Putting Essentialism Into Practice (Mom On Purpose, Day 2)

Putting Essentialism Into Practice // Mom on Purpose, Day 2 // jessconnell.com

First I asked myself, What is the most essential thing for me to be doing right now?

Then I reminded myself of the reasons why I want to DO those essential things.

I’m not under the illusions that mere DOING is going to change my heart, my home, or my family. So I wanted to remind myself of the big picture before diving in to do the daily things.

Today, it was a morning of living according to our priorities. Here’s a rundown of how my morning went, as best I can recall:

  1. First, I nursed the baby. Bleary-eyed, I pulled the travel pillow around my neck and caught a few more minutes of delightful snoozy haziness as he nursed and I tried to wake up.
  2. Then I got dressed and came downstairs, and started reading my Bible, starting in the last place I’d stopped.
  3. That was interrupted by a child who needed to use my Bible (since it’s an ESV & I ask them to do copywork from the ESV but she doesn’t yet own her own ESV) to do her copywork for school.
  4. I read aloud to our 4 year old while I waited for the 8 year old to be done with my Bible.
  5. I got some coffee and tickled and giggled with the 2 year old on the stairs on my way back to the living room.
  6. My mom called at 8am to start our new Monday-morning-weekly-call-routine because my life has gotten so busy that otherwise weeks can go by and I haven’t talked to my mom… so I talked to her for something more like 45 minutes. While doing that, I tidied up the bookshelves in our library which were in a sad state. By the time our conversation was over, the bookshelves looked neat. (We picked this time b/c Mondays are typically my husband’s day off since he’s a pastor and counsels with people on Saturdays and serves and teaches and holds meetings, etc., on Sundays).
  7. The kids did school and I ran interference (answering questions, etc.) and studied a little more in the Bible. It felt really great to do this at the FIRST available opportunity. It had been getting sidelined to “whenever I got around to it” (which, sadly, was sometimes never).
  8. After we finished school, the kids finished chores while I nursed the baby and got dinner in the crockpot.
  9. We ate lunch and headed out for a lengthy bike ride around town. (Have you ogled and gawked at my new bike yet? I’m loving it!!)
  10. We came home for naps and quiet afternoon time, which allowed me enough time to write this.

This is a short post, but it’s based on the MAIN QUESTION, and the 12 PRINCIPLES we thought about first.

  • In each moment, I was trying to do the essential things. First, my growth as a disciple, then the things my husband and I have prioritized for our home, for this season.
  • I didn’t try to “do it all.” I just focused on doing the next thing.

OR, put simply, I followed this basic idea:



I wasn’t trying to “do it all.”

I wasn’t trying to do it all in one moment.

But over the course of the day, our priorities, for the most part, got accomplished. 

And the things that didn’t? Well, we’ll talk about that next. 


How can you implement this idea of “doing the next essential thing” in your home & daily routines?

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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4 Responses

  1. Stephanie says:

    One thing that helps me to focus on the essentials is to keep a running list of what I need/ want to get done. BUT I must remember that everything on the list will not get done. The list helps keep me on track for my priorities for the day and helps me see that at the end of the day I really did get things accomplished. I am a person who likes rigid schedules but I am realizing with a larger family and a new baby, flexibility is necessary too.

  2. Miranda says:

    So what if there are several things that seem “essential”? I know I’m off track a bit here because essential implies one thing, but I have a hard time not feeling like a chicken with it’s head cut off most days. For example I am trying to get dinner in the crockpot going but my toddler needs correction, laundry is mounting and two of my big kids have a question/need with schoolwork right then…these all seem “urgent”. I definitely know my days will be full of multi tasking but how am I sure the essentials are being done when many things seem essential? Hope that makes sense. I most definitely “do the NEXT big (aiming for essential here) thing” but I always feel like I’m doing so many things at once it’s hard to feel focused. Again, I am hoping that makes sense :) What is your thought process with choosing what needs to be done vs what could be done? And thanks for sharing all this – it’s been good.

    • Jess Connell says:

      When I thought about your question, I had a few perhaps guiding principles come to mind, to think through things like this–

      (1) What is eternal? — so in your situation, the toddler needs correction. That’s first. Because your child (especially one with a short attention span, and thus, a need for discipline/correction to follow close behind the offense) needs correction so that he can learn (at his toddler level) to value wisdom and recognize foolishness.

      (2) What is immediately necessary? And how fast can I accomplish each task in relation to the demands of the others? — so then, at this point for me, it would be a question of weighing these concerns– Is it a quick math question for clarification, or a need for a longer conversation? Is the crock-pot dinner immediate in such a way that if I don’t get it in right now it truly won’t be ready within the 30-minute dinner window I’m shooting for, or could I put it off in order to give feedback about the essay? Etc. The other two concerns (dinner and schoolwork) are important, so it would just be weighing which order to do those in.

      Eternal things before temporal.
      Character things before cleanliness/chores/etc.

      And then according to the principles you and your husband decide. (For example, your husband might really balk if dinner’s not ready by 6:00 but not have a problem with the kids still working on math work through the evening. OR, he could see it the opposite– “I don’t care if dinner’s late so long as we all get to sit down and enjoy the evening together.”)

      Urgent doesn’t equal essential.
      Urgent doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the top priority at that moment.

      Eternal & heart things first. People first.
      Temporal things & tasks behind that.

      Those are my general thoughts on that. I wonder if anyone else reading would weigh in?

  1. May 29, 2015

    […] First, I asked myself the main question of essentialism. Two days ago, I got clear on the principles of what’s essential for me right now. And then yesterday I put essentialism into practice. […]

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