“The most important thing in life is knowing the most important thing in life.”-David F. Jakielo
Single mothers go to great lengths to provide for and protect their children often forgetting that if they aren’t healthy and strong their children will suffer as a result. Is taking care of your self a priority or is taking care of everyone else your priority? Setting priorities, for the single mom, may seem like straining spaghetti while you change a diaper. They both need to be done and if not done on time a mom could have a mess on her hands. All tasks seem to demand immediate attention. Some days, probably most days, it can be difficult to figure out what is the most important task to do first. You have laundry to do; the kids do need clean underwear. You have meals to prepare; the kids do need to eat. You have bills to pay; the kids do neat electricity. All seem urgent at the moment. But in any given moment are they the most important thing to do?
It appears impossible to differentiate the important from the urgent. You’ve probably heard the saying, “Don’t let the urgent get in the way of the important.” You’ve heard it because it speaks volumes of truth. Taking the time to evaluate the priorities in your life will be well worth the effort.
As Pastor Marvin Winans said in his eulogy for Whitney Houston, “to prioritize simply means to arrange in order of importance. It means setting up your life on things that really matter.” Do you know and do your children know what really matters in your home? Yes, your time is extremely limited and you are consumed with responsibilities. Yes, your days are filled with dilemmas. And yes, you are tired and overwhelmed. Also yes, you are a resilient and loving mother who can and will make it through. Aligning the priorities in your home will make your days simpler and will give you a sense of control over your life.
The important thing is to put first things first.
What are your ‘first things?’
I pruned roses this morning. Pruning is like raising children. I never feel like I’m doing it right. Though I know it’s necessary for a full and well-groomed bush this spring. There is plenty of instruction on the Internet about how to prune a rose-bush. There are diagrams on how to hold the shears and what angle to cut. There are illustrations of different types of roses and how to prune each. There are sites and opinions to spare.
I’m classified as a gentle pruner. Maybe I should be more severe. I know that I have to visualize what will happen to each cane when it starts to sprout with new growth. I must think of the direction I want it to grow.
It isn’t easy to know when you set limits or ‘prune’ your children’s activities exactly how that will effect the future. Patience is required because the results may be years away. Setting priorities really involves choosing what not to do as much as it involves choosing what to do. It means deciding what comes first.
How can you know, as a single mother, what to choose as the ‘first things’ in your home? What is the difference between the urgent and the important? Some have said that the urgent is seldom important and the important is seldom urgent. Routines create a sense of control over your turmoil. Routines also give children a sense of security. It helps them feel safe. We could all use a greater sense of positive expectation, which is what routines provide. Your routine will guide you as you learn to set limits on your own life.
Limits on your self will be your fence posts. They will provide you with a boundary of protection from allowing the urgent to push aside the important. Harvey Mackey puts it so well, “Decide what your priorities are and how much time you’ll spend on them. If you don’t someone else will.”
Time is a measure of your days. You know how many hours are consumed in your workweek. Do you know how many hours a week you: spend in the car, spend watching television, spend on household chores, spend on conversation with your children, spend in worship, or spend on personal self-care?
Establish priorities in your home. Make a conscious decision about the schedule of how you and your children will spend your time. Not only will it bring you peace of mind, it will teach your children a skill for life that will make a genuine difference.
When it all seems totally out of your hands here is the complete Serenity Prayer. It works wonders on the soul.
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace,
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will,
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.