Mastering Your Day with Kim Stoddard
Do you ever feel like you’re always two steps behind just trying to play catch up, never really getting ahead and least of all finding peace? Too often we live simply putting out fires, feeling swallowed up by the sheer amount of tasks in our lives. At other seasons of life our minds are so overcome with thoughts of reaching our goals or completing our to-do lists that we forget to find joy in each day and live in the present. We miss the smiles, sacred moments, and opportunities to grow and serve others because we are simply too occupied.
We know the key to a successful life is to put God first, but is it really possible with all the demands of our day?
Over the next two weeks we’ll be hosting a mini-series called “Mastering Your Day”, where we've interviewed a few incredible women to learn how they schedule their day to put God first, and still get things done. Today's first post kicks off our series, and we're so glad to have Kim here to share what's worked for her!
Tell us a little about yourself, and what led you to “Master Your Day” and the schedule you’re using now?
It is funny that the series topic is “Mastering Your Day”, because for so long I felt like I was a slave to the tasks of the day. I don’t feel like that anymore. As I’ve worked on finding a schedule that works for me, I’ve been so blessed to be surrounded by amazing people from whom I’ve gleaned little ideas and practices along the way, which I am so grateful for. However, I think it’s important to say that each one of them do life in a different way, and still each are tremendously successful. I love that! So before I say what I’ve done to master my day, I hope you remember two things. One, this is a personal thing, and you can receive help from the Lord! If mastering your day is something you really want to do, make it a matter of prayer and study, then go to work. Two, there is a time and season for everything! I am 19 weeks pregnant with my 4th little miracle, and holy cow. This pregnancy has been HARD. I have pretty much fallen off all wagons, but that’s ok. I lived this little routine that I will share with you for two years before I got pregnant, so I know that I will get back to it. But for now I am just doing my best. And that is enough. And please, please please…add to this discussion, I would love to hear what’s worked/working for you! That is how we all learn. This is post has NOT been easy for me, opening up about my daily tasks feels silly…but I am so grateful for those who were vulnerable with me and shared their little tips and tricks, and have changed my life because of it. So please comment, or feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram @kimberlynstoddard if you would like to chat further about it or need clarification on this post. And just so you get a little idea of what life at home is like…we live in South Eastern Idaho. We have three kids (3,6,8) and one on the way. (And you can read a little more about us in my bio on The Small Seed Website here!).
What does a typical day look like for you?
I usually wake up sometime before 6:00. If I have a lot to get done that day it’s more like 5:15, if it’s a normal day it’s 6:00.
When do you have your scripture study and how do you make sure it gets done?
I have my scripture study first thing in the morning. It took me a while to buck-up and realize that was the only way I was going to be consistent, and have the type of quality study that I wanted. I tried the end of the day for a long time, but it wasn’t working because I was usually too tired and easily interrupted. I tried nap time, but again I was too easily interrupted and my mind was often thinking about other things. So for me it has to be mornings. It was hard to transition to mornings, I was still tired and it was difficult for my mind to focus and think deeply. I decided to mix exercise and scripture study. My body was already used to waking up early to get moving, so I got a little board to go over my spin bike, and use that to study my scriptures. It helped me get out of bed, focus my mind, and not feel groggy. It’s not an intense ride at all, just enough to get my blood pumping a little bit while I read. It totally works for me! I read for 20-30 minutes, and then I get on with my 30 minute more intense workout.
What do you do to handle a particularly stressful day?
I give myself grace. I get stressed when I expect too much of one day, or from myself. When I get stressed out with a demanding day, I just make sure I am being realistic with the expectations I am placing on myself, and also the expectations I THINK people have on me. I go through my task list and if there is anything that can be done tomorrow, it gets moved. If there is anything that can be delegated, I give it away.
What are your daily essentials? (The few things you feel you need each day in order to function.)
Exercise (4-5 times a week)
What is the most important part of your day as an individual?
I would have to say prayer. For a lot of reasons. Most importantly because it keeps me connected to something greater than myself and helps me remember why I’m here and what my purpose is.
What is the most important part of your day as a family?
Probably meal-time, or scripture study. It’s the time that we get to put away all distractions and focus on each other.
How do you go about keeping your house clean?
I put my “magical morning” hours to good use. I have a morning routine that I try to get done every day by 10:30. My kids also have things they need to get done during that time as well, so we are all working together. The kids’ jobs don’t take long, so after they are finished they have free time to play whatever games (legos, special dolls, playdough…). This is perfect for us because they are busy getting their morning things done, and so am I. Then at 10:30 (even if I’m not finished) the kids know that I am theirs! We can go to the library, play games, read books, do science projects, or just hang out. This has been a game changer because I used to clean throughout the day. I would get interrupted frequently and the tasks never seem to get done unless I ignored the kids. This system works so well for me because I don’t feel stressed out to finish every task, every day. If I don’t get to something, it’s on the top of my list tomorrow, and I don’t stress, and I am much more “present” with my family.
My morning essentials consist of…
Dishes (putting the clean dishes away and cleaning breakfast dishes)
Mop or vacuum (I alternate days)
Put 1 load of laundry away and 1 in the wash
Wipe counters (kitchen and bathrooms)
Get ready (which really just means I would feel presentable if someone dropped by)
If I get these things done, I feel like I am put together.
I also have different days for deep cleaning. The deep cleaning takes place after I get the essentials done…or during the space I cut out for it during the day.
Tuesday: Living Room & Laundry Room
Saturday: Storage (winter), Outside (summer)
If I don’t get to these I don’t stress, because I know I will most likely get to them the next week.
Another thing that makes my morning routine run smoothly is having a little night routine as well. This consists of:
Load dishes and wipe counters
Tidy front room (The kids’ job, since it’s usually their toys that need to be put away)
Fold laundry (this is always the most difficult for me to get done! I DON’T like laundry. I usually listen to audiobooks or podcasts...I'm a huge audiobook junkie...it makes these tasks so much more bearable.)
How do you make sure God is at the focus?
I have to tell you about my adopted Grandma. There would be times where I would hear her talking in the kitchen, but we knew nobody was in there with her. She was always talking to God. She would talk to him out loud all day, like a best friend. I want to be like her, to have that type of relationship with God. I don’t remember when I started to do this, but I created check points throughout my day, to make sure I was thinking about God. One was the kitchen sink, and one was my car. I have a quote or scripture there that I recite, or ponder, or simply just say a prayer. It helps to keep me focused.
How do you keep a strong relationship with your spouse?
My husband Jason is really the one that should be answering this question, he is awesome. Sometimes I get too into my “routine” at night and don’t take time to just chill. He is the one that makes sure we get enough time to unwind together on the evenings we are both home. On the evenings that we aren’t, we try to make sure to connect throughout the day via phone calls. Evenings (before bed) is also when we do couple scripture study (sometimes I am folding while he reads). We aren’t as consistent in this like we are with family study, but I feel like it is such a blessing when we do make time for it. I love learning from him and sharing my own insights. Another thing we always try to do is kiss before he or I leave and when he or I get home. It’s the little things - am I right?
How do you facilitate regular discussions of Christ in your home?
Family scripture study is essential for this. We read to our children each night from the Gospel Stories (illustrated Scripture Stories). It’s perfect for our younger children because they can see the pictures and it is easier for them to be engaged. Our daughter Kallie is 8 and wants to read from the regular set of scriptures, so we read with her in the mornings while she is eating breakfast (although she is also with us at night when we read from the stories).
My husband also came up with an awesome idea. We have a jar that sits in our kitchen. Inside there are strips of paper with simple gospel topics like: Baptism, Faith, Repentance, Charity, Jesus Christ, The Holy Ghost, Peter, John the Baptist…. Then we discuss what we know about the topic. We start from youngest to oldest, each adding what they know to the topic. Sometimes this leads to looking up more on the subject, but often it leads to other discussions and topics, which is just fine too!
How do you hold yourself accountable to God?
Write promptings down!! When I have a plan or prompting or something I want to learn about or implement in my life, I MUST write it down. Otherwise it will be forgotten 90% of the time. I have a tab in my planner and an Evernote folder on my phone that is dedicated to this. I won’t go into the working of my planner because that might be a little too much for this post, but I review it each night and whatever I wrote down on that tab for that day I pray about. Talking with God about the inspiration and ideas He has given me helps to keep me accountable. And those items don’t come off my tab until they are accomplished, or I feel like I’ve learned what I needed.
How do you balance all of your roles?
I focus on what I feel is the most important role in my life, to be a disciple of Christ. If I am making this the top priority, all other roles naturally fall into place.
When Jason and I were first married we decided to choose a scripture for what we wanted our home to be like. We chose Doctrine and Covenants (a book of scripture in my faith) Sections 118-120, part of which says,
Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.
Our house does not reflect this scripture at all times and in all things. Not even close. However, with this as our goal, we have seen glimpses of this house of God…and it is so beautiful…and so worth it! These small little practices have helped me and my family get closer to our goal, and I hope they can be of some help to you.
I’m excited to hear what works for you. You can do this! Even amidst the laundry, dirty dishes, chaotic schedule, and messy life, I try to remember my little Kallie’s favorite scripture “with God all things are possible...”.