Let’s talk about state of mind. You have about 50 things to do today, right? 50 things to do, and time and energy for maybe 40 of them. Even when you multi-task, it is almost impossible to get things done, so you are regularly feeling frazzled, harried and impatient. Tiny little things with your partner or kids set you off; you feel like a walking time bomb. Who knows when you’ll erupt, why or with whom. Sound familiar? We have all been there, done that, and know it isn’t very pleasant. So what are we going to do about it? Here’s a suggestion: stop trying to do it all. Say no, focus on ‘here’ and put the rest aside.
Parents: I get it. I know what it’s like. I know there are umpteen things you NEED to accomplish, and just as many that you would LIKE to be able to tick off the to-do list. I get that when you know full well that when you dole out the errands to the kids, it won’t be done as well, as quickly nor in the manner you’d like. I totally am with you that the 24 hours you are allotted each day is not nearly enough; having 30 – six of which are yours alone – would be much more user-friendly. I get that. But. I can also tell you this: you are not any more effective than your children when you try to do half a dozen things at once. In fact, you are probably a bit less efficient as well as more than likely a LOT less nice when you scramble around trying to get to everything. I know this to be true because that describes me to a T. Often. And each time, (after I beat myself up a bit) I regroup and refocus: what is really important here? Take a deep breath. Because you know what? When you scramble around like that, you are missing where you are right now. And right now, HERE is where you need to be.
So stop. Yes, you have things you have to do, but trust me, you can stop. Take a deep breath and gather yourself. Focus for a few minutes on what really REALLY needs to be done. And then prioritize it because even the ‘really needs to get done’ list has items on it that can wait. Be honest with yourself, and know that they can wait, or they can be completed by someone else.
You know what is an even better option? Put the list down and go be with your kids. Go play. Build lego cars and race them. Play kickball in the yard. Jump in a pile of leaves or have a snowball fight. Make cookies together. Just be with your kids, and focus on nothing else. When was the last time you did that? When was the last time spending time with your kids made it on your to-do list?
What would it take for you to be happy? This is not a rhetorical question. And not just 'bring a smile to your face' but Be. Happy. Would accomplishing your list make you happy? Would ticking off your tasks make you happy? Or would reading a book with your kids make you happy? Would playing a rousing game of Twister make you happy? Would going on a vacation and spending some quality device-free time with your family make you happy? I know, I know, it’s not that easy. Sometimes we have to have a list of tasks that we accomplish in order to gather together some free time with the kids. But if every day is filled with tasks, then there is no time left for the free time you are trying to scrape together in the first place.
If you get nothing else from this, know this: if you put off spending time with your kids when they are younger, then they will not have time to spend with you when they are older. I don’t think that would make you very happy, either. Prioritize what really is most important.