Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Keeping Track of Sacrifices

Lent begins tomorrow. Are you ready? In some ways I feel Lent is overdue this year. I started some practical resolutions last week to get my days in order, knowing I could not begin to make spiritual progress without such simple rules. Last week, I strived to:
  • wake up at 6AM every morning, shower and pray by 7AM whether the baby is asleep or not
  • begin school at 9AM on school days
  • give my children only one warning before a consequence (stop nagging)
  • pray the Angelus before lunch daily
  • take my children outside at least 30 minutes each day
  • get out my old chore lists and check them off
The week was quite successful, even though John Bosco had the flu. I did not do all these things every day, but I did do most things pretty closely every day and at the end of the week, I was pleased with my progress. This week, I wanted to add a few more things before settling in to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. So I came up with this list to add to the above items:
  • write a meal plan for all 3 meals for the week and mostly stick to it
  • use fewer words to communicate more clearly, especially with my children
  • engage my children in preparing for and beginning Lenten practices
  • spend 30 minutes a day writing
As of now, this week is about the same as last week, insofar as keeping these resolutions goes. I share these details to tell you the two things that have motivated my success. Perhaps they will aid your success in keeping your Lenten resolutions. Perhaps you don't need them during Lent but can file away these ideas on personal  growth for another time.
1. I found a friend with the same vocation and a similar family situation. We both are Catholic homeschoolers whose husbands are rarely home during the week and whose children are not yet old enough to do a lot of work independently. We decided to be accountability partners. Each Sunday we email the other our list of goals for the week. We also text each other every morning upon waking (since we both chose the same wake up time) to ensure the other is up. Finally, on Fridays, we touch base to see how the week went.

This has been very helpful! It is a relief to know there is someone else out there struggling with self-discipline like I am. One benefit of homeschooling is that you make all the decisions and are entirely in charge - no school bell to beat, any teaching philosophy you choose. But, one challenge of homeschooling is that you make all the decisions and are entirely in charge - sleep in late, no paycheck to earn for a job well done. Plus, just the discipline of writing these things down and having to evaluate myself has been motivating.

Thanks, Friend!

2. Inspired by The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, I have created a chart to check off my goals daily. (more thoughts on the book later) My chart for Lent can be printed from my Scribd account here if you want a copy. Across the top, I simply wrote each goal, and I check them off each day I am successful. I have used a handwritten chart for the past two weeks, but I look forward to using the simple typed chart for the 40 days of Lent.

Having a chart like this has required me to be honest with whether or not I am fulfilling the basic responsibilities of my days and my weekly goals. I have tied some things to simple rewards, such as unless I do x, I cannot get on the computer. But, mostly, the chart merely brings to mind daily (several times a day, actually) my goals and has helped me to stay focused and motivated.

Thanks, Gretchen!

These two simple things have unstuck me from my deer in headlights indecisiveness about what to do each day or what personal changes to make first. I have a long way to go on my path to holiness, but these little helps might just make it a little easier for me to get a little closer a little sooner.

May this Lent be life-giving to you!

1 comment:

Catie H said...

What a wonderful post, Jenny. I wish I had read it sooner into the Lenten journey. The texting idea is phenomenal since the morning snooze buttons is probably one of the day's greatest battles for us stay-at-home/homeschooling moms. I appreciate your insights so much! It would be great to have an update on how it's going (and some motivation for the journey!) now that we're nearly three weeks in. :)