There are times in life whenwe can feel a little too “sped up”. We feel as though, little by little, we’ve bitten off way more than we can chew, and all of a sudden, the calm schedule we created and the peaceful pace we set for ourselves has become unmanageable.
When that happens, we need to take the timeto slow back down to a pace thatwe’recomfortable with. Here are some ideas that work for me.
Cut back on the “ughs”
Do you ever look at your calendar and think “ugh”?
Ugh to that upcoming doctor’s appointment.
Ugh to that deadline.
Ugh to that big birthday party you were planning.
Ugh to the extra soccer practice.
Ugh to that dinner.
Ugh to the volunteer commitment.
Obviously we can’t cut back all of the ughs. Doctor’s appointments are usually time-sensitive and deadlines sometimes can’t be shifted.
But there are many things you might be able to cut back.
Like a big birthday party for one of your kids. Why not just invite 2 friends instead of 10? Or invite the 10 friends, but ditch the organised games and take the cake to the park where the kids can make their own fun. Bonus: no cleaning up before or after!
Will it take the stress off you to do this?
Maybe your ugh is a volunteer commitment. I’m not saying “don’t do volunteer work ever again.” I’m just saying that if it has an ugh attached to it, it’s probably because a) your heart’s not in it any more, or b) you are struggling to keep up with what you HAVE to do. Never mind any extras. So maybe you can step back for a little while. This might mean walking away for a few weeks, or for many months. Or maybe it just means reduced commitment from you going forward.
ACTION: Get rid of anything in your calendar that has an “UGH” attached to it.
Start saying NO
Easier said than done, I realise. But let’s be completely honest here. Do you really WANT to say yes to that new project? Yes to that new job? Yes to that extra curricula activity that will just stress you out and exhaust your child?
Saying no takes practice and courage. Sometimes you might even really want to take on that new project/job/activity, but it’s just not the right time.
Winston Churchill is attributed with saying, “There is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.”
Maybe that applied in his circle of friends, but it doesn’t in ours.While I do certainly agree that there is a time for daring and endurance, I also believe there is most definitely a time for ease.
Maybe that time is right now for you. Perhaps you have a newborn and you just can’t manage the extra weekly sport’s game for an older child.
Can you find another way for that child to play sport that doesn’t involve you having to facilitate? Can you carpool? Or take on a different activity that isn’t quite as time intensive? Or just give it a break for a few months?
It is definitely a balancing act, because of course you don’t want your older child to feel neglected.
And you must have the courage to strengthen your grip on life when you feel it spiraling out of control. If that means saying no to a particular project or activity for a few months, then so be it.
If you have young children and are struggling with the current pace of life, it is time to ease off.
ACTION: Decide if this is a time for ease, and if it is, create space for it.
Scrap your to do list
Seriously. Just file it away. Forget the extensive list and just focus on one thing each day or week.
Whenever I feel myself approaching overwhelm, I write a long master list of what I need or want to achieve but take only ONE of the tasks from that list for each week. The rest of the list gets filed away so that I can’t see it.
If I get through my task in a day, that’s awesome. I can add another or just enjoy not having any extra commitments for the rest of the week.
This works well for what might be considered fairly major projects for busy mothers. Things like organising photos to print, cleaning windows or planting new seedlings.
This particular approach helps to keep you achieving what you want to achieve without drowning you in guilt.
ACTION: Hide your main to do list and focus on ONE thing at a time.
So you’re at the point where you can’t cut back on any more ughs and you don’t want to say no to this or that. But you can’t do it all on your own.
You need help.
Ask for it. Find it. Trade it. Pay for it.
Whatever it takes.
Just don’t struggle alone.
And don’t forget to give help as well. Is there another mum in your life who could use some time out for herself or to participate in a project close to her heart? Can you look after her children for a few hours and then swap on another day of the week so that you both have time for your own thing?
ACTION: Find something that you can outsource or trade. A local teenager might be looking for work or a friend might be up for a kid-swapso that you can both enjoy some time out.
Over to you: what do you do when you’re not comfortable with the speed at which life seems to be racing past?