I know that I can’t do it all, but I find that I am still trying. I know that this is the reality of the situation. I think this is the trap that women fall into. My husband is much better at this. He knows that he has to miss something to work. He is used to that. He attends a ton for our children. He does his very best. He is also totally okay if he has to miss something. He just knows that he can’t do everything. As I sit here waiting for the tree guy to come, I asked Seth if he could pick up our daughter from camp. He can’t. He can’t do it all. He knows that and the trick is that he is okay with that. I learn a lot from him.
My oldest daughter is in a musical at the same time as Lillie’s first official cheer practice / parent meeting. I can’t go to both. There are many times I want to be at both, but we have to learn to prioritize what is more important to us. It is more important that we attend Ella’s musical.
My husband gave me really good advice about this topic and how to feel less overwhelmed. He told me that when I am working be at work. When I am with the kids be with the kids. Whatever I am doing – be present there. It is what you are choosing to do at the time. It is your priority and there are many reasons for it. Maybe you are at work right now wishing you were home with your kids. Maybe you are home with your kids wishing that you were at work. That thinking makes us feel badly and doesn’t help. Be happy with your choices and where you happen to be at the moment.
I was looking over my children’s summer schedule today. Between my daughter’s theater performances and my son’s mandatory football practices, a summer trip is not looking so good. I looked at Seth and said, “How bad is it if we don’t take them somewhere this summer?” He told me they are happy. They are busy kids who are enjoying theater and football. I don’t know if I will get to go anywhere and that’s okay. The fact that I am typing this is major progress. I can’t do everything.
I have gotten to interview a lot of therapists about balance. I keep hearing about focus vs. balance. We think we have to balance everything at the same time, and our heads are swirling, and we wonder why we are so exhausted. We are exhausting ourselves in our brains. We don’t need to do everything, and we certainly don’t need to do everything at the same time. If you work at home like I do it’s even harder to focus. I’m not in an office in my house. That would probably be helpful to “hide” in a place that I assign for work. I am sitting at my kitchen table typing. I see the dishes overflowing in the sink. I’m thinking about the laundry baskets in my bedroom that I want to fold. I can’t do everything right now. I need to simply focus on what I am doing. This is important. Work is the focus right now. The laundry and dishes can wait.
Maybe you are feeling like you are focusing too much on one area of your life. My friend has been home with her children for over 17 years. She wants to start to think more about work for herself. She wants to feel important in a different way and use her skills and contribute to her family. She will need to shift some of her focus to achieve this goal.
Maybe you think you are working too much. Your kids are missing you and you have missed a lot of activities that your kids have going on. Maybe your spouse has been complaining that you are working too much. Maybe you can cut down a little and see your family a little more. Shifting focus a little to whatever needs your attention.
Maybe your spouse is complaining that you never spend time with him/her. I am guilty in getting lost in how busy I am with our children. I don’t ever want to forget about my husband. He needs my attention just as much as my kids do and just as much as I need to pay attention to myself too.
You can evaluate your days on a regular basis. Think about how your days are going. Do your days align with your values? Are you happy? Is your family happy? What needs your attention. I interviewed a wonderful lady who told me to think about it as walking on a tight rope. We lean to one side and then we lean to the other side as we try to achieve some sort of a balanced life. Balance does not mean doing everything at one time. I think that’s what we all forget. Balance means that we are doing one thing at a time and focusing on one thing at a time. I feel scattered and overwhelmed when I allow all the things to consume my mind at the same time. What needs me right now?
- How do you feel?
- Are you happy?
- What did you accomplish?
- What do you want to prioritize tomorrow?
- What did you give attention to? What did you focus on?
- What needs your attention and focus next?
- What do you value? Are your days aligning with your values?
These questions can give you the answers you need to build your days and your life to look how you want it to. If you are feeling scattered and overwhelmed, you can slow yourself down and remind yourself to focus on one thing at a time. What is the priority right now?
If you are feeling like you are missing your kids, plan some quality time with each of them.
If you are feeling like you are missing your spouse, it’s time for a date.
If you are feeling like you aren’t getting enough accomplished at work – hone in your focus on one thing at a time. I’ve been told multi tasking makes us stupid and slows us down.
If you are feeling like you aren’t getting enough work accomplished and you work at home, that’s a whole different story. First, block out all the house stuff and know that this is your time to work. Also, let your kids know that you need X number of hours to get something done. I will tell my kids I am recording and that I would like them to leave my door shut until I open it. Be clear in your expectations to your family and be clear in the fact that this is work time not housework time.
If you are feeling like your summer is getting away from you and you are not enjoying it the way you want to – it’s time to make some summer plans.
You are the only one who can evaluate what part of your life is feeling like it is lacking your attention. You can’t do everything at once. You can’t do it all. However, you can work on your priorities and make yourself happy.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
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