When my oldest son was in kindergarten, I volunteered to be the class mom.
I was a stay-at-home mom at the time and although I was never really crafty and didn’t exactly relish being in leadership positions, I felt it was what I should do.
Afterall, I had chosen to leave my career to be home with my kids, so wasn’t this how I should spend my time? Plus, no one else had stepped up for the role and so with a bit of hesitation, I ended up throwing my hat in the ring.
What I recall from the experience was that I frequently found myself chasing down other parents in the school yard to collect money for class supplies, sending out email after email to coordinate who would contribute what for class parties, and attending field trips and other class mom related obligations.
You could say I didn’t exactly relish my experience as class mom that year.
Honestly, I found it to be quite a nuisance, especially with a baby to care for at home (my younger son was only 1 years old at the time). By the end of the school year, I resented that I’d stepped up for this role in the first place.
But in retrospect, I learned a valuable lesson…
I had volunteered my time to be class mom because I had felt that I should, not because I necessarily wanted to, and the experience just reinforced what I already knew –
Although I wanted to be involved in my son’s school experience, volunteering for a role like class mom was just not my thing. I wanted to be involved….just not in that way or to that level.
In the years since, I have certainly volunteered my time for school events periodically because being present and showing interest in my children’s lives is important to me, as is being involved in their education. Also, I know it makes my kids happy and they feel extra special when mommy shows up during the school day 😉.
However, I now know that a role like class mom or other leadership roles within the PTA are simply not for me so I don’t say ‘yes’ to them anymore….and I don’t feel bad about it.
I also believe that there are others who truly do find it rewarding to volunteer in the schools and I give major kudos and gratitude to those parents in my community that give of their time in these roles, but that’s just not me and I’m ok with that.
Here’s the thing, when we say ‘yes’ to things because we think we should, we very often find ourselves resentful of our choices and in turn, we don’t bring our best energy to these situations.
At the end of the day, who is actually benefiting from that?
In the time since my experience as class mom, I’ve gotten more and more clarity on what’s actually most important to me in life – which I’ve come to understand as my core values – and have learned to use these as a lens for my decision-making.
This has helped me to be intentional with my time and understand WHY I’m saying ‘yes’ (or ‘no’) and feel good about my choices.
It’s also resulted in less overwhelm coming from all the things I think I should be doing, as I’ve gotten better at prioritizing the few things that matter most to me — and letting the rest fall to the side, guilt-free.
What are core values?
I think of values as your personal judgment of what’s important in your life. Yours might include principles like authenticity, balance, inner peace, stability, or adventure.
Your core values are the select few that are most important to you. That doesn’t mean you don’t value other things, but the 3-5 most important values at the top of your list are what we refer to as your core values.
Gaining clarity on core values is helpful as you can use them as a lens through which you make decisions, helping you better manage what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to.
You’ll be amazed at how much you’re able to shave off of that to-do list and how much more in control of it you feel!
Why is it important to know your core values?
1. Knowing your values allows you to prioritize what’s most important
When you know exactly what you value, you’re able to prioritize the few things that matter most to you and let the rest slip away, guilt-free.
This is a beautiful thing, especially if you tend to be overwhelmed by everything on your plate!
2. Knowing your values aids your decision-making
- Should you sign your kids up for tons of extracurriculars or are you ok with lots of free time after school?
- Should you volunteer for that big project at work? The one that will require lots of late nights?
- Should you homeschool your kids?
- Should you spend the money on a one-week extravagant family vacation or send your kids to summer camp all summer long?
Knowing your personal values will help you answer every one of these questions and many more. They become a filter through which you run all of your life decisions.
3. Knowing your values and honoring them brings peace of mind
When you know your values and honor them in the way you live your life, it feels good. You feel at peace in knowing you’re living your life in a way that’s true to you.
How do you figure out what your core values are?
Sometimes it’s not easy to know what you truly value but if you think about it, clues to what you value are woven throughout your life.
Think back on your life thus far and reflect on these questions –
Why do you do the things you do? Why do they matter to you? What is at the heart of it all?
There are usually some overarching themes and they can help you determine your core values. Here are some other things to keep in mind when trying to figure out your core values.
Quiet the “shoulds”
It’s often incredibly hard for us to delineate between what we really value and what we think we should value.
We are constantly being bombarded by other people, the news, social media, and advertisements telling us what we should like, what we should wear, what we should look like, what we should care about, and what we should do with our lives.
Push past the “shoulds” to get to what you truly care about, who you really are, and what brings you true happiness and contentment in your life.
Listen to the voice inside
We all have a little voice deep inside of us, a voice that knows us better than anyone else.
Whatever you choose to call it – your gut, intuition, highest self, soul, the universe, or God – isn’t as important as learning to hear it.
Practice listening to the voice inside, knowing it will also guide you towards your values.
Know your values may change over time
If you’re hesitating to pin down your core values because it feels like a big commitment, consider that they can and may change over time.
That’s because as humans, we are constantly evolving and growing and with that, our values may change and evolve with us.
Take the pressure off and know that you don’t have to carve your core values in stone. Simply understand what they are today and let them guide you and be a filter through which you run all of your decisions.
The Best Way to Get Control Over Your To-Do List
As you can see, the best way to get control over your to-do list is to know exactly what you value most.
With this clear understanding of your core values, you will no longer continue down the path of making decisions that are often out of alignment with what truly matters to you and struggling to prioritize because everything seems important.
Defining your core values is a foundational part of my 1:1 coaching program. If you’d like to learn more about how I can support you in this, click here or schedule a free call with me today!
Carly is a wife, mom, and former NYC fashion industry executive turned writer and life coach. Through her writings on littlevoicebigmatter.com, she shares practical advice, heartfelt insights, and actionable resources to inspire and support women in motherhood, relationships, wellness, and life. Carly also helps women create better balance in their lives and live with more joy, purpose, and connection every day through her coaching.