Simple on Purpose | Intentional Living and Parenting

Simple on Purpose | Intentional Living and Parenting

189. Prioritizing the day: if everything matters nothing matters and how to apply this in motherhood

October 10, 2023

Planning your day, week, month, even year is a great way to stay organized and on top of life, but it can become overwhelming and cluttered very quickly if you are not careful. When we plan without intention, and without knowing what the important things are, then we will be stuck in a lot of distractions and autopilot priorities. Join me in the first of a two part series about planning your day as a mom. 

In this episode I discuss: 

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Welcome to the simple on purpose podcast. If you are just joining welcome, it’s great to have you here. I’m Shawna, I’m a counselor, I’m a mom of three, living in Canada. And my whole goal with this podcast is to help you just take a minute slow down, get centered on the things that really matter to you and encourage you to clear out all of the distractions and the excess that keeps you from showing up well for your life.


Some fun things around our house these days, we’re doing that closet Reno, you might have seen the pictures and the simple Saturdays emails, I’m going to share more on that in the future because we had to reduce the size of the office to increase the size of the closet. And I feel like it’s just kind of had a few aha moments for me. So hoping to share on that in the future. If you have questions about it. I want to answer those questions. So send me those questions over Instagram or the synthesizers email, or in the Facebook group.


Of course, we’ve got some kids in hockey, hockey has started. We’ve got a kid in theater. So my social life is really just saying hi invite other moms. Essentially, thank goodness my bestie calls me on the telephone like an OG bestie that she is, it’s awesome.


I’m recording this before Thanksgiving in Canada, we’re celebrating it this coming weekend. So Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians.

It’s amazing that Thanksgiving can be such a social, like special time. It’s one of the best holidays, I think it really is just about gathering and eating. Two of my favorite things. Gathering in small doses though, I am an introvert.

Alright, so in this episode about planning your day, I was asked to talk about how I plan my day how I structure my week how I get things done the various forms of the question asking the same thing. And I did have a lot to say I wanted to offer you a lot of my reflections. So I’m going to do this episode into two parts. This will be the first part, I encourage you to listen to it first and then move on to the next.

And this first part I really wanted to talk about the overall concept I’ve learned and something I think a lot of us struggle with when we’re trying to plan our day get things done. And that’s the concept that when everything matters, nothing matters.

So for me coming into this online space, developing what I would call a work from home job. I started blogging when I had my first kid if you are an original blog reader of dovetail blog way back when on the Blogspot so nice that you’re still here. You we’ve grown up together probably. And the reason why I even wrote one sentence opened up Blogspot pressed publish was because of my first birth experience in my firstborn was an emergency C section.

And that whole experience for me, it was complicated. The recovery was complicated. The C section surgery was complicated. And I had a really hard time with that being my first birth experience. And I felt like this all these hard emotions, and I didn’t know what to do with them. I would reach out to friends who had babies. And they’re like, yeah, don’t really didn’t really go through that. And I felt so alone.

And this was like 2011, I was searching the internet for some kind of shared experience to read. And then that was back when it was blogs or Yahoo groups and they were each hard to find. So I was feeling really alone with it and just really burdened by it in the public health nurse because we have public health nurses who walk us through those early postpartum days. She suggested I write about it and just write it out. She said, and once I wrote that out, I thought someone else needs this. If I needed it, someone needs it. And that’s what I did. I put it on the blog spot. And boom, there it was. I was going to be a blogger.

Well, I didn’t call myself a blogger. I didn’t even really tell anyone because it was new and weird. And I had a whole career in environmental health. I’m not a writer. I’m not a blogger and like this is one kid How could I be a parenting blogger like that didn’t even know but it just writing became my outlet, a lens for my day. I could narrate my experiences in my head I could write them and it was just giving me this kind of like lens through my day.

It was giving me a little bit of a different purpose with how I was approaching motherhood and interacting with my life and my day A forum that this hobby of blogging was something that my family now had to accommodate.

So I think it helps to consider that I started doing this online stuff as a hobby. I didn’t show up for it like it’s my nine to five job. And you know what, that made it hard, it made it hard, because for one of my husband was not and still not on the internets. And here, I was asking for these afternoons away when we had tiny kids all at home, like, they were all born within three and a half years of each other. And I was just like, I’m gonna go to the coffee shop, so I can blog, what blog, I wasn’t making money, I was spending money. But my mind was kind of committed that if I just kept showing up, and blogging that this would become a job sponsors would fall into my lap, and it would all pay off.

And spoiler alert, it didn’t end up like that for many reasons. And I’m glad it didn’t. But this leads me to my first kind of piece of advice for any moms, especially work at home moms, who are asking how to get things done. And that is to be clear, be clear on what you’re doing, why and how you see it fitting into your life. I’m not saying don’t have hobbies, unless you can justify them. That’s really not what I’m saying.

But I, in my heart, I was treating this like a job without really knowing how to do that. And it was hard because I actually didn’t know what I was doing, or how it was going to work. And my husband was as supportive as he could reasonably have been. But if I didn’t know what I was doing with all of this, what I was doing and why and what it was all leading to, he definitely was wondering what I was doing. And you know, with two toddlers and a baby time away was at a high premium is so high that I probably said no to him a lot more. So I could have seen that being very frustrating to him and a definite blind spot for me at the time.

So get clear on what you’re trying to accomplish with your time. And if you want it to be a business, you need more than dedication and hope you need an actual plan and target. You might even need to bring them in income that covers your expenses at least.

My other piece of advice for work at home moms is to do work when you’re off mom duty. Specially when I was starting this like 12 years ago, MLMs were huge. And we were being sold the dream. I think that’s a podcast to about MLM is actually it’s really interesting, sold the dream that mums can work from home and earn some extra cash and get those things that quote unquote, you deserve. But have you ever tried working on something important with toddlers around? I mean, we’re working with them around all of the time.

But here is where we can make hard things harder. If we put a lot of emotional weight and onus on this task, like I need to post this thing for my Instagram. For my business. It’s important. There’s so much extra weight in there that any interruptions we have are going to be met with escalating frustration. And then we’re upset that we’re frustrated mom and our kids are upset because there’s like one at a snack. And it’s like this whole thing.

So if you have important work tasks, where you know, you’re going to be frustrated by interruptions and set that time aside, to get that work done when you have some kind of childcare. When my kids were all at home, like I said I was working when my husband was off work. And then eventually it moved to also me getting a babysitter every other week. Another thing we would do sometimes is swap kids with my bestie. So I’d watch her kids, she can go do whatever and she take my kids and I’m going to just do whatever I want to get done.

What’s ultimately happening is when you set that time aside to do these things, you will be much more calm and present with your kids. Because you won’t have this nagging sense of urgency but all the things you should be doing. You will just remind yourself yeah, and that happens on Wednesday mornings, add it to the list of things you want to get done. Declutter it from your mind brain, dump it and carry on with your day. It lets you show up with a lot more ease and kind of that less like inner panic running the show.

Over the years, I’ve tried many tips and approaches to planning my day. Goal setting planners, bullet journals, changing habits, all of the things that middle aged men with child care have written books on which goes to say that over the years I have had to learn how to do these things as a middle age stay at home mom. And as I was thinking about how to share with everyone how I plan my weeks and days now, I want to point out that I have worked on this for years and it’s been a lot of trial and error. There are years where I was overwhelmed, spread too thin, directionless, defeated, thinking just the right type of planner would save me or planning for all of the wrong reasons.

So in the next episode that we’re gonna get to in a second here I want to tell you what works for me and how I plan my day how I plan my week, but I want to share some of the core concepts the core or concepts is like so sciency the core things that I’ve learned that I must account for, in living on purpose living intentionally getting things done as a mom as a woman, as in the world.

And the first one is to honor your season. And this was advice I heard a lot, but I just glossed over it and probably even fought it. Or rather, I focused on what I wanted to do more than what I had to do. Like the good type nine, I’m like, I just want to do the things I want to do. And I thought the hard things should just be easier. Like this whole mom thing should just be easier. And if it was easier, then I could do all those other things I wanted.

So rather than just letting it be hard, and in it, for all of the heart, and all of the awesome, I was just trying to figure out a way to make everything easy, so I could get everything done.

One of the most validating things anyone ever said to me, as a mom with young kids, and she was a seasoned mom, you know, she had grown kids, she was observing me with my three small kids and being so lovely and talking to me. And she said, This is the hardest season that you’re in. I’m gonna put up a post about that. But that was one of the most validating things that kind of clicked for me like, oh, yeah, she’s been through it. She’s saying like, this is the hard one. When they say honor the season, they’re talking about kind of this season, like honor this season. It doesn’t go by fast, it goes by really slow, everyday is so slow. But we have to honor the season that we’re in.

And I just want to give you some encouragement now, from someone who just might be a little bit up the road where my kids are on school. If you are home with children, this is intense, and demanding. It won’t always stay like this. They might not hit the school soon, and you’ll exhale for the first time in a very long time. The baby and toddler years are a big investment in your time and your energy and it is very limited. So you need to be selective on how you spend your time and energy.

Which brings me to my next point. And that is you have to choose. This is about setting priorities about knowing what gets our Yes. And what gets our No.

And the cold hard truth is we cannot do it all. And there’s a part of us that fights that can you feel that you’re like, No, don’t cut off my options don’t limit me, I can do all of these things. Because once someone tells us, there’s limits on us, we suddenly feel like we’re missing out, or we’re not good enough. And that’s really the wrong fight to have.

We shouldn’t be fighting for the right to exhaust ourselves. We should be fighting for our right to live a life that pursues the things that matter to us, to our values to our vision to what we want out of all of this. And think about it from just like the essence of time. That’s our resource. It’s limited. We can’t do everything with that time. But we can do anything. And you get to choose what your anything is, it can be exciting.

If you have done the work, to outline your vision for your different areas of your life, I’ll link that in the show notes, then you should have a page of things that light you up your vision and your values need to be your compass. They tell you where to spend your time and energy. What matters to you. It’s different for each person, sometimes each person in your house, but you have that answer within you.

And if you aren’t in touch with your own values, you will just let everything matter. Everything will be important. Everything feels important. Everything feels urgent. It’s like metaphorically filling your house up with just stuff. Because if everything matters, nothing matters.

So the same way we need to ask what we want to use our home for our space for what what stuff feels like us? What stuff do we use? What stuff is beautiful to us, our life is the same. Declutter your life. Make space for the life that matters. You will always feel spread too thin and directionless. If you don’t know exactly what your priorities are, with how you spend your time and your energy.

The third point I want to make is that seasons change and so can you it’s intimidating the idea of selling on our vision and values. People get really overwhelmed with this exercise. I still use it with clients. And it’s exercises that are made in life on purpose workbook about four or five years ago. So I’m still using these concepts.

And it’s overwhelming to think and we just distill it down to this season. Like let’s just think about this season. Because you aren’t locked into a single thing. You write it on paper your values revision, you get to change your mind. Your seasons will change your babies will grow you will sleep again. Your time will expand you will finish school you’ll finish your renos, that broken vehicle will eventually be repaired.

But for us there are seasons where we had a lot of toast and eggs for dinner or leftover waffles just like constant waffles. There were seasons where the baby’s bedtime routine took precedent, because I just needed to be alone at the end of the night. In this particular season of my life, I’m choosing to work Monday to Friday 830 to three, or Monday to Thursday, I’ll explain more in the next episode. And it wasn’t always this way. And maybe it’ll change in the future. But that’s what’s working for this season.

So when you’re thinking about what you want out of life, about getting your work done, about how to make all of these things happen, remember, you are in a short season of a long game. So when you are considering what your vision is for the different areas of your life, what your priorities should be, and your priorities are like based on your values. Think about for just this season, what moves the needle for you this season, what sets you up for the long game, what’s important to you, right now, in this year of your life.

What we’re doing here is we’re getting focused, we’re prioritizing we’re zooming in, and we’re getting rid of the distractions in the excess. It’s, it’s a whole other conversation on the discomfort of letting go of the things we think are good, and calling them distractions, calling them excess and zooming in on these core things. But we are more successful when we can measure success by doing the thing that’s important right now, rather than measuring success by trying to do everything, everything’s important, and we can’t get it done. So we feel like a failure. That is all or nothing thinking and you got to be on the lookout for that.

A final takeaway I want to share is the power of doing the hard thing to make my life easier. Because for so long, I just wanted things to be easy. And when it was hard, I thought I was doing it wrong. If you were in the LOPA, the life on purpose Academy, the coaching program a couple of years ago, we talked about this in the hard things lesson. And you will remember what we talked about. When it is hard, it doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong, it often just means you’re doing it.

My life feels simpler now. And for one yes, my kids are on school, that vibe is real friends. But also because I think I’ve done a lot of background work a lot of front loading for the change that I wanted in my future, which my future is now.

For myself, I have been working on the life on purpose workbook for years, each year working on setting my vision, setting my values, and picking things that were going to move me towards this bigger picture, whether it was choosing to go back to school, or decluttering the house so it’s easier to maintain, or doing something like the 30 for 30 challenges so I can have more fun, and feel more empowered and more control over my closet. to learning how to meal prep. I actually remember to have an episode on this 11 things that made my mom life simpler. I’ll link that in the show notes.

It sounds intense, right when I say I’ve been doing all this front loading stuff. But this has been over many, many years, right. And definitely been doing a lot more of it once all of my kids started school, all of them in school five years ago.But over the years, I was choosing to be consistent with the little things.

Of course I failed. Remember I had years of overwhelm failure like to feel directionless, but I was still doing the work of establishing habits for myself little things. Were getting really nerdy about it, I was establishing new neural pathways and dopamine reward systems for the things that I wanted to do. But I didn’t yet love, like exercise or eating vegetables or going to bed early.

We’ve been front loading as a family to we have routines as a family that we aka me have worked really hard to establish the after school routine of what goes where and who does what and some days were to 60% success rate but better than zero to the routines we have around Saturday morning chores. I’ll link that in the show notes.

Those were things that took a lot of upfront work, a lot of hand holding and lists and emotional support. But eventually we made it a habit a routine. So it doesn’t have to be prompted and questioned and emotional tantrums about it. It’s just can happen.

When you’re applying this concept. Consider what can I do in this season that sets me up for the longer game. And what I want in my life and my family and my home and my work. I’m going to make sure to link the values and vision worksheets in the show notes. So stop by the show notes. I’m going to jam packet with a lot of related posts on these topics.

And if you’re listening to all of this and you want some support, if there’s something that felt like a sticking point for you or a place you’re stuck or a place that you just want to strategize on, come to the group coaching session, I have one on Friday, October the 13th. And I’m also doing a motivation workshop on October the 27th.

So check those out in the show notes if you think that’s going to help you and let’s continue the next episode I’ll be outlining my typical day week and answering the specific questions that you have sent in

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