On this next-to-the-last entry concerning motivation, I want to tackle two extremes: taking it easy but not too easy!
It is all too common for people to want to do as little as possible—and still get good results. We see this all the time in Christian circles—the parents who let the church do all the discipling of their kids, hoping that this is enough; the parents who homeschool, sure that simply keeping them at home will solve the problems (but not truly addressing the problems); etc. In that vein, I hesitate to tell parents to cut themselves some slack. It is our experience that parents need told to dig in, put your shoulder to the grindstone, do the next right thing, etc. more often than not.
However, there are definitely those out there who do not cut themselves any slack; who work day and night, sure that their labors will make everything okay, etc. Those people, obviously, need to relax a little!
So, as far as motivation is concerned, we need to cut ourselves some slack AND work our tails off! How’s that for compromise?
Let me summarize this with a little advice and links to some past entries:
1. Cut yourself some slack; take time off when needed, guilt-free. When I had many small children, I always knew when I was working too hard, not relaxing or not taking enough breaks—and Ray knew it too! We tried to fit in breaks and easy nights, etc. for me as needed. You can only go full steam for so long—and then you either need relaxation or recharging (conferences, books, etc. are good for that) or both. (See former post for taking breaks from little ones’ needs: http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/2010/05/day-148-time-off-from-little-ones.html )
2. Watch out for time robbers. I know it can feel like you have many, many years to do these parenting things! Time doesn’t feel so constrained when you only have little ones. It feels like you have forever! But you do not. Take it from someone who is, well, more mature (smile…). It is so easy to think that what I do today doesn’t affect things that much, that I will have plenty of time later. And to let “time robbers” come in and steal our time (and with it, our motivation since when things get out of control with priorities, we often feel less motivated). See previous posts about this (there are actually four in a row; this one is first): http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/2010/02/day-thirty-four-change-your-television.html
3. Don’t take on extras or unreasonable goals that detract from what you really need to do. I am terrible at having an all or nothing mentality—if we can’t have a cleaning hour that I had in mind for tonight, I don’t want to do just fifteen minutes and move on. We may as well just forget it. That mentality has hurt me in my parenting—and I have had to learn the “little bits here and there” method in many areas of life. I often have lofty goals and projects in mind that I want to do—my way. One thing that our early mentors stressed to us that really stuck with us is the concept of not taking on too many things. I see moms do this all the time, and I want to shout, “Stop. That’s too much. You won’t be able to do what you want to do with your kids. You will be too overwhelmed. It’s just not worth it!” I have talked in detail about our priority purging on Positive Parenting 3*6*5. I have had to say no to many, many things through the years in order to do what I knew I needed to do. While others would sew beautiful clothes, decorate their homes, attend ladies’ Bible studies, etc., I was just doing the daily grind. (There is nothing in the world wrong with any of those—it’s just that with Ray’s work schedule for the first fifteen years of our marriage, those things were incompatible with our life.) Now I have two hobbies I adore—ballroom dancing and scrapbooking. However, those have to be kept in check as well. We simply can’t do everything—and we lose motivation for the mundane, daily grind when the more appealing things are calling to us. If you want to keep motivation strong—say no to many outside things so that you are not overwhelmed and shortchanging your family goals. (See more about prioritizing at http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/search/label/Organization
Tomorrow is the last day of motivation—trusting God. If we could truly get a glimpse of our calling, regardless of our circumstances, our motivation would never waiver!