It’s hard to set goals when it takes all the mental power you can muster just to set the table.
When my fourth baby was born, every night around 5:00 p.m., I would sit down to nurse her — and cry. Not because I was unhappy or depressed; it was total exhaustion. By that time, my day was only half over. I still had dinner to make, dishes to clear and wash, children to bathe, and of course, the nightly bedtime battles.
There is no better way to feel like a failure at life than to feel like you’re failing at motherhood. It’s an easy trap to fall into when never-ending chores loom in front of you.
We dream of motherhood — babies with adoring eyes that drink you in, toddlers that run to you and hug you tight, and say, “I love you, mommy.” Those simple pleasures are priceless gifts. The problem is that their worth can get buried underneath 12 loads of laundry.
Setting goals when you have babies and toddlers in the house can feel a little like shoveling the sidewalk while it’s still snowing. But you can set goals, and achieve them — even with babies and toddlers in the house.
Here’s something you need to know first.
There are two different types of goals — internal and external.
So often, people don’t take into consideration how these two goals work hand in hand. Many of the goals we want to achieve are either the byproducts of good habits, or unobtainable because of bad habits.
For example, you want to set a goal of losing that baby weight this year. Losing weight is an external goal you want to achieve, so you join the gym.
The first obstacle comes into play. You don’t get up before the baby does. You have interrupted sleep all through the night, so you tell yourself you get to sleep in until you absolutely have to get up. Then, the rest of the day is guided by urgent demands.
The first step in achieving your goal of losing weight — going to the gym — could actually be an internal goal: getting up an hour earlier to take care of yourself. Once you’ve achieved that, you’re halfway to your first step. You can spend that time exercising or preparing the day’s food so you can stay on track.
If you can focus on the internal goals of achieving habits that will nurture your new life with a baby, you have a better chance of making external goals a reality.
When choosing your goals, consider the season of mothering that you’re in. The seasons of motherhood shift with your growing baby. Don’t confuse the ability to keep up with housework and achieving external goals with the value of the time spent pouring love into your baby.
To keep those priorities in line in the wake of constant fatigue and sleepless nights, take time this year to think about what internal goals you can achieve. Then, as the seasons change, you’ll be in line to achieve your highest goals without sacrificing what matters most.