Mastering Your Day with Ali Miller
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and what inspired you to “Master Your Day?”
I was first motivated to “master my day” when I was the absolute furthest from it. I innocently assumed that going from full time school and work to being a full time mom would be an easy adjustment. I don’t think I’ve ever been more wrong in my life. As a new mother, I had a really hard time feeling accomplished at the end of each day. I spent my whole life getting praise from external things and basing my worth off of what others told me. Good grades, work promotions, meeting physical goals, and how loud the applause was—that’s what filled me with purpose.
In the process of adjusting to motherhood, even when all the boxes were checked on my to-do lists, I was often stressing about what I may have missed, or how I could have done something better. I found this quote by Thomas S. Monson years ago, and I really try my hardest to live by it:
“Sometimes we let our thoughts of tomorrow take up too much of today. Daydreaming of the past and longing for the future may provide comfort but will not take the place of living in the present. This is the day of our opportunity, and we must grasp it.”
Though it is a constant work in progress, the concept of taking life one day at a time and living in the present has changed my life. With Heavenly Father by my side, I have learned that there are only three things I need to take care of: God, my family, and myself. As long as I do something each day for those people, I consider my day mastered.
How do you make sure God is at the focus/When do you have your Scripture Study?
I make sure God is at the focus of each day by showing Him that He is a priority. Before I do much of anything during my day, I say a prayer and have my scripture study. In the past, I did my personal study at night. While this is still great, I’ve found it much more beneficial for me personally to study in the morning. That way, I’m able to carry the spirit with me all day long and ponder on what I’ve read. There are many days when I don’t have time to sit and read, and on those days, I listen instead. While I clean, shower, or cook, I listen to my scriptures or uplifting messages from the leaders of my church. I’ve found that there are so many wonderful resources out there. Technology is amazing when I use it wisely.
What is the most important part of your day as a family?
The very most important part of my day for our family is from the time my husband gets home from work, to the time we go to bed for the night. In the past, I’ve been guilty of being at my best while at work, school, or with friends. I’ve spent all my mental energy on others, only to arrive home with nothing left in the tank for the ones that matter most. This all changed my last semester in college, on dreaded Tuesdays.
Somehow, I had class, work, and teaching from 6am-9pm every Tuesday for an entire semester. I didn’t even have time for lunch. I would inevitably arrive home completely exhausted and in a terrible mood. It was expected- it was a Tuesday! My poor husband learned to avoid me on D-day, and this made me a little sad. What was I doing? So one Tuesday instead of scavenging some leftovers out of the fridge, I asked my husband on a date. Even though it was late, we went to Chili’s and gorged ourselves on chips and salsa. Then the next Tuesday, we went again. Though I was beyond exhausted, it quickly turned into a tradition and something to look forward to on a very tough day. As the semester went on, Tuesday became one of the best days of the week, because we made it so. We consciously chose to end a very long and tiring day with something fun.
This concept has carried over into motherhood. Though I’m beyond exhausted at the end of the day, I prepare myself all day long to keep a little left in the tank for the ones that matter most. My husband does the same, and we try our hardest to be our best selves during those few precious hours we get to be together.
As a mother, I know I have the power to set the tone. When my husband gets home from work, I make it a big deal. We shout, “Daddy’s home!” clap our hands, and run up to give him a hug and a kiss. Occasionally we’ll meet him outside and wave him in. In the hours before bed, we have a family meal, scripture study, playtime, and prayer. This is where memories are made, lessons are taught, and love is shared. I try to think of it as my last big hurrah for the day—my final performance. I give it my all then I reward myself with the best thing in the world, SLEEP.
How do you keep a strong relationship with your spouse?
I can honestly say I’ve never heard my parents fight. Disagree, yes, but never an actual argument. So the first time my dear husband and I got into it, I thought we were done for. “This isn’t what married people do, what is wrong with us?” I thought to myself. But over the years I’ve learned that good marriages don’t just come automatically. Like anything good, you need to work your tail off to get it.
“If you want something to last forever, you treat it differently.…It becomes special because you have made it so.”
— F. Burton Howard
There are a few things my husband Jared and I do to treat our relationship as something special, that we want to last forever. The first is recognizing that a strong marriage has God at the center of it. I know that as long Jared and I are both moving closer to the Him, we will inevitably move closer to each other. My favorite part of each day with my husband is pillow talk. We try to ask each other questions that invite the spirit such as, “ What did you study today? What was the highlight of your day? Did you feel the spirit today?” This helps keep God at the center of our relationship more than anything.
I have also learned to appreciate that strong marriages are built upon the little things. I grew up finding notes my parents had written to each other on the mirror, kitchen table, and yes, even on the toilet. It’s amazing what a hand written note hidden in a special place can do to brighten my day. Small acts of love like cooking a special dinner or dancing in the living room help keep the spark alive in my marriage.
Communication is key. What I love most about my husband is that he notices me. He tells me thanks for vacuuming, and what a good mother I am. He does this out of sincerity, but also because he knows it means the world to me. How does he know? Because I’ve told him. When we first had our baby, we had to really work to spend quality time with each other and even carry on a real conversation. We make it a point to go on a date each week. Sometimes it’s a quick lunch date in the middle of the week with the baby in one of our arms, but we make it happen.
What are your daily essentials? (The few things you feel you need each day in order to function)
There are a few things I feel I need each day in order to function: my gospel study, a freshly made bed, a good workout, kisses from my little girl and husband, and a piece of candy before the day is complete.
How do you keep your house clean?
I am just a liiiiiiittle bit of a neat freak. I’ve really, REALLY had to work on letting this go since I’ve been a mom. You see, when your little one isn’t the greatest sleeper, you learn very quickly that any sleep you can get is much more important than cleaning…or even a shower for that matter. I’ve changed my perspective to see that toys on the ground are the sign of a day well spent. Now that my babe is a little older and sleeping more, I’m getting back into my normal routine. This may sound funny, but I try my hardest to keep my surroundings clean because I can feel the spirit more easily in a clean environment. Here is a copy of the weekly schedule I try to stick to:
Daily: Beds, Dishes, kitchen counters, trash, pick up toys before bed.
Monday: Grocery Shop/Clean Fridge
Saturday: Extras, deep cleaning, & catch up
I’d like to make it very clear that this is the goal, not the reality. In an ideal world, I’d love to have a perfectly clean house, but that just isn’t always the case, and I’m okay with that. In the past, messes caused me major anxiety, but I’ve learned that there are much more important things in life than cleaning. I know that one day, my house will be empty of children and I won’t have anyone to pick up after. So for now, I’m happy to leave little fingerprints on windows and toys on the floor so I can relish in the fun times that made the messes.
How do you facilitate regular discussions of Christ in your home?
The dinner table is the best place to be in our house. Sure it’s mostly full of broccoli thrown on the floor and bananas mashed into mush, but it’s also where we try to talk about what we’re thankful for and what we’ve studied in our scriptures for the day. My husband is really great about asking thought provoking questions at dinner and bringing up topics that really matter most—topics about our Savior. It wasn’t always this way. One day we were talking about how corrupt the world is, and how we could protect our kids from all the madness. We know the only way to do that is to teach them about their Savior, and to help them have a personal relationship with Him. Together, we decided to invite Christ to every meal. The dinner table is kind of like a sacred reminder for us—when we’re there, we invite Him to sit with us. In fact, the idea just came to mind to set a place for Him at the table. That way, you and everyone in your family can have a visual reminder of your special guest.
Something else I’ve done is hang a small picture of Christ in my girl’s room where she can see it easily. I tell her about Him whenever I can. Though she may not understand now, one day she will. I show her the picture and tell her that she has an older brother who loves her, died for her, and made it so that we can all be together as a family, forever. I believe that it’s never too early to start teaching children.
Like I said before, this is a constant work in progress. Some days I feel like I have it all together, and other days I’ll stay in my pj’s and watch the dishes pile up. It’s all about balance. To me, mastering my day is more than just making sure all the boxes are checked on my to-do lists. It’s about being okay with who and where I am at any given moment, and letting God’s grace take care of the rest.
I’d love to hear what works for you or if you have any questions! Please don’t hesitate to contact with me on Instagram @alicmiller or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org