Are you overwhelmed? Yep. Me too. Can you not seem to get a regular shower? What about having enough of the right kind of cold cereal? Nopity-nope. Me neither. As I sit here writing to you I can’t remember the last time I took a shower. I know you’re with me. Yes? No? Really, it’s just me?! Then nevermind. I totally showered. Twice. I’m super clean. But I didn’t respond to the eleventy-billion emails. Hint: I’m 72.3% sure it’s a schedule problem.
We ARE overwhelmed, but it is a scheduling problem. I think we can fix it. Maybe.
The first step to solving this problem is admitting we have a load (and I mean a giant, monster-sized truck load of work to do!) Even though much of it seems tedious and not worthy of being written on a calendar or schedule, it is important work that must be done to help the family run smoothly. They must have toilet paper, Cheerios, milk, and clean laundry. And to make myself happy I must volunteer at my kids’ school 23 billion hours a week.
We are treading the waters of contaminated time. (A phrase I learned from Brigid Schulte and her enlightening book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has The Time.) Meaning, we are wearing so many different hats and doing so many different jobs, that we can’t keep track of things. Occasionally I make it look easy, but more often than not, I am close to drowning.
Contaminated Time is Paralyzing.
According to time researchers, women do five things at a time. The same researchers also say that while we’re doing those five things, we’re thinking about 2-3 other things. Gah!!! We are awesome, but also tired and overwhelmed.
We owe it to ourselves to acknowledge how much work we are trying to get done during the few short hours we have of kid free time (if any), and then we need to schedule that work. Map out the day. Week days in particular.
Write it Down.
Find a program that works for you. It’s not the same for all of us. I have mama friends that are still very much in love with their paper planners, and others that are all about one particular app or another. While I personally love Cozi (this is not a sponsored post, just one busy mama’s opinion) for tracking my family’s schedule, I needed my own tracking system for my day.
Just like my husband doesn’t have the details of his work calendar on our family calendar, I didn’t want the gory details of my daily schedule muddying up our family calendar. I chose the calendar app that comes with my phone, but there are loads of scheduling options. From the super simple excel spread sheet to apps with all the bells and whistles.
I took forty-five minutes and I mapped out the week days, entering the following on my calendar:
- School drop off
- 30 minutes for daily planning (drinking coffee while making/updating to do lists, altering the daily schedule to reflect things specific to that day, etc. etc.)
- Exercise (I did not enter shower, however, I scheduled enough time for exercise and shower)
- Grocery shopping
- Volunteer hours
It is vitally important to our sanity that we schedule time for all of these things. It is not realistic to think that it will all happen organically and smoothly. When we leave it to chance, we end up rushing from one thing to the next, just barely staying ahead of the wave. It feels lousy. So much of our mama self worth is wrapped up in our ability to keep ALL OF THE THINGS running smoothly, and all of the people happy, in clean clothes, and fed the very specific things they want to eat. All while volunteering a eleventy-gabillion hours, creating your new mama tribe, and reading that parenting book that will solve all of your problems!
What we are doing is super tricky! And often under-valued. It is vitally important though. You got this mama!