I’ve been finding a lot of business articles lately (I read them for my career coaching business) to the effect of “What Successful People Do Before Breakfast Every Day” or something similar. I read these articles and think about why we, as homeschool moms, as moms in general, aren’t looking at these articles and applying them to our own lives. Heck, don’t we even make jokes of being “CEO of ___ Home” sometimes?

I WANT to teach my children successful life skills. I WANT them to have the ability to be successful CEO’s, if that is what their future entails. But yet, we all know kids learn by watching US. US. So, why aren’t we implementing these lessons in our own lives? Do you really think the only thing you can pass on to your children is how to clean a bathroom and cook a meal? Why aren’t we homeschool moms truly considering ourselves successful leaders? Aren’t we? Don’t we want our family (i.e. “company” in terms of these articles) to be successful? Aren’t we leaders of our children? How can they learn to lead themselves if we don’t first lead them?

So, those are the thoughts that were rolling through my head when I saw the article, “Here’s the Schedule Very Successful People Follow Every Day” this morning.  Following the points of this article, here are some of the thoughts I had about our new year and new schedule. (The article talks about “systems” and “routines.” I like those words a lot better- they seem a lot less stressful!)

“The Morning Ritual-Laura Vanderkam studied the schedules of high-achievers. What did she find? They rise early. Almost all have a morning ritual.”

Oh my gosh, I HATE this one. I am NOT a morning person. I NEVER WILL BE SO QUIT TRYING TO MAKE ME ONE! I will never be someone who gets up at 4am just to get ahead of everyone else. Seriously, I want my sleep! 7am is the maximum earliest I will get up. Period. Forever. There is not enough money in the world to me to deal with 0’dark-early. But, I will admit to dragging out of bed much later whenever I’m allowed by the shorties in the house. Add laziness in with dealing with chronic health issues and a touch of occasional insomnia – and you’ve got a recipe for a late-starting-mama.

So, yes, I’m going to start setting our new home and new year with “systems and “routines” for mornings. I’ve got the girls pretty well set up for themselves, and now I’ve got to go back to implementing one for me! My unwritten list currently consist of:

  • Praying and Praising God before I even get out of bed. Giving Him my first moments of the day.
  • Showering and getting dressed and ready for the day- basically what I call “looking like a human being” (minus makeup unless I have to).
  • Making my bed and straightening up of my room. (I make the girls do it, I need to model good habits for them. At least that is the mantra I repeat to myself.)
  • Wipedown and straightening up of bathroom. (Again, I make the kids do it.)
  • Starting the chores that can do themselves (laundry and dishes).
  • Overall straightening up to start the day of the top floor of the house before going downstairs. Not the deep cleaning but making sure one floor is more or less presentable. Seeing if certain chores needed to be added to kid list that day, such as dusting, etc. Grabbing whatever doesn’t belong on that floor and moving it to appropriate floor.
  • Throwing food at the children. Someone else might refer to that as loving making breakfast for your darlings, but less face it, coffee has not happened on this list yet!

And yes, I’m going to make it a goal to actually start being consistent with this routine at 7am.

“If you want to achieve work-life balance you need to determine what is important and focus on that. (And research shows goals make you happier.) Having concrete goals was correlated with huge increases in confidence and feelings of control.”

Oh yeah, us homeschool moms love our goals and plans, right? I believe creating your homeschool mission statement (here or here) or a family mission/vision statement is the very first step. And I’m sure that you’ve created your curriculum plan and have that organized, because that’s usually the very first thing us homeschool moms think of!

But, what about the rest? The home, church, outside activities, family life, and yourself? What are those concrete goals?

For the first time in several years, I created a list of goals for this year for myself – ones that had nothing to do with homeschooling! Because, you know what? I am not JUST a homeschool mom. I am a woman, a wife, a mom, and a small business owner. I am also a scrapbooker and lover of music. I am a Child of the Most High God. And I have found that when I shove all that to the side to give it all only to the homeschooler part or only to the work part, that “work/life balance” thing feels very out-of-tune. And I feel miserable because my own personal needs are being shoved aside and not fulfilled. Those things MUST be scheduled in a built into my routine ON PURPOSE! There are things I need to do to survive, and there are things I need to do to thrive. Attending an indepth Bible study, scrapbooking once a month with friends, getting that occasional date night out.

Which leads us to:

“Important Work First Thing — With No Distractions . . . Early morning is also when you’re most disciplined. . . In studies of geniuses, most did their best work early in the day.”

Yeah, running around trying to squeeze everything in because I started my day later than I ought just builds more stress and makes me more cranky. Added in, I start homeschooling with that lengthy ToDo list pounding through my brain and little girls clamoring for my undivided attention. Stress upon stress upon stress does not equal success. Stress makes me tend to withdraw and burrow into my hole – which honestly leads to less satisfaction and less homeschool success as well. I can’t tell you how many times we ended homeschool “early” this past year just because I couldn’t deal. I just desperately needed space!

I just really need ALONE time in the morning. I need to be by myself, alone with my thoughts. I need to be able to focus on ToDo list and create mental order to my day. Being more of a introvert than 2/4 of my family (which is not saying much because that 2/4 of the family is SOOO extroverted they’d talk to a brick wall), I feel like I need to “prepare” to deal with people each day. I do better when I have this “white space” in my life.

If I actually start my date remotely on time, I will have the ability to do this. I plan on blocking out one hour each morning for myself – for devotional and prayer time, for writing time for work (where most of my ToDo list gets bogged down), etc. Sometimes to accomplish this I have been outside while the girls ride their bikes or play outside (burning off some of their Energizer Bunny energy) and that works too. But I just need this time as much as I need air.

Regroup When You Slow Down.”

If I have learned one thing in the past few years, is to listen to my body. I have to respect it when it is telling me that I am getting close to hitting the wall. There is no such “”pushing through” or “pushing past” it for me anymore. I no longer have the Energizer Bunny’s energy and that was a bitter pill for me to swallow. So if my body says take a break, I must take that break. Often it won’t be long, perhaps a 20-30 minute rest will do it.

Also, studies show there is a normal lag around 3pm in your circadian rhythms- make sense why 3pm is normal “coffee break” time right? That’s why I really love the idea of “afternoon tea.” Not that I like tea so much. I do like the idea of just taking a break and recharging and reconnecting with family for a few minutes each day before the craziness of the afternoon and evening starts. If possible (with my work schedule), I am going to try and start an “afternoon break with Mommy” each afternoon when my girls normally have snack-time, where we can sit and have “tea” together. This will just be a slightly fancier version! And to help out, I can give my girls the project of setting the table and getting everything ready (except the actual tea) beforehand.

“A Relaxing Evening. Though successful people do work long hours, the greats almost all take the evening off to recharge.”

When you work out of the home, the idea is that you leave work there and not carry with you through the front door. But when you ARE at home, it’s like you never leave the office! At some point you just need to STOP. Stop cleaning, stop prepping, stop organizing and checking emails and writing articles and whatever. And this is the part I am just not that good at.

Part of that was the stress of trying to keep up with DC-based finances and also build up my business as well. In effect,  I’ve been doing jobs at once – homeschool, mom, my business, and a contract job to fill in the cracks. And well, that often spilled far into the evenings. I am hoping and looking forward to that improving in our new home. At some point you have have to say, “To Heck With It All!” and leave it for another day.

And how in the world do we recharge? I love reading to the girls before bedtime – it gives me an excuse to re-enjoy some of my childhood favorites. (We are in the midst of On the Banks of Plum Creek now, and I’m planning to read Pippi Longstocking next.) Perhaps I’ll play with my scrapbooking stuff, or recharge and reconnect with the hubby. Goodness knows we could use some of that. Perhaps occasionally I’ll be able to squeeze out for a walk/jog in our new neighborhood while hubby is in charge of bath time? Obviously anything with screens is discouraged,  because the false light is actually not going to help you sleep at night.

And one of the main points, and something I’ve been trying to improve on this year, is going to bed at a reasonable hour. If you’re staying up til 2am, then of course it’s going to be hard to make it through the day! Since I’m more of a night person (surrounded by morning people), this is difficult for me to do, but I feel so much better when I make it happen. My current goal is to be in bed by 11 – with the idea that hopefully sleep will not be far behind.

“Knowing the best time to get the right things done is key. What will this schedule do for you? Well, when the day ends you’re still going to find that you didn’t get everything done. But that won’t bother you much because you did the things that mattered, and did them well.”

What I love about this article is that it’s not about being a “drone” tied to the clock, or being a slave to a “schedule.” I like that it focuses more on how working with your body’s natural rhythms can be more successful and more rewarding. And that is what I am personally striving for. Yes, I probably won’t get more done, but I hope to get done what is more important and get it all done well.

If you have “routines” or “systems” that work well for you, I’d really  like to hear about them! I am always looking for new ideas! Let’s all help each other start our “new year” off right!