“Put first things first”

For years, I’ve been meaning to read Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” When Mr. Covey passed away this week, I found a slide show on washingtonpost.com illustrating his principles. While I think they are all words to live by, #3 “Put first things first” was the most relevant to me as a working mom. Covey said “to live a more balanced existence, you have to recognize that not doing everything that comes along is okay.” I couldn’t agree more and try to do this every day.

When I worked in the public sector, I’d often see great job opportunities, but would not apply because of the impact they would have on my family. I like being home by 5:00 p.m. I go to work early, so my kids spend as little time as possible in daycare (Chase drops them off). I rarely attend networking events because they’d keep me at work late. I turn down invitations for weeknight social gatherings. These are conscious decisions I made for myself and my family. I put our happiness first, even if it means I am missing an opportunity. After making these choices, I still have a rewarding career and home life.

I don’t have to do everything. I still do a lot. I work. I pick the kids up from school. I cook. I play with my kids. I clean. I go on dates with my husband. I grocery shop. I take kids to swimming lessons. I do DIY house projects. I push my kids on the swings. I write thank you cards. I spend time with friends. I pay bills. I kiss my kids good night, every night. My plate is pretty full and so is my heart. I don’t need to run a company, make homemade organic baby food (full disclaimer: I never once made baby food) or host fancy dinner parties weekly to be successful.

I strive for balance. Some days I walk the line well, while some days I fall off. But most days, I’m pretty darn happy. That’s because we “put first things first.” Thanks, Mr. Covey, for the reminder.

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