Following my post earlier in the week (here) – here’s a practical guide to setting goals when you’re a mostly stay at home mum, or on maternity leave. As well as looking at specific goal setting for your home life I think about personal development, health and long term career plans.
Goal setting at home
The aspects of managing our home that I am good at (menu planning, cooking, even the actual cleaning) work because I have systems in place. I use specific lists and specific days to do the work involved. But there are areas of household management I struggle with. Paperwork, monitoring expenditure, tidiness, for example.
Maybe you are great at keeping the place tidy, but now you’ve a school run to do, getting out the door in the morning is a struggle? Or you end up getting a takeaway dinner more than you’d like because you struggle with meal planning and there was nothing in the house, again.
Have a think about an area (or two) of your house that brings you stress. Once you’ve identified that, get some specific goals about how you can address them. Here are some ideas of specific goals:
Leaving the house: pack bags up the night before, have a shelf for school uniforms and make sure there’s always a full set there including underwear and socks etc, aim to leave ten minutes before you actually need to, set the breakfast stuff out on the table first thing when you come down and tidy away as each person finishes.
Menu planning/cooking: always have two quick go-to meals in the cupboard (risotto/beans on toast), make a master list of dishes under categories (chicken, veggie, mince etc), allocate each day a category – thinking about days that are really busy (maybe make them veggie or a freezer meal?), spend a few minutes picking the menu choices for the week on a Sunday and write them down, make a grocery list accordingly.
In 2017, I’m going to start a weekly paper organising session – reply to letters or school forms that need filled out, make hospital appointments or chase late appointments, throw out junk mail or school art sent home that’s not worth keeping (you know it’s true!), and clear the kitchen island unit (my magnet for junk). It will be probably two slots of time – one for sitting with paper and sorting it, and one for making phonecalls.
It is very important that you have something for yourself. With the internet there is so much rubbish, but also for stay at home mums, so much opportunity. There are many online courses with classes, workshops, webinars that you don’t even need to leave the house for. Personally I do real life workshops every two months or so, and have at least one online course on the go too! When I’ve a young nursing-round-the-clock infant real life classes don’t happen, but I always have something that I’m doing for me.
In the past few months I’ve done workshops on Japanese calligraphy, jive and rock and roll dancing, gift wrapping, and illustrative calligraphy. I’m currently doing an online course on education for children with Down Syndrome and an online writing course.
So what hobbies did you used to love? What would you love to learn more about? Is there an online course you could follow? Are there leisure classes at a college near you or a conference you could go to? Make specific goals to learn a new skill this year and feel like yourself again, rather than just a walking tissue for snotty preschool noses!
Depending on the season of life you’re in planning for health will look differently. Maybe you’ll need to take prenatal vitamins, or be walking a baby round the block at all hours of the day and night to get them to sleep, or running around after a toddler. You’re unlikely to be able to do your old gym routine, particularly if you have a breastfed baby (or toddler!) attached to you, and that’s ok!
I make monthly targets depending on what’s going on that month. In January I plan to go for 4 swims. That’s one a week. I don’t plan to do a specific number of lengths. If I’m tired after 10 I’ll stop. It’s about getting out and doing something. I also take a really good quality food state vitamin and iron sachets in a glass of orange juice every morning. If I don’t, I really do feel more tired.
This probably isn't the season to be planning a couch to 10K regime, so just be gentle to your body.
Long term career
Now, this may seem an odd one, particularly if you are a full time stay at home mum. But don’t forget that one day your children will be grown up and the way society is going we won’t reach retirement age until our seventies so there’s plenty of work left in us yet! If you want to keep your foot in the door of your previous career, you may want to aim to read a few books each year on your speciality? Or subscribe to your industry’s newsletter?
Maybe you’ve ideas of a new career instead. Lots of women use this natural break as an opportunity to change career or find a new passion or direction following motherhood. My mother-in-law switched from being a civil servant to returning to university in her forties to become a teacher. I have friends who have trained as breastfeeding support workers or teach toddler classes in these years at home but hope to go back to their professional careers in a few years’ time.
Maybe you don’t yet know what you want to do, but it sure isn’t the job you used to do! That’s ok too. Looking at the hobbies and interests you have identified in the personal development stage may help. If you are curious about a different career, no harm in trying to find someone working in it and asking questions and maybe even going to spend some time at their workplace.
Use these years to think of ways to support your future career or keep in touch with your old one. This season of life won’t last forever and we shouldn’t pin everything on our identity as a mum!
As I said last time I have a printable page for you to use to do this process for 2017 if you sign up to my email list, on the right hand sidebar (below the post if you’re reading from your phone). I promise I won’t send many emails, not least because I’m not organised enough to! They’ll be occasional and hopefully an encouragement.