Motivation, Raising Happy Kids

The Power of Setting Goals for Your Kids

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Do you ever feel like there’s too much too do, and not enough time to do it? Do you feel like life is dragging you along and you can barely keep up with the daily activities? Is parenting more stressful than you ever imagined it would be?

If you answered yes, to any of these questions, I know exactly how you feel.

This is exactly how I felt before I started using goals to take control of my life. Looking back now, it’s crazy to see how much things have changed!

I never dreamed that the simple act of setting and sticking to daily goals could have such an impact.

Just to give you a clear picture of the extreme differences, let me explain life before and after we started setting strict goals in our home.

goals for kids

A Typical Day Without Goals

After my fourth son was born, life got pretty overwhelming. I felt like I had no control over my home. Every day I barely managed to keep up with everything.

A typical day went like this. I woke up tired and exhausted, late again, and scrambled to get all the kids ready to go.

The kids cried that they were tired while I raced through to get everyone ready in time so maybe we’d only be 30-40 minutes late.

Some days we didn’t get a chance to eat breakfast at home so the kids ate at the babysitter’s house.

When all the coats and shoes were on, the kids piled in the van and I dropped them off at school and daycare then went to work.

At work, I was tired and exhausted. I struggled to keep up with everything and to stay awake throughout the day until it was time to leave.

Once daycare hours were almost over, I left work and picked everyone up.

We got home and made dinner and it usually took 2-3 hours to get the food made and everybody fed.

The first hour was spent preparing the meal, the next 1-2 were spent feeding the kids.

I don’t know about your kids, but my kids take a LONG time to eat their food. They spent half the meal playing and talking, getting down from their chairs, or doing anything besides eating.

If I even dared to put vegetables or anything questionable on their plate the tears/complaining started up immediately.

“I don’t want that mom! I don’t like it!”  were common complaints.

Most days, I didn’t bother with the vegetables because it was too overwhelming.

When everybody finally finished their dinner, I would wash the dishes then turn on a movie or T.V. show.

It was usually the kid’s bedtime by then, but I needed to relax ok! It’d been a long stressful day and I didn’t have the energy to worry about bedtime or any of the other daily household chores we hadn’t done all week.

The kids and I would watch a show (or two, ok sometimes three) then we’d tiredly stumble off to bed.

The following morning we did it all over again.

It was EXHAUSTING! To say the least!

I Felt Like I was Failing as a Mother

There were so many things I wanted to teach my kids but, with our busy schedule, it felt impossible!

My third son was old enough that he should have been getting himself dressed every morning. He should have been feeding himself.

It sure would have made things less stressful if I didn’t have to do everything for him and the baby, but I didn’t have time to teach him.

The same could be said for each of my boys.

My baby was several months old and couldn’t even hold his bottle or sit up on his own.

It took so much time to take care of the little things that all four of them should have been doing on their own but I was doing instead because I felt like I didn’t have time to teach them.

For each of my boys, I had a list of at least a dozen things I needed to work on with them. It was too overwhelming so I did what I usually do when I have a big list of things I need to get done. I didn’t do ANY of it!

How I Turned Things Around

In this state, I had no motivation to do anything. I didn’t even know where to start.

Just to raise my spirits and cheer me up, I started listening to one of my favorite motivational speakers Zig Ziglar.

I listened to his speeches for weeks and I noticed my perspective started to change.

Zig talks a lot about the importance of approaching life with a positive attitude and the more I listened to him, the more positive my attitude became.

I started to listen to Jim Rohn and, if you’ve never heard one of his speeches, one thing he firmly stresses is that to have any success in life, you must have GOALS!

He often gave the famous quote of, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail, there’s no other option!” You won’t be successful by accident.

Jim frequently states that most people go through life with their fingers crossed hoping things will get better. (I can relate! This is what we were doing in my home)

This will never work. You can’t keep doing the things that got you to where you are right now and expect it to take you somewhere great. It just doesn’t happen.

To turn things around, you must do things differently than you’ve done them in the past. You can change all at once, or just focus on one thing at a time.

It’s ok if it takes awhile to get to where you want to be, as long as each day brings you closer to your goal.

how to set goals for your kids

Start Small, Focus on One Thing At a Time

One thing that frequently tripped me up in the past was, I tried to do way too much at once. There really was not enough time in the day for one person to do all the things I wanted to do.

With Jim’s advice, I decided I would focus on one thing at a time for each of my kids.

Instead of taking my third son and saying, ok you’re going to learn to dress yourself, put your shoes on, feed yourself, and eat your food in a reasonable amount of time all at once, I picked the one thing that frustrated me the most and we focused on that.

We didn’t worry at all about any of the other things I felt like he should be doing.

I did the same thing for everyone one of my boys. I told them, ok this week your goal is to do this one thing.

The first week, the three older boys all had a goal to finish their meals in a certain amount of time. I felt like, if I could cut at least 1 hour off of dinner we’d have time for so much more!

Each day my kids met their goal, I rewarded them with tickets. By the end of the week, if they had enough tickets, they could buy a prize.

My kids loved it! The tickets got them excited about meeting their goals. Within two weeks, my older boys were finishing their meals quicker than they ever had before. My third was still taking a while but there was an obvious improvement!

Even a Little Baby Can Have Goals

In the beginning, I didn’t give my baby goals. How can a baby have goals if they don’t know what a goal is?

After seeing the dramatic improvement in my other kids though, I decided I would try giving him goals as well.

Just six weeks after I started setting goals for him, he learned to hold his bottle by himself, sit up, and he started crawling. It was an army crawl/scoot but he was getting around when less than a month before he couldn’t even sit up on his own!

I couldn’t believe it.

To help him meet his goals, I would take a couple minutes every day to work with him and help with whatever we were focusing on.

As I helped him, I talked to him and told him, “This week your goal is to hold your bottle by yourself and you’re doing so good!”

By the time he was nine months old, my baby was pushing things in front of him to walk.

He couldn’t walk on his own, but he could take just about anything in my home and walk with it. None of my other kids had even started trying to walk until they were one.

All it took was a couple minutes a day and a focused goal.

A Typical Day with Goals

If I haven’t convinced you yet to start setting goals for your kids, let me tell you what my typical day looks like now when we stick to our goals.

I wake up an hour and a half earlier than my kids.

The first hour is spent exercising and planning my goals for the day. I go over everything I want to accomplish in my mind and remind myself of the goals I’m working towards.

After my workout, I spend half an hour showering and getting ready for the day.

By this time, it’s time for my kids to get up so I wake them up. I greet every one of them with a smile and a hug then pull my youngest son out of his crib and start getting him ready.

None of the kids cry that they’re tired because they went to bed between 8:00-8:30 the night before. They got plenty of sleep.

As my kids get ready, I ask each of them what their goal for today is. What are they focusing on? This keeps them goal oriented and reminds them what we’re working towards.

Before my baby is ready to go, my two oldest are dressed and their bed is made. No clothes are left on the floor.

My third, who is two, still takes a little bit longer, but he dresses himself. I don’t have to do anything for him.

Within 10-15 minutes we’re sitting at the table, ready to eat breakfast.

I feed my baby as I eat and my other three boys eat their breakfast.

The two oldest finish their breakfast first and have time to brush their teeth, comb their hair, and put their shoes and coats on so we can leave.

I finish feeding my baby while my two year old finishes his food. When we’re both done, I put the babies shoes and coat on while my two year old puts his on.

We say a prayer as a family and, within thirty minutes of waking up, all four kids are dressed, fed, and ready to go. Even I’m dressed, fed, and ready for work. (No more skipping breakfast for me!)

I drop my boys off at daycare and get to work an hour earlier than I’m scheduled.

The day is really productive because I know exactly what I’m going to focus on. I know what my goals for the day are and what I want to accomplish before I leave.

I’m happier than I’ve ever been.

When it’s time to pick up the kids, I leave work and get them from daycare.

I make dinner from a pre-planned menu and often have half the meal prepped from the day before.

Depending on what we’re eating, it still takes 30-50 minutes to prepare the meal but it always includes vegetables for my kids to eat.

As I give my kids their food, there is no complaining. Nobody cries that they don’t like their vegetables or the food we’re eating.

It’s the opposite. My boys actually tell me how much they love their vegetables and they often ask for more.

It still boggles my mind that the same kids wouldn’t eat any of the food on their plate just a couple months before without crying and complaining.

In half an hour everybody is done and we spend another half hour doing our daily chores.

Once they’re done, we have an hour of free time to do whatever we want.

Sometimes we have a family meeting to discuss our goals, sometimes we have game night, sometimes we focus on our home cleaning goal for the week, other times my kids spend it on whatever they want to do. Whatever it is, we have an hour to do it before it’s time to get ready for bed.

Half an hour before bedtime, we clean up all the activities and start getting ready for bed.

The kids put their pajamas on and meet me at our checklist center so we can see how we did for the day.

We review the kid’s goals, our family goals, our daily checklists, and everybody who met them earns tickets.

If anybody lost tickets that day, they give them to me at that time.

My boys excitedly count their tickets afterward to see how close they are to having enough for whatever they’re working towards.

We put everything away again and say family prayer. After prayer, we sing a song together and each of the kids lies in their own bed and I kiss them good night.

We get to bed on time and I have a feeling of calmness and accomplishment.

Goals are Life Changing, They Give You Purpose

Having goals that you review and work towards every single day gives you a purpose. 

Looking at life before we had our goals compared to how things are now, it’s so much easier to have goals than to not have any.

I’m not saying it’s not hard because, yes it is! It takes more discipline than I ever knew I had. However, the rewards and benefits in the end are well worth every effort you put into them.

A great saying that sums it up is, “Good habits are hard to develop but easy to live with while bad habits are easy to develop but so hard to live with.” 

Having goals that you focus on every single day until you’ve achieved is really just a habit you need to develop.

Do you have anything you’ve been wanting to teach your kids but you’ve never had time?

Pick just one thing to focus on and work with him/her until they’ve learned it. It’s ok if you fall short and don’t get to it every day. No matter how long it takes, just keep coming back to it and you will get there!

You’ll be amazed at how much you really can do!


Do you use goals in your family? Are you feeling overwhelmed in raising your kids? Do you have questions for me?

Let me know by leaving a comment below! I do answer all of them 🙂

-Julie

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6 thoughts on “The Power of Setting Goals for Your Kids

  1. Wow that was inspiring! I always know goals and schedules improve your lifestyle but this really struck me though. We really have to work on our morning routine.
    How did you teach your 2 year old son to dress himself? I have a 2.5 year old and a 13 month old and my oldest really needs to learn how to dress himself.

    1. Thank you! The difference our goals have made and continue to make in our home is amazing! It’s not easy to stick to them (we’ve fallen short too many times to count) but we always come back to them. Life is so much more enjoyable and stress-free when we include them every day.
      To teach my son to dress himself, I’d grab his clothes in the morning, change him, then start by giving him his pants to put on. I’d work with him and show him how to straighten the pants before he tried to put them on, then I’d have him sit down and show him how to put each leg in. For a while, he couldn’t figure out how to get them straight by himself and often put both legs in one side of the pants. It didn’t take long though before he got it!
      I did the same with his shirts and just worked with him every morning to show him the right way to get his clothes on.
      When he got frustrated and said he couldn’t do it, I’d encourage him and praise him every time he was able to do any of it himself. He started getting really excited about being big enough to dress himself and he loved the small rewards he got after if he was able to do it himself 🙂

      As an added bonus, by the time we started potty training him when he was almost two and a half he’d been dressing himself for months and it made things so much easier!

      The more your kids can do for themselves the less stressful things are.
      -Julie

  2. I never considered giving my kids goals like that. I’ve set them for myself several times and struggled to meet them but I’ve found a few things that have helped. It makes sense to start giving them goals when they’re young instead of waiting until they’re older to figure it out themselves!

    1. It really is amazing how much of a difference it makes! Even the difference I saw in my six month old was so much more than I ever thought it could be. I’ve also found it’s easier to teach kids things like this when they’re young and haven’t yet developed a lot of habits.
      -Julie

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    Would you offer guest writers to write content for you?
    I wouldn’t mind producing a post or elaborating on many of the subjects you write related to here.
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