A few months ago I was in a rough spot. I had spent the day snapping at my kids and when my husband came home from work I spent the evening unloading all of my complaints on him. I was completely stressed out and nothing was coming together. He patiently listened to my long list of troubles and then gently said, "It sounds like your Ps are out of order."
I took a step back.
How could I not see it?
I had been raving about The Five Ps from A Mother's Rule of Life to all of my friends for the last few years but somehow I had let mine get out of order.
I had first heard about A Mother's Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot when I had three kids ages 3 and under. She wrote the book because she felt like she had three full time jobs: her mothering, her housework, and homeschooling.
Her daily duties were consuming her time and she felt like she didn't have any time for herself or to pray.
Pierlot said, "One evening I realized that I had to apply myself to my vocation - that it was a calling from God, a job, and that he wanted me to devote my attention to this job to the best of my abilities with the same attention and care and solicitude that a CEO ran a company."
Holly Pierlot decided to adopt a Rule of Life based on the Five Ps (or priorities) of the married vocation. Her book outlines exactly how to do this, but I'll keep my own summary short and sweet.
There are five priorities of a married woman that will bring balance to a chaotic life if they are followed in the correct order.
What are the Five Ps?
2. Person (Self)
If I place more emphasiss on my relationship with my children than my relationship with my husband, my marriage becomes tense.
If I attempt to take on my role as provider without first taking care of myself, I am depleted and have no energy to take care of my family or my home.
If I attempt to start my day without prayer and guidance, I am flying by the seat of my pants and get frustrated when there isn't a clear sense of where I'm going.
There will be instances when a child is sick and that becomes my number one priority. This is an exception and it resolves itself quickly. It's when the priorities get out of balance for an extended period of time that life becomes stressful and difficult to manage.
Let's dive a little deeper into each priority.
As a mother, my top priority should be my spiritual growth. When I jump out of bed in the morning and dive into the day according to my own agenda it is easy to become frustrated. But if I begin my day communicating with God, He allows me to see areas where I need growth and He gives me grace to tackle the challenging things that come my way.
I can't expect to form the souls in my care if I'm not practicing the virtues myself.
Bumping this priority up to the number 2 spot was a game changer for me. I spent the first three years of motherhood putting myself last. I was a little confused about the giving of self in the vocation of motherhood and thought it meant to devote all of my time and energy to my family.
I was burned out.
I eventually came to the humble realization that if I didn't take care of the physical needs of my body and the spiritual needs of my soul, I wasn't taking care of anyone well. I was exhausted, addicted to caffeine, and was walking around with brain fog. No one had my real attention or affection.
Taking care of yourself looks different for everyone. It includes everything from eating to sleeping.
For me, I have to take care of my physical body and stimulate my mind every day.
Sugar gives me anxiety and causes me to be short tempered. When I eat well, I can think clearly and have enough energy to keep up with my little boys until bedtime. Exercise gives me energy and a clear head.
I set aside 30 minutes every day to read something new. Reading has always been my happy place. It keeps my mind stimulated and fills my cup.
Taking care of myself also includes self-awareness and emotional healing. I can't be vulnerable and truly intimate with family and friends if I have protective walls set up so I am working on digging deep and seeking healing.
Little kids are exhausting. Throw in some postpartum hormones and the best way I can explain some days is that I just felt like a walking blob in those early years of motherhood. When I read about the Five Ps I felt really convicted about where my husband was on my priority list at the time.
Pierlot says, "God had given me a job to do, as a wife. Love was something I was supposed to concern myself with giving, not receiving; giving to my husband the gift of myself; the gift of my time, my support, my presence, my entire PERSON."
I love Ryan.
I loved him first.
It is because of our love for each other that we have our children. When I started implementing the Five Ps I was so emotionally exhausted that I wasn't giving my husband the full attention that he deserved. When I changed things around and put my spiritual and physical needs first, my marriage started to flourish!
We like to have 2-3 date nights at home a week. We aren't fancy. We make a bowl of popcorn and sit on the couch and talk. It's a genuine check-in of how we are doing individually and we can gauge how to help each other throughout the week.
Even though a good part of my day is spent parenting, being a parent is my fourth priority. If my prayer isn't in order, my person isn't in order. If my person isn't in order, my marriage won't be in order. If my marriage isn't in order, I certainly won't be able to parent well.
I am constantly evaluating to see how available I am to my children. Do they have my full attention when they need it? Am I meeting their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs? Am I loving them in the way they need to feel loved?
I loved this quote from Holly Pierlot, "This mission meant that I was called to raise my children actively, not merely to watch them like a nanny. Who else was going to teach them all they needed to know in this life? Who else was going to lead them to God if Philip and I didn't do it? Together with my husband, I was the formative influence in my children's lives. I was the one who was called to mold and form them and prepare them for this world and the next. I was the primary educator of my children. This was a privelage I would never again undervalue."
When I tell people that this is the last priority, I'm often met with a raised eyebrow. Being a provider includes going to work, budgeting, taking care of the home, grocery shopping, scheduling appointments, and doing ALL of the things that take up most of our time throughout the day.
But being a provider shouldn't take so much of our mental capacity that we have nothing left to give to our families.
I sit with this priority often and set attainable goals. I want my home to be a place where peace and love abide. I want my business to flourish with empowered women. I want to create systems and organizational tools for my family so we can spend more quality time together and less time tidying.
Even though a good part of my day is filled with scheduling, meal planning, cleaning, and answering emails, I can't let my to-do list be the thief of my joy. So I don't.
When my Ps are in order, my life is in order.