Overwhelmed with Nothing; Part 1

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Are you the kind of mom – or person – who takes on, what feels like, 100 tasks or projects at a time?  And 12 hours later, when it’s time to put the kids to bed, you realized you got to cross off MAYBE 2 things off your extremely unrealistically long to-do list.  You barely got the essentials done, which is really just making sure your kids survived the day, yet you’re exhausted.  You recap what you actually did in the day and notice it isn’t enough to make you feel this exhausted on your worst day.  But you are.

You feel stressed, disappointed, mad, sad, anxious, emotional.  GUILTY.

That “Mom Guilt” sets in pretty darn heavy and you quickly think of a plan for how tomorrow will make up for today.  Or worse- the guilt doesn’t set in and you start wondering what’s wrong with you.  I can’t tell you how many times in the last few years I’ve had days like this.

The dishes are dirty, the laundry has been laughing at me for a week now because I haven’t folded it and put it nicely tucked away where it belongs, I lost the field trip permission slips, I need to go to the bank, vocal exercises & rehearsing my songs for future shows is important, school parties, bills bills & more bills, I just got a new book I want to start reading, work and team calls, people are wanting me to go to acting class, I need to work out, gotta spend time on Facebook (’cause that’s really important…), my kids can’t find any matching socks (G-d, I HATE socks) and of course- they need to eat.  They always need to eat.

Exhausting.

But what I’ve learned is 9 times out of 10 what I’m more exhausted by is the fact that I am overwhelmed with nothing.

 I am overwhelmed by the thought of doing ALL those things in a 12-15 hour time span.  I am overwhelmed by the thought of wanting to do all those things perfectly.  I am overwhelmed by the thought of how “all these other mom’s are doing it, why can’t I?!”

It’s paralyzing.  It creates a mindset that really makes it nearly impossible to do anything.   And on top of that, we judge ourselves based off of the expectations we have.  Expectations we’ve created from the lives of others that we really know nothing about.  We beat ourselves up and knock ourselves down with terrible self-talk (that G-d forbid anything know of) and then expect to perform above par.

But in the last few months I’ve been able to get a handle, well a better handle, over my to-do list and it’s made a world of difference in me and my kids’ lives.  I want to share 5 little adjustments I made in hopes that it can help ease some of that tension from your life!

  1. Know Your Priorities:  Sit down and make a list of your top 3 priorities in life.  Whether it’s your kids, work, marriage, physical fitness, starting a new business, reading with your kids at night, or writing a blog 🙂  When you know what you’re priorities in life are it will make making decisions much easier.  If you have them in order when opportunities present themselves to you (and we all know we like to do EVERYTHING) you can make a decision very quickly.  If it doesn’t line up with what’s important to you, don’t do it.  If it does, do it.  If it will make you compromise parts of your life temporarily (PTA projects, work events) but you think it’s worth it then weigh the odds and make a decision.  This is essential to do first because we do like to do everything but that will only get us back to feeling overwhelmed by doing……nothing at all.  So do what’s important!
  2. Don’t Give Away Too Much of Yourself:  Okay, this one can be the more difficult of steps, if not the most difficult one.  Some times this means changing or leaving toxic relationships (not just romantic).  A lot of friends, co-workers and partners can take too much of us IF we let them and we end up feel depleted, drained, exhausted.  Not at all a way to help us accomplish the things we want to.  So, setting up boundaries (which is a great topic for a future post) or disassociating ourselves, in a mature way, with people who are taking advantage of us is extremely helpful.  It’s not just people either; PTA projects or a new book club that are taking up our time when we haven’t taken care of the essentials.  There’s nothing wrong those things or a new workout class BUT if we’re stressing over things that aren’t done it’s time to re-prioritize.  Do you realize how much time we give to people or projects that could be spent taking care of the things we see as important?  A LOT!
  3. Plan Ahead:  One of my favorites!  PLAN AHEAD, make lists!!!  I’ve gotten more done by making a weekly and daily to-do list then when I don’t.  Some of the close people in my life know how OCD I am about my lists (it can totally get out of hand) but I like to write everything out.  Then cross it off.  See what I’ve accomplished and what is yet to be done.  Know what the week will bring (dr appts, parent-teacher conferences, when bills are due, rehearsals, Hannah’s homework, etc.).  If I sit down Sunday night and map out my week I feel so much more in control of my time.  I know when and where I’ll be and when I’ll have down time to tend to the other stuff (laundry, dishes, reorganizing my closets, when I can workout, read a book, etc).  It really helps.  Try it for a week, Sunday night write out EVERYTHING you can possibly think of that HAS TO GET DONE in the coming week.  Schedule it out on which days you’ll be doing what and see how much extra time you actually have to….. ENJOY LIFE.
  4. Stay Committed & Focused: Okay, after setting up your priorities, I can tell you this is the most important tip.  This is when you do the work.  You commit to what your schedule says and do it.  If you have to go to the bank, figure out when you will and then do it.  If you want to clean your house, set a time limit on your phone and during that time CLEAN YOUR HOUSE.  Don’t play on Facebook, don’t answer texts, don’t stop in front of the TV “for a minute.”  Commit and focus to your task at hand.  When the times up, you’re done.  It’s that simple.  I can tell you, in 30 minutes of FOCUSED cleaning I can get my apartment in better shape then if I spent ALL day cleaning my apartment but being unfocused while doing it.  So much time has been spent Facebook stalking or…. laying with Lily, when I could have been focused!
  5. Don’t Strive for Perfect:  I know you’ve heard this but I think it’s something we need to hear daily– PERFECTION DOES NOT EXIST.  There’s no such thing.  And although we “know” this, we can forget very easily when we get caught up in other people’s lives, expectations from our families, disappointments from loved ones.  But it doesn’t exist so give yourself some slack.  Give yourself permission NOT to be so-called “perfect.”  If you can tackle 2-3 tasks instead of 15 a day, chances are you will accomplish more in 1 week’s time.  And imagine how you’ll feel when that week is over: accomplished!  Happy, positive, less stressed.  Remember, striving for something that doesn’t exist will only get you to a place that…doesn’t exist.  So do what you can, with what you got and enjoy the ride!

I hope these tips helps!

I know this is something I struggle with, wanting to do it all, but I end up doing nothing at all which makes me feel less of Super-Woman and more of a failure.  But the truth is, I’m neither (and neither are you!) so finding a balance between the two is the key.

Til next time…. -Ashley XO

 

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