put that vision in your head.
I'll give you one more example from my own life:
I picture the time after my new baby is born to be a wonderful time. A time when the baby is content and curled up with me or Scott. Where I have a week or so to relax completely and be with my baby, and a couple weeks after that when I really don't have to do very much. I imagine that there are good meals to help me recover and nourish the babe, and to keep the rest of the family content. I picture my house staying pretty neat and clean. There are lots of things to engage the older children during this time when their normal schedule is somewhat disrupted. Overall, it is a happy and peaceful time.
Big vision. A lovely one, too, in my not so humble opinion 😉 It's a “vision that motivates.” It's important to have dreams and vision like this as you are mothering. Dream up some of your own to help you through those tough times. And use them to build your goals. Remember that you are a mortal, physical being, and you relate to the world through your mortal and physical body. You can dream dreams and develop visions. They'll help you. They'll motivate you and give you focus. But do remember they're a starting point. To make my postpartum dream come true I need to take that dream and create some goals (like organizing my house!), and then I need to work on those. Then I'll see that dream manifest. And it will be a very, very, nice one.
You can do the same thing with your dreams. You can take them and create goals. You can break down your goals into steps, put them into your schedule and work on them. And you'll see that vision realized, and that dream will happen.