Despite the bad rap this words gets, goals have the potential to transform any sleep-deprived, emotionally drained mom into the confident, spirited mom God created us to be.

A goal helps us organize our time, and gives meaning and purpose to our day- as opposed to just surviving whatever issue we’re currently facing. Survival-mode is no fun, and if left there too long is a recipe for disaster or, more appropriately for moms, depression.

Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go…”  While I believe that truth, and I do all I can to practice it, it’s kind of vague.  Know what I mean?

Breaking things down into small steps or goals makes things much more manageable.

I started making goals from the day we brought Lily home from the hospital.  They were small ones- like teaching her to take a full feeding every 3 hours, but they gave me something to focus on.  As she’s gotten older, they’ve built on one another and made each stage a little easier to transition into.

This has become more complex with the addition of each child, but it’s also become more crucial than ever.

Here’s an example of my current goals:
Efraim (19 mo.) – self-feed w/ a spoon (neatly!), sleeping without a pacifier, play contently in the pack-n-play for 30 minutes
Cailyn (3 1/2 yrs.)- self-control with her emotions, using her words to tell us how she feels- not crying, staying dry at night.
Lily (5 yrs.)- greet adults enthusiastically, being bold with her friends at school when they say inappropriate things.

A few things to think about when it comes to goals:
1. Stick with it.
Our kids read us better than anyone.  They will learn if we mean what we say or not by how we follow through.  We lose credibility in their eyes if we don’t commit to it.

2. Teach them how.
Before we can expect something new from our kids, we have to teach them HOW.  Too often parents assume that kids know how to do something- it’s commonsense right?.  With a little direction and intentional instruction, our kids can learn how to do things- and do them well!  I once overheard a mom in a restaurant berating her preschooler for not eating right.  By the way the kid responded, I wondered if anyone taught him.  How will they know if no one takes the time to teach them?    

3. Challenge them.
Whether it’s the bottle, paci, potty, or ______________, don’t wait for your child to take the lead.  Stay ahead of them, lead them, and teach them to follow you.  If you are constantly waiting for them to show interest first, they will be continually frustrated because developmentally they have been ready for a new stage for a while- they just didn’t know how to tell you.

Kids can do way more than we realize, or even expect.  My kids remind me of this everyday!  Whenever possible, I err on the side of expecting more, not less.  Also, I challenge my kids differently depending on what each of them need.  Lily needs different challenges than Cailyn and vice versa.  I’m not just parenting to check off each accomplishment, I want them to succeed in life too.

As much as we would like, our kids aren’t going to just wake up one day and decide to be polite, well-mannered, disciplined, responsible people.  Someone has to take the time to show them the way.  It’s not the job of your kids teachers, coaches, or pastors, it’s yours Mom (& Dad!).