Soon after we married, my husband left his job to start his own business.
He is equipped with a head for numbers and always wanted to be business owner.
I, on the other hand, don’t have an entrepreneurial bone in my body, but I did what I could – I encouraged, listened, and continued working. Then we had a baby and I landed my new favourite job as a stay at home mum.
The business started to gain momentum. Increasingly surrounded by the jargon of the small business community, I began to notice that much of what was being talked about in business was also quite relatable to my new stay at home mum role. Four years on, I still wouldn’t claim to understand most aspects of business, but pottering the periphery has often surprised and challenged me in motherhood.
Early in the business journey we were given an exercise from a Business Coach to write down daily KPIs.
I recalled those annoying sales targets or “Key Performance Indicators” from past retail jobs- numbers like overall sales, number of items sold per customer or amount per transaction. As a sales assistant, KPI’s were used to give me an idea of what to aim for to make the manager happy.
I had certainly never considered applying a KPI to my day as a mum.
From the business owner’s point of view, the purpose of a KPI is to let them know if they are having a successful day. You should be able to look back over the list and, if the boxes are ticked, you’ve achieved what you set out to. Specific measurable targets are important here, but used broadly the concept is also totally applicable as a parent; what does a successful day look like for you?
There are days when my house looks like a scene from Jumanji.
I like to think we all go there at times. Part of me is okay with that – sometimes things have got to give, with toddlers and pregnancies and life, but I usually feel like a bit of a guilty failure when it happens. I like to have a clean house, but when I think about it, it’s not my KPI. It’s not an indication of my success. It’s not an indicator that I’m doing my quality mum-thing.
A successful day for me includes some time alone.
It includes some time spent with God and with my family.
Quality conversations away from phones.
Laughter and silliness.
Modeling self-control and kind interactions.
Healthy food and space for creativity trumps a tidy kitchen when it comes to success.
I recall times with a newborn when showering before midday was a true achievement. More recently success is standing my ground on a boundary with a toddler and, at 37 weeks pregnant, getting in a nap and an early night are top-of-the-list goals.
In his sermon series “A Beautiful Design”, Matt Chandler notes two frequent sin tendencies for women- perfectionism and comparison.
I can definitely relate to both. This combination may well be the backbone of that infamous motherhood guilt. Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing? Am I doing enough? Am I doing what’s expected of me? Am I doing as good a job as everyone else?
This little idea of KPIs has been a useful reminder of what is important to me and what is not. It has been something to which I’ve returned to help me prioritise when things get overwhelming and chaotic. It’s easier not to be unhelpfully critical of the way I’ve spent my time on days that seem far less than perfect when I know what really indicates success for me.
Setting my own benchmarks prevents me from comparing myself with others, cutting off the anxious and bitter responses which comparisons can bring.
Let this question be first an invitation to pause and encourage yourself in what you are doing exactly where you are right now, because this mum business you do, it’s a challenge!
And it is valuable.
What does a successful day look like to you?
You might also like:
Cat is a follower of Jesus, the tea-drinking wife of a coffee roaster and the stay-at-home mum of one busy toddler. She delights in the mingling of art and science, small and simple pleasures, wit and whimsy, and the doing of life. Her heart is to encourage. When she’s not pottering behind the scenes at Precision Coffee Roasters, you’ll likely find her eating cake, trying new recipes, making lists, or just playing – with or without a child.