As a mother of young children I have often struggled with the question of how much of my time belongs to me and how much of it belongs to them. Over the past 5 years I’ve tried many different approaches in hopes of finding that magic medium that gives me and my children just what we need to be happy and fulfilled. I’ve ranged from focusing 100% on my children during the days to setting aside only a small portion of my time to give them my full attention.
As with most things in my life balance has seemed to work best. Right now we usually have time set aside in the day for them to play on their own while I work on my things and some time to play together, all mixed into our homeschooling day.
I find, however, that when it comes time for me to give them my full attention, whether it’s playing a game, reading them books or watching them jump on the trampoline I still struggle with mentally focusing on them. In other words, my mind wanders and usually it’s wandering down the path of “what was it I needed to be sure to do today?” There have been countless times I’ve spaced out and missed something my children have done only to be brought back to the present with the familiar cry, “MOOOOOOM! YOU WEREN’T WATCHIIIIING!!”
I’ve been working on this for years now and the harder I try and focus on my kids, the more distracted I get. Resolving to put my iPad away helps enormously because there is nothing that can drag my attention away quicker than the sound of a text coming in or the ease with which I can “look up something real fast.”
Still, even without my devices, my mind races with tasks and other information that I want to be sure to remember.
Here’s where the Mind Organization for Moms (M.O.M.) program has helped. M.O.M. is an eCourse developed by the cofounder of Power of Moms, April Perry. (Never heard of Power of Moms? Click here for an awesome website dedicated to helping mothers do their best.) The program is based off of David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done and provides an extremely in depth organizational system that is specifically aimed at parents. Really though, the tools used in this system are applicable to anyone who has many tasks to accomplish, events or activities to keep track of, projects to get done and/or tons of paperwork to handle. The main goal of M.O.M. is to eliminate the stress that comes with staying on top of things so that your mind is free to focus on the right thing at the right time.
Translation: I can finally sit and play with my kids without trying to remember the next 4 things I need to do before dinner… or by Sunday… or in the next 5 years.
This program is INCREDIBLY thorough. It delved into every aspect of my life, pulled out all the information associated with each of those aspects and taught me how to sort it so I will never again be worried that I have forgotten something important or have let something slip thorough the cracks.
Through the use of files, lists and a calendar, M.O.M. walked me through setting up what is called my “machine”. This is basically the hardware (think file boxes, cubbies and list making apps) that houses my paperwork, ideas, goals and tasks. Now that my machine is set up I have an organized, clearly labeled and easily reviewable place for everything in my life that now or at some point need my attention.
M.O.M. has a ton of information in it. Every step of setting this system up is very clearly spelled out with detailed instructions and multiple examples. The material is provided in several formats including PDF’s, videos, podcasts, printable worksheets, pictures and text. There is an option to follow a two week start up format that breaks down the entire system into 8 assignments that will be emailed to you one assignment at a time. I found these 8 assignments to be the easiest and most direct way to get going.
I appreciate that this system takes into account things that are obviously pressing in my life as well as the little things that I have on my mind but often dismiss as unnecessary.
I’ll give an example. I often get ideas about things I’d like to do for my children when they are grown and out of the house. These ideas come to me at various times and when they do I usually think to myself, “Oh man, I hope I remember that when the time comes”.
Remembering something for 18 plus years can be a long, stressful time. Every so often, though, my brain would give me a little reminder about these ideas, often at very inconvenient times. I’d be in the middle of making dinner (which I had forgotten to buy the main ingredient for) while my two youngest children were fighting over a book and my oldest was yelling from the other room that the vital piece of his current lego masterpiece had gone missing and I needed to help him find it NOW.
So, when my brain sent that little random pop up reminder window that says, “Hey, don’t forget you want to be sure to send surprise care packages to your future grown daughters when they have young children”, instead of feeling excited and like I’m an awesome mother, I felt stressed and upset because how can I possibly remember to do that when I can’t even get dinner made?
No more, my friends. Now that sweet idea goes into my “Someday Folder”, one of several files that’s part of the M.O.M. machine. The idea is that it holds all of your ideas, projects and tasks that you want to address someday. Even if the time for those things are years and years away. Combine that with a regular weekly review of this and other folders in the machine and bam! I can rest easy that I will remember and have access to my awesome idea and now my brain can stop sending me little reminders at inopportune times. And, if it does still bring up the topic on occasion I don’t have to stress that I still have over 18 years to try and keep that thought in my head (or keep track of the paper I wrote it down on).
Another component to the program I found helpful was the mind sweep. Basically, I wrote down or collected the corresponding paperwork for every single thing I have had on my mind at some point. I didn’t realize how much stuff I had been trying to keep track of in my head. Things like what I wanted to change in our home, things to buy or sell, letters to send, events to plan, routines to implement, papers to file, new ways to interact with my children, people to pray for, long term goals for my personal development, things to discuss with my husband, books to read, blog posts to write, research to do, new recipes and exercises to try. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I seriously had sheets of paper covered front and back with lists as well as a whole pad of sticky notes I scribbled on. No wonder I couldn’t focus on my kids.
All of those things have now been sorted into their appropriate spots and what a relief to know they will be gotten to in their own due time.
Other aspects of the program I found helpful were:
- Identifying and prioritizing the most important next step of any task I am currently working on.
- Setting up my daily calendar so it’s actually useful instead of a stressor. (I tended to write everything I thought I might get to that day on my calendar and then I’d feel quite guilty when I didn’t get to half of it.)
- The ability to easily see absolutely everything on my plate so I can know what new projects may or may not be a good idea to take on.
- Providing a system that insures when those barely-keeping-my-head-above-water days come due to illness or other unforeseen events, I won’t loose track of things.
Would I recommend this program? Absolutely, with two additional thoughts.
One: Setting up this system is very time intensive. All together I spent approximately 19 hours over five weeks going through the course. At times I was overwhelmed with the amount of information I was receiving as well as processing. I really had to take it one step at a time and not get ahead of myself.
Personally though, I feel those were 19 hours well spent. The woman who created this program set up her machine nine years ago and with about 20 minutes a week to maintain it, she has never had to build it again.
Two: I have always been a list maker, sometimes to my detriment but usually to my benefit. M.O.M. is based on list making so it was a pretty natural process for me. Honestly, I’m not really sure how you would organize at this level without lists, but that’s probably because I find them to be such a useful tool. If you have some strong issues with lists, this may be a difficult system for you to use.
A disclosure note here. I was not paid to write this review though I did receive a free copy of the $75 version from Power of Moms for the purpose of reviewing the course. I have not experienced the Premium Version.
Having gone through the course, I feel that it is worth $75. The Power of Moms website also has a free eCourse called Master the Whirlwind that teaches certain components of the M.O.M. program as well as other free or less expensive organizational tools and help.
If you’d like to enter a giveaway for a free copy of the $75 version of M.O.M. from Power of Moms then leave a comment below stating what aspect of your life (kids, house, small business, whatever) you think would most benefit from some in depth organization. The winner will be randomly chosen on Saturday, May 9th.
A note for those reading this on Facebook. In order to be entered into the giveaway your comment must be posted on my actual blog, not Facebook. Just click the link you’re reading and it should take you right there.
Here’s to a focused mind… and remembering to buy the right ingredients for dinner.