Thursday, September 13, 2007

So Much to Do, So Little Time

I've been told by several older women that this is the way it is for middle age. Kids going every different place, trying to get ahead in your career, participating in civic activities, professional organizations and changing roles with your parents.

Whew. That makes me tired just thinking about it. How did we get in this mess?

I think we get into it a little at a time. If you can afford it, no one wants to deprive their child of good experiences, like sports or scouting. So you say only one extracurricular - only one. per kid per person in the house. Okay only one for the kids and two for the adults. Well, really we'll go and do whatever activities the kids get us into and the ones we promised we would do. plus work, plus family, plus friends, plus housekeeping, plus...

Juggling all these things or trying to causes a lot of stress and a lot of sleepless nights. If it seems like you have to be a superhero to do all of this well, you're right. This expectation that we have to do everything and be everything all at once is very damaging to our physical, mental and emotional health. It is imperative that we slim down our busy schedules. And there's the rub. It's easy to say, "I've got to do less" and very hard to actually do less.

So we cope and compensate. Plan our day. Put our make up on in the car. Schedule our time and our children's time. Grab convenience food. Multi-task. Let a few things slip. Buy special treats for the kids. Eat some extra ice cream. Buy an expensive pair of must-have shoes on an impulse. Drink copious amounts of caffeine. Hire a maid. Hire a babysitter. The list can go on.

STOP. Enough already. Sit down. Leave the dishes. Say, "No." Why?

Because we have gotten stuck in the hamster wheel.

I like taking a moment in the fall to reflect on what it is that I am doing with my time and what does my family need. Some people do this at New Year's, but for me it's the fall. I think because I know winter is around the corner and the family can get closer in the winter and also busier. The Fall is a transition time also. So here is the formula I am following at the moment.

1. List what values are important to me

2. List what activities create the most joy/happiness

3. Look at my commitment list and compare it to what I would prefer to be doing

4. Mark the things I am committed to that don't match up

5. Choose a date in the future to bow out of that commitment or change my level of involvement.

6. Let people who are affected know ahead of time that my schedule does not allow me to continue participating after a certain date.

7. Wrap up any loose ends in that area

8. When the date comes, move on


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