I don't know about you, but I often torment myself thinking that I need to do more. How can the days pass so quickly, yet in a whole week, very little gets checked off my to do list? I add more to it than I can possibly accomplish in a given day.
I have learned that having children stifles the kind of productivity I was used to achieving before I had them. But is that really true? Sure, I used to be able to run in and out of stores in a jiffy. I was able to write without interruption. I could exercise!
But when I really think about it, I accomplish so much more now than I ever did before I had children. While they were infants and toddlers this wasn't true, but over the years, having less time has taught me how to manage my time much more wisely. I have also gotten better at sorting priorities, and, truthfully, I have changed my dreams to more realistic goals for myself.
At one time, I had youthful dreams of stardom. But my children have taught me that this environment that I thought I was creating for them—this environment where learning and making and being creative is part of our daily life—is actually what makes me happy. All that time I thought that happiness would come once I reached my goals, but no, happiness can be found in our daily choices. How do you want to live? What do you want to do? DO IT.
But how do I get anything done with children? Well, in two ways. The first one is to work alongside them on whatever I can. As I follow along in their interests, I have found so many ways to be creative as I support their endeavors. I am expanding my own mind as I learn with them. I have made time for art, literature, science, nature exploration, and social activities. It doesn’t all happen in one day or even one week, but little by little, as each year passes, we delve into each of these subjects, and if I don’t get too stuck on what we’re supposed to do, these things make for a very fulfilling, life-long-learning kind of life.
There are things I want to accomplish that I can’t do with my children, and for these things, I have learned to be patient with myself. I do a little bit at a time. I let go of perfection and outcome. I watch my work build up over months instead of days. As Karen Lamb said, “A year from now you may wish you had started today.” You would be surprised at how much you can accomplish when you work diligently just a few minutes per day.
I also try to remain flexible about what I ultimately want to accomplish, but I continue striving because I know it’s important for my well-being. And it’s important for my children to watch their mom be more than a mom.
In some ways, a slow, meandering life with children is more conducive to reaching practical goals. It makes me shake off the meaningless junk and see more clearly about what is important to me. But only if I let it. Not tormenting myself about what-I-want-to-do-but-can’t-right-now is a daily practice, but I’ve gotten better at it over time.
How do you accomplish your goals while rearing children and homeschooling?
SHELLI BOND PABIS is home | school | life magazine’s senior editor. She writes about her family’s homeschooling journey at www.mamaofletters.com.