Inspiration, Journaling, mental health, parenting

How Do You Do It ALL???

I’m sitting here on my back patio listening to my 2 year old cry because I am not pushing her on the swing, my 6 year old is asking 5 questions per minute that I’m half-heartedly trying to answer, and my 8 year old was forced against her will to being her Barbie’s outside to play. I am home with my kids while my husband got to have his early morning photography time – something we try to build in once or twice per week. I am trying to work on this blog and grow my business (Your Mental Restoration).

I don’t do it all. I won’t do it all. I cannot possibly do everything and I accept that! I CAN choose where my attention goes. I CAN give myself permission to feel accomplished when I tackle something mindfully. In this moment, I am empowering my children to learn to play self-sufficiently (against their will), I am empowering myself to carve out time for my interests and values and I am empowering my husband to grow his photography business by practicing his skills. I could choose to look at the scenario through a fatalistic lens: I’m failing as a mom because my kids want my attention and I am not giving it. I am failing as a housekeeper because the chores are not being attended to. I am failing as a writer because I have distractions. I fundamentally reject the fatalistic lens. I believe it comes from comparison (ahem Instagram feed) and the belief that other moms, other wives, other writers, etc. are somehow achieving their goals without any barriers. I reject that notion because I talk openly with others and that allows me to know their truth: it isn’t true! Instead of letting shame take over and convince you that you struggle more than anyone else does, I invite you to talk with your friends, peers, and families about the realities of their lives. I think you will find validation and comfort in the fact that they are also having to choose what to prioritize and what to ignore. They have to choose not to beat themselves up for their perceived failures.

Everyone struggles to juggle the identities, roles and tasks in their lives.

How many basketballs do you think you could hold?

I’d venture to say that at any given time, I could probably hold three…but not well. I think of the various life “shoulds”, to-do list tasks, expectations and roles as metaphorical basketballs. I cannot hold them all at once. If I try to hold too many at once, I end up dropping them and making a fool of myself! I CAN decide which ones I choose to pick up and carry, I CAN decide what I am going to prioritize and where I am going to put my attention. This morning, I’m carrying my “writer ball”, “mom ball” and “self-care ball”. I can switch between making the three of them my top priority (when I get stuck on writing, I play with my kids!) None of them are getting my full attention; however, because I am willing to accept the limitations of time, I absolve myself of any guilt related to the state of my house, my inbox, my friendships, etc. I’ll pick up those balls later…

So how do I do it all? I don’t! I do what I can, when I can. I allow myself the freedom to NOT have intense levels of guilt and shame over the things I do not do, while allowing myself to feel pride and satisfaction in the tasks that I DO accomplish.


Keeping a Schedule

When I think back over the last few years about when I felt the most productive and confident, I readily identify the winter between 2012/2013.  I can also easily identify why…I had a great schedule! I was honoring myself by going to the gym, visiting family, spending time with friends, and working with regularity and consistency.  Having a schedule prevented me from overworking, isolating, and/or avoiding.  I was able to meet my own needs and take care of myself by relying on a schedule that I made while in my wisest state of mind. 

I share this with you as I have recently realized that I have NOT been sticking to my schedule! I sat down today and remedied this situation and wanted to share with you some steps that made it easier:

  1. Determine what you value and want to accomplish during a week.  Examples may be exercise, visit relatives, spend time with friends, work, read, create art, hike…
  2. Create measurable goals related to each thing you want to do, such as workout 3x/week or visit grandma once/week. 
  3. Create a blank schedule with one column per day
  4. Fill in the mandatory/inflexible parts of you schedule in blocks
  5. Weigh out the other pieces of the puzzle, filling the week in with as much balance as possible

I really do recommend that you stick to your schedule for several weeks before making any changes.  At first, only make changes to things that were problematic during your trial run.  This might be removing things that you scheduled after work if you find yourself having to stay late at work certain days.  It may be permitting yourself to sleep in on a Thursday or Friday if your week is taxing.  Try to limit the number of changes you make at a time so that you know what is helping and what isn’t.