Things I Prioritize

A week or so ago, Design Mom wrote a post about work/life balance and one of her suggestions was to prioritize sleep.

I’ve thought about that a lot and wondered about the things I prioritize. What things do I do, even at the expense of other things?

A few I’ve come up with off the top of my head:

  • Sleep. I do not stay up late. On a LATE night, it’s around midnight when we go to bed, but that is rare. We are usually in bed by ten thirty or eleven. I have never once in my life pulled an all-nighter (except maybe as an infant, in which case, Mom, I’m desperately sorry).
  • Food. We eat a pretty balanced diet and we direct a good chunk of our grocery money toward our CSA box each week. I make time to cook dinner virtually every night and it is extremely extremely unusual for us to go out for dinner because I don’t feel like cooking. I also am serious about not wasting food so we make big efforts to finish leftovers and use up odds and ends in the fridge (Bart is a saint to be on board with this).
  • Reading. Since Ella has stopped nursing four hours a day, I’ve had to make much more of an effort to read while she naps or when she plays outside. I try and keep something on my iPhone at all times so that I can listen to it in the car, or when I’m pushing her in the stroller or while I’m doing household chores or cooking.
  • Getting Ready in the Morning. I shower, put on makeup and do my hair every single day. My mom is like this too (even when she’s sick), and I’ve picked up from her that I’ll feel better about myself and my life if I’m not wearing ugly pajamas and my hair looks like something died in there. I don’t fear the UPS man’s knock at four p.m.  I hate to waste a nap time getting ready, but if I have to do it, I do it.
  • Being Outside. I think being outside is really important and I like to be away from the computer. If Ella wakes up early, we take her to the dog park and let her run around. Most days, in the afternoon, we sit on the shady side of our building and she plays on the sidewalk and grass.
  • Sun safety. Look, I’d love to be nice and tan, but I’d rather not have skin cancer and early wrinkles. I am very serious about wearing sunscreen at the pool and regular lotion with SPF in it. It’s September of one of the hottest summers on record in Texas and not one of the three of us have had a sunburn this summer. Huzzah!
  • A tidy house. I am not the world’s best cleaner and my kitchen floor is usually . . . unfortunate, but I keep most things put away. Our table isn’t piled with stuff, the bed is always made, Ella’s toys stay put away when she’s not playing with them, and the laundry gets put away the same day I wash it.
  • Having people over. We live in a fairly small apartment, we only have one couch, and my bathrooms aren’t always sparkling. Ella’s stroller sits in the entryway, and my patio has CSA boxes stacked on it. I don’t care. We have people over all the time anyway. We invite people for dinner or lunch after church, we host a monthly couples FHE group, we have game nights and birthday parties, we have spur of the moment dessert get-togethers, and many pool parties. I’m unwilling to wait until we have the ideal circumstances to be social. Last General Conference, we had nineteen people for dinner. Most people sat on the floor. We didn’t have fancy table settings (unless paper plates are fancy in your book). It was fantastic.

I wish I was better at prioritizing:

  • Exercise. It’s vital for me to have a partner or group to go with. Otherwise, I am mega hit-or-miss.
  • Doing fun things with Bart on weekday evenings. It’s easy for us to waste away our evenings after Ella goes to bed, just on the computer, etc. Stupid.
  • Deep cleaning. Kayla once told me that she always cleans her baseboards before company comes. I . . . have cleaned my baseboards exactly once in my adult life and that was when we put our house on the market. I can hardly keep my floor mopped – you can bet I’m not dusting my ceiling fans or scrubbing the oven very often.
  • Crafty things. I look at the amazing things Merrick does with a sewing machine and I am not good at doing these kinds of projects. I like to do them, but I just. . . don’t.
  • Staying up on the news. We get the Economist and on a good week, I’ll open it. And perhaps read one article. Most weeks are not good weeks.

Maybe I should prioritize buying some more seating. . .

And speaking of prioritizing reading, I’ve just reviewed Rules of Civility for the BlogHer book club. It’s historical fiction about the Great Depression in New York City. You can check out my review here.

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  1. You and me, we should be friends. Amen.

    I MEGA prioritize sleep. All my siblings etc. think I'm crazy but really and truly we got to bed between nine and ten most nights. I love it.

    Food is a pretty big priority for me too. We just about NEVER eat out and it is important to me that we eat healthy balanced foods. I'm all about whole grain and fresh.

    I do not leave the house in sweat unless it's to exercise. I hate the days I am not dressed by 10am. I don't, however, really wear makeup and in this heat my hair does not always get dried. But i am clean and dressed.

    We go for walks almost daily! Or sit on the front steps. I think kids need to not be couped up.

    I LOVE a tidy house. Being well organized and neat is a HUGE priority for me. Harder to do than I like with kids, but huge.

    Amen to no sunburns.

    I will say, however, that exercise is a big priority for me.

    I don't do great deep cleaning (but try!), I am not good at planning outings with Jeremy even on the weekends, and I am only so-so about inviting people over (even though I want it to be a bigger priority!), and I only know what's going on in the world via Jeremy.

    Wow. We have a lot in common!

  2. This is really interesting–I wish I prioritized getting ready in the mornings. Somehow I always wait until the kids are off at school and I *hate* going to drop-off with my hair a mess and no makeup, yet I almost never do it. I need to put this at the top of the list; you're right, it makes a huge difference in a day.

  3. I have not thought about this sort of prioritizing recently…and I really should! I'd probably be much less stressed!

    I find it a bit funny that our lists are almost exactly flipped – minus "crafty things" your second batch of items is all stuff I do…and the first batch is often stuff I neglect. Let's not talk about how the most makeup I've worn all week has been mascara and cheek stain because I'm not taking care of myself lately. Oh dear.

  4. Yep, sleep is incredibly important to me. Nothing, and I mean nothing, keeps me from sleeping. Except anxiety and even then I never give up. I like that you do your hair and makeup everyday. I admire people, especially moms, who manage this.

  5. Great post. A lot of these items are things I prioritize too, but now I want to sit down and actually make a list to see exactly what I want to and need to be prioritizing.

  6. Now that I have 3 meals and 2 snacks a day times 6 people in the family I find that the VAST majority of my time goes to cooking and cleaning up the kitchen. I think I figured once that I spend about 2.5 hours a day JUST CLEANING the kitchen (dishes, dishwasher load/unload, wipe table, floor, counters, pots, pans, wipe table again, etc). And it's still not perfect.

  7. Looks like we're on the same page. I actually read "The Happiness Project" which has made me recognize my priorities more, and Design Mom's post…both of those have made me decide I must go to bed earlier- although I still feel that "late" is 11 or later. I'm not doing too bad. I tell Taylor that as soon as he's done with school and has a real job, the first thing I'm saving up for is a good mattress and some fabulous pillows.

  8. Funny, I thought you'd be a deep-cleaning person. Honestly, it makes me feel a little better that you're not! I'm trying to put more of a priority on sleep, but it's really hard. My commute allows me to spend a lot of time reading each week. I've always loved to read, but I've never been able to get through as many books as I have these past two years.

  9. I really like Design Mom's blog 🙂 She seems to genuine and kind. Like you!

    It's interesting to read other people's priorities. It kind of reminds me of Maslow's pyramid of needs.

    I also have never cleaned a baseboard. 🙂

  10. You will be proud to hear that I have cleaned my baseboards exactly ONCE since moving into this house and it was not for company.

    My standards have become rather lax in the past year. Thank you, baby #2, for being a massive time and energy suck (and so darling I could die).

  11. I prioritise organising the contents of drawers and cupboards…in my pyjamas. My life needs serious review.

  12. haha. Paper plates are fancy to me. I prioritize exercise and it's so much easier to exercise with someone. I'd love to have an elliptical partner at the rec center in the mornings, but then we'd both probably have our noses in our books anyway 😉

  13. Call me selfish, but somehow it makes me feel better to know you're not too big into deep cleaning. 🙂 You are amazing at so many things and somehow it just makes you seem so much more like, you know, us normal folk. Seriously, I'd love to spend more time doing it, but it isn't my top priority–or even fifth or so.

    I am big on family time, sleep, exercise, and cooking. Oh, and work. I still work full-time.

  14. I'm with you on the tidiness, sun screen and food. I'm OCD about clutter, don't want those wrinkles and even dislike eating out too much.

    And the 1 time I cleaned my baseboards? When you were coming over.

    North Meets South

  15. Camille Kern just sent me a link to your blog because I LOVE to read and asked for some more books to add to my "to-read" list on GoodReads. So, let me just say that I am your new biggest fan. I hardly read any blogs of people I don't know, but yours will be an exception 🙂 I think we have very similar book tastes which makes me very happy because now I have a TON of books to add to my "to read" list!! Thanks! 🙂

  16. I am so happy to see sleep high on your list. We're all more pleasant when we're well rested 🙂

    Right now, I definitely prioritize sleep and exercise (I'm at the high end of what I'm supposed to gain during pregnancy and I have 9 weeks to go). And, I do feel a lot better when I get my muscles stretched out. Bill and I were talking the other day about how important it's going to be once the baby arrives to try and keep that up AND make sure that I at least get a shower every day, even if I'm just putting yoga pants on afterward.

    I should work harder on cooking at home (we eat out WAY too much) and keeping the house tidier (the downstairs always looks great – the upstairs, not so much).

  17. Love this post – it's so interesting to learn about others' priorities! I, too, prioritize sleep. Aside from that, I prioritize work and time with my husband. (However, sometimes those latter two priorities keep me from sleeping. I have pulled MANY an all-nighter. But I do it rarely because I am a MESS without proper sleep.)

    I wish I were better at prioritizing exercise, cleaning, and keeping up with friends/loved ones.

  18. Very impressed with your priorities. Especially this one: "it is extremely extremely unusual for us to go out for dinner because I don't feel like cooking" Not sure how you accomplish that. I'm dragging my feet trying to incorporate a regular Friday night, dinner at home into our week because I can hardly bear the idea of cooking at home rather than eating out. Is it pathetic that I desperately want to go out BOTH Friday and Saturday? But the budget conscious part of me knows I should make dinner at home. Any tips on achieving this sense of cooking dinner nirvana? I could really use it!

  19. Great post! It was so interesting to read your list and then think of my own priorities. I definitely value sleep, spending time with my husband, eating healthy, and a tidy apartment (although I am with you on not keeping up as much with the floors/oven/etc. – it feels good not to be alone in this!).

    Exercise is definitely something I need to be better about prioritizing too, as well as keeping up with hobbies and new things I want to learn.

    Also, I am so with you on sun safety. I love my unwrinkled, fair skin!

  20. I've been prioritizing sleep, exercise, food, reading, and crafting and I've realized it doesn't leave a lot of time for other things (I also work full time.) I hate to clean and realized, when I was unemployed, that no matter how much free time I have it's still a low priority. I, too, wish I was more up on the news but I just can't seem to fit that into my schedule. The problem is that you just can't make everything a priority. It's so hard to balance!

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