This month I want to focus on one of the most important things you have to face before you can start to do anything and it's a step that you have to take yourself: You have to decide your Non-Negotiables. (And your non-negotiable might not be my non-negotiable, and vice versa!)
Huh? What in the world is this crazy lady talking about, I'm sure you are thinking about right now, but let me assure you, it's like that saying "you don't know what you've got till it's gone." If you don't decide those things that mean the world to you, and fiercely protect them, then they will slip away without you noticing. You have to take a look at your day to day life and find the pieces the matter the most to you, you have to look at your life and take notice to the things that you are missing, the things that you always say, "I want to be a family that does x (whatever x might be, always eats a made from scratch meal, has Game Night every Tuesday, whatever matters the most to YOU!). It can be extremely easy, particularly when you are running your own business, or just working from home, to either loose sight of the reasons you chose to work from home (being able to play with your kids more, having a successful breastfeeding experience, making home cooked meals the whole family can enjoy) and then everybody's least favorite guest, Guilt, creeps in and you become overwhelmed and just quit.
Starting with my non-negotiable, then I have a foundation that I need to build on top of and around, instead of trying to work those things that matter the most to me into the busy-ness that I've already created, and then feeling overwhelmed when it doesn't happen.
Now, my non-negotiables are probably not going to be the same as yours (and that's ok!), and they have changed as my children have gotten older and transitioned through different phases, so knowing that this doesn't have to be set in stone and that as the seasons change, your goals will change to, gives you a sense of freedom when you first set out to discover what you want to build the rest of your day upon. (Because we all only get 24 hours to each day, and some of that time really does need to be spent sleeping!) For this season of our life, these are the parameters that I build the rest of my day upon:
1) Homeschooling. The core of my day is built upon the fact that my younger three children are homeschooled, (and because one of them is a selective mute, homeschooling is going to most likely be one of the pillars of my day until graduation). For me, homeschooling is a non-negotiable and the way that it plays out in my day is that during homeschool hours (usually about 8:30 until lunch), I am 110% with my kids, I am focused on them and their needs (starting with the preschooler first! I'll get into that more later, but I find it to be one of the most useful changes that I've ever made, spending the first 15-30 minutes of my morning giving the youngest a huge dose of positive attention, including him in morning chores and then spending time reading a book he picks out! Try it yourself and see if it makes a change for you) , I leave my phone of the counter and only check email once or twice while they are working on something independently. I have my ringtones and text tones set to different things for different people so just with a sound I know if it is something I need to pause and deal with immediately, or if I can let it wait until we get to a stopping point. When I have poured into my morning with my kids and we have spent that time together, then my afternoon flows so much better and easier.
2) Food- I have three kiddos with very different food allergies (and I have a few myself), so just grabbing junk food isn't going to cut it. However, having meals that my husband knows how to prepare, making a meal plan, and making sure that I buy things that everyone can eat, helps a ton. Having healthy, nutritious, allergy-friendly meals is a must!
3) Being available. When my kids want to play a game in the middle of the afternoon, I want to be able to focus on playing with them (Which is one of the reasons I chose to work from home, so I could watch my kids grow up!) so, I like to schedule my week so that when those requests come up, I can stop, play a game, and then go back to my work. Also closely attached to this one is that I have 15 minutes of "Book" time after lunch, for me, that is 15 minutes that I am writing my book, and for the kids, that's 15 minutes they are reading a book.
4) Family Days- This is a new one for me this year. My husband works, A LOT, and for a long time, I tried to crunch in my work time when he was home so that I could focus on work and not kids (I've made some huge changes and adjustments this year that have made that not necessary and I'll be sharing those over the next few months!) but then I realized that I was always working and that vacations were never fun because I wasn't enjoying myself, or my family. So now, I have it set up where I take off days when he is off work, and in particular when my older two are off of school. Vacations are vacations and work can wait.
Those are my non-negotiables during this season of our lives. Like I said, they've changed and morphed as my children have changed and gotten older. But, knowing where I am starting from and the available space and time I have to plan the rest of my day around helps out tremendously and keeps me from feeling overwhelmed. Knowing what the most important things are to me helps me make sure that I am spending that time or moments with my family and it keeps me from resenting my work or feeling like it is taking me from my kids and then beating me up with a heavy dose of mom guilt.
So this month, I want you to think about your non-negotiables. What is it that in 30 years you don't want to look back at your life and realize you missed? What are those important things that you don't want to see taken out of your day? What are those areas that you want to protect and maintain with every breath and fiber of your being? Write those down and keep them in a place that you can see (and don't be afraid to change them as you need to!). These are just as important as your business goals, think of these as your life goals, and protect them with all your life! These are the foundation on which you can start to build the rest of your day!
I'll be back next month to talk about just that, how I build the Rhythm or Routine of my day and some thoughts to help you start to plan yours. I'd love to hear about your non-negotaibles so feel free to leave them in the comments! And don't forget, if you want to make sure that you don't miss a post in the Bizzy Mom series, you can sign up for my email list right here and you'll get it delivered right to your inbox each month!