Recently, my parents each told me they were worried about my pace of life. When they visited, they saw me frazzled, stressed, snappy, and in general overwhelmed with the demands of motherhood, work, and life. To put it in their words, “I need to simplify.”
This was difficult to hear for a go-getter Mama. I’ve always felt like I can do anything, handle anything, take on anything. But life has apparently caught up: two rambunctious boys, being seven months pregnant, juggling work, friendships and school activities, coping with errands while my husband travels often for work, and lacking any family in Dallas to help.
My parents were right. Something had to give, but what? I didn’t want to sacrifice being involved in my children’s lives or school. I didn’t want to give up my own work, where I have a chance to release my creative side. So what could I change?
Here is how I’ve decided to simplify my life:
Say No – The word “no” has never really been in my vocabulary. It signified a sign of weakness to me…and I am anything but weak. But after my list of duties and responsibilities and commitments reached a certain limit I decided that I absolutely had to start saying No. There was no way I could coach t-ball, head the school auction, write, work, cook, walk my dogs, clean, love my husband and children properly and still find time for me…without going completely insane. The first time I refused an offer felt uncomfortable, like I was letting the person down. The second time, felt liberating. I finally set my limit and knew that I couldn’t exceed it.
Delegate – My husband travels often so I was sick of spending our weekends together cleaning, shopping and doing laundry — or killing myself on weeknights to get it all done to save the weekend. Per my mother’s urging I decided to hire a “Mother’s Helper”. Someone to run errands, grocery shop, start dinner, do the laundry and pick up the house a couple of days a week. Let me just say…game changer!
Make Lists – I bought an app called “Task” for $0.99 and it has helped me stay organized with my husband and my Mother’s Helper. It is a super simple app but is very sophisticated at the same time. All of your tasks appear on one screen that you can share with others and they/you can check off as they go so we are all on the same page. You can also set time/date reminders that are very helpful. I don’t know about you, but I was using iPhone “Notes” before and things would just get lost or forgotten about because they never popped up. This has helped me so much figure out my day to day and I highly recommend it.
Me Time – This used to be very easy for me, but somehow has fallen last in line. I think most mothers sacrifice their “me” time for their children and the greater good of their home. But making yourself happy can go a long way to keeping your family happy as well. So whether it’s a yoga class, manicure, meditation time, what have you…make sure you don’t forget about what is important for you to be the best you. Because if you make yourself happy then you are bound to have happy children and a happy husband. Happiness and calmness seems to rub off on others. I know that when I am stressed I can see it effects my kids and when I am happy we’re usually all happy together.
Have your children help more – My children have always helped out and done chores, but recently I have given them even more responsibility. I have a check list of everything they need to do before coming to the kitchen for breakfast and I have learned to let go of this power and trust that they can get it done. They need to get dressed, use the potty, brush their teeth, put on shoes, find a lunch bag and eat breakfast. If they forget a step, then they go to school without something and they’ll survive and learn from it. I find that this method has kept me much calmer in the mornings and it just seems to work better for all of us.
I think a lot of mothers with young children face similar challenges. These changes have helped me become more centered and focused in my life that before felt out of control. I wish you all the luck Mamas. It’s a hard job, but remember it is ok to ask for help…you’re not alone!