Thursday, September 22, 2011

How a 17-Year-Old "Planner Girl" Hopes to Empower Mothers

When I was 17, my planner and I were inseparable.  I carried it around my high school, clutching it safely to my left side--always ready to add a drama rehearsal to my calendar or a chemistry assignment my daily checklist.  Some people called me the "planner girl," and I considered that a huge compliment.

Twice, I skipped school to attend FranklinCovey seminars, where I sat in the front row and studiously took notes on how to get the most out of my daily planning sessions.  Sometimes it felt a little odd to be in large conference rooms with mainly corporate executives, but whenever I could spend time discussing time management, calendaring, vision statements, and goal-setting, I was in my element.

At one of the FranklinCovey seminars, I met Anthony Robbins.  I'd listened to his cassette tapes about "Awakening the Giant Within," and I was so excited to take my picture with him.  Do I look a little star struck?

Anthony Robbins and April Perry, FranklinCovey Seminar 1996
Fast-forward 16 years: My planner and I are still inseperable, but now that I'm a mother to four young children, life has taken on an entirely new rhythm.

Instead of sleeping in until 11 on Saturdays (yes, I'm embarrassed to admit that, but I did), I'm usually up before 6.   Instead of planning dance parties with friends or trying to figure out the best way to boost my college resume, I'm soaking rawhide in the backyard for my daughter's sixth grade project, changing the fifth load of laundry for the day, and trying to figure out who can pick up one child from scouts while another child needs to be at a music practice.

My task lists aren't centered on "me" anymore; it's my husband and family who are my top priorities.

Sometimes I miss the life of that girl in the photo.  Motherhood is so much harder than I thought it would be, but when I look at these faces and realize what part I play in giving them a great start in life, I know that there's nothing more important.

While my main mission in life is to care for my family, I also feel like I have a special assignment--to help mothers get organized.  

We surveyed over 200 mothers in our Power of Moms Community this week and asked them what is most stressful in their lives.  Their answers were achingly similar:
  • Never getting to do my projects because of the mess
  • Paperwork!  I can't keep up with it
  • My children!  Not enough time in the day
  • I feel overwhelmed by all the information and papers, and I don't know where to begin to tackle the mountain-load
  • Piles of stuff everywhere!
  • Feeling behind in everything
  • My depression and trying to raise a family
  • MESS.  I can't get ahead.  I am maintaining my mess!!!
  • All the papers that come home from school are overwhelming
  • Keeping my house clean and making time for fun
  • All of my different responsibilities--trying to keep them in balance is stressful
  • More tasks than time
  • Keeping up with daily tasks; not getting to the things that matter most 
  • Finances and credit card debt
  • Being sick and still being a mom
  • My child with special needs
  • Having too much on my plate; not meeting everyone's expectations
As I read these survey results, my heart could feel the pain that these good mothers are experiencing, and I could totally relate.  For many years, I felt so stressed about all of my family responsibilities.  I had some difficult (and very painful) health problems, I was up at least twice a night, and I would walk around my house thinking about how everyone and everything needed my attention at the same time.

But then I started reading . . . and reading . . . and applying what I read.  And now, while I still have a lot on my plate, I don't have the same stress.  I fall asleep easily, my house is in order, I don't have papers on my counter, and I feel like I can really be present with my children (even though tonight I'd completely "had it," and I kind of sent them to bed with a grumpy voice.  Just wanted to be honest).

The main way I'm teaching moms to get organized is through the Mind Organization for Moms program we offer at The Power of Moms, but if you'd like to see the "baby steps" version of the program, we've put it into a simple eBook and webinar, and we call it Five Steps to Less Stress.

Click here to register for our free Power of Moms Member Package, where you can download your complimentary copy of the Five Steps to Less Stress eBook.

Click here for the Five Steps to Less Stress Webinar (also totally free).

And if you find this helpful, please pass it on.  My main goal is to empower mothers and enable them to really enjoy their families by helping them to organize and prioritize.

You'll be helping to fulfill the dream of a 17-Year-Old Planner Girl.

Love,
April

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Our First Couples Retreat

It's been four days since I returned from the Couples Retreat in Park City, and while our house has been hopping with some home improvement, school projects, preparations for "picture day," and all kinds of messes and squabbles, I've been trying to think of a way to adequately sum up the experience.

Each Power of Moms Retreat I've attended has been magical to me.  I love meeting with deliberate mothers.  I love sitting in small groups and learning new ideas to make my family stronger.  I love having a little break from my daily routine (even though I always return home feeling totally exhausted!).

The real power of this Retreat, however, was seeing moms AND dads coming together to focus on their specific family needs. 



Where else do you see couples wrapped in conversation, talking excitedly about what their children and homes need in order to thrive?  After watching what was happening around me and feeling the incredible energy, I whispered to my husband, "I've never seen anything like this in my whole life."  He nodded in agreement. 

Just imagining how these parents are going to go home and apply their ideas hits me at the core.  I received an email this morning from a dad who attended the full Retreat, and he said this:

"Words cannot express the gratitude I feel for The Power of Moms.  Since my family has been involved with this organization, our focus and priorities have drastically changed."  

That made my day.

Here is a photo of Richard and Linda Eyre giving the opening Keynote address.  They are fabulous presenters, but more than that, they are fabulous parents.  As Saren was introducing them, she said that she could go on and on listing their accomplishments, but the main reason we wanted them to speak was because they walk the talk.  After beautifully raising nine children, and being totally deliberate in the process, they have learned a wealth of skills and knowledge that they are now passing on to those of us who are still "in the trenches."  (I'm reading their newest book, The Entitlement Trap, right now--and loving it!)


One of the most fun parts of the Retreat, for me, was getting a chance to present with my husband, Eric.  (Please pardon the blurry camera . . . I'm going to return it.) We led a morning discussion about Parenting Partnerships--creating a strong relationship from which you can build your family. 

We had so much fun working on this that we've decided to start recording more podcasts together (we've got this new idea called "Podcast Date Nights" that we'll be launching soon with our Power of Families website, so stay tuned . . .).  If you haven't listened to our first podcast, Expectations in Marriage, it's available at The Power of Moms and in our Power of Moms iTunes feed.


Here's a photo my husband snapped of Saren and her husband, Jared.  He is our website designer, and honestly, The Power of Moms would still be sitting inside a bunch of notebooks and Word docs if it weren't for him.  Eric and I consider these amazing people as two of our closest friends.


This is Saren, presenting Family Systems with her parents.  Saren is the mastermind behind these Retreats.  I still get stomachaches before each one, but she is a natural, and I feel privileged to get to work with her each day.  Have you seen all the cute videos she's been making for our new Deliberate Mothering series? Priceless.


Tiffany Sowby and her husband, Mike, also did an excellent job sharing some ideas about family traditions and economic principles that have worked in their family.  Tiffany was the Retreat Organizer for this Couples Retreat, and she is amazingly sharp.  Her blog is one of my favorites.


I had to snap a photo of this cute mom with her little sleeping baby:



And a couple more photos of my new, dear friends:



Mary Croxford and Megan Stewart are two of our Power of Moms Board members (a mother/daughter pair), and it was so fun to meet their husbands!


Koni Smith has been my friend via email for the past couple of years.  She answers all of the emails that come through the website, and we were so happy to get to have her at this Retreat.



And here's Linda, Saren, Me, and Tiffany at the close of the Retreat.



If you haven't had the chance to attend a Power of Moms Retreat, I do hope you'll consider coming to one in the future.  With our new Empower Program, we're doing everything we can to get the moms who really want and need this experience to have the opportunity.  We'll be in New Hampshire this October, Arizona in November, California in January, and Australia in March (I'm getting my passport in a couple of weeks!).

The best part, however, was coming home to my family--and seeing this taped to my desk:


That was from Grace.  I love my family. 

Love,
April

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Happy 4th Birthday to The Power of Moms

Saren and I haven't been tracking the history of our site very carefully, but I just found an email dated September 2, 2007 called "Power of Moms Launch," so this month, we are wishing The Power of Moms a very happy 4th birthday.  

This was my situation at the time of the launch:
  • eight months pregnant with my fourth child, Spencer (he came 10 days later)
  • had been working on this website for more than a year with some good friends who served on our initial board
  • scared to death to launch it because I didn't know if I could keep up with a monthly newsletter
  • decided I would just go ahead and take the plunge before I delivered my baby (because who knew when I would have arms free to work on the computer while caring for a newborn)
  • knew somewhere in my heart that this was the first step toward something monumental in my life
Saren and I teamed up just a few months after the site went live (she had a website of her own, which now serves as the basis of our Learning Circles and Retreats), so really, The Power of Moms has two birthdays, but If you're interested, here's what I sent to a small group of my friends at the first launch:


From:"April Perry" 
Sent:Sun 9/2/07  12:35 am
Subj:"Power of Moms" Launch

Hello, Fellow Mothers!


I am excited to announce that we have launched the website

http://www.powerofmoms.com/
.  This is an interactive website designed to connect
mothers and help them to teach, inspire, and encourage one another.  I
would love for you to be a part of it!

We are still in the process of adding more content and features to the

site, but the majority of it is up and running and ready for submissions!
On the site, you will find articles that focus on how moms can look at the
world optimistically (general and religious), journal entries that
highlight special mothering moments, book abstracts to help mothers select
the best books to read, and a forum titled "Moms' Perspectives."  We
also have a monthly challenge, a monthly value (linked with Richard and
Linda Eyre's Values Parenting website), and a yearly project.

Please forward this link on to anyone you think might enjoy visiting or

participating.  The whole point of the site is to strengthen mothers by
providing a way for us to teach and learn from each other.  I consider you
to be outstanding women, and I hope this is a site you will enjoy!

Love,


April


 
It's now been four whole years. (See my baby?)

 
Four years of work with women who are like sisters to me.  Four years of learning from other mothers who inspire me to be deliberate in how I raise my children.  Four years of doing "scary" things every day--and realizing that even though I'm not as smart as I need to be, those who work with us on the site, the community at The Power of Moms (and the Lord, of course) make up for where I lack.

I honestly didn't know where this was going to go (and if I had, I probably wouldn't have been brave enough to send out that initial email), but The Power of Moms has helped me to focus my time on the things that matter most, and if you haven't joined yet (it's free!), we have a great Member Package ready for you (and an exciting Couples Retreat in Park City this weekend). 

Such a fun way to celebrate a birthday!
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