One of my friends recently asked, “Can you write a post about how to not leave my spouse and children to be a gypsy and live a carefree life?” She was joking of course (and is quite honestly one of the most amazing mothers I have the privilege of knowing) but all joking aside, her question is not that far off base in regards to how many parents feel sometimes.
Life is hard. Add marriage, kids, careers, housework, social life, pets, and everything else into the mix and life becomes that much more challenging. So, how do you do it all? What’s the secret? How can one handle everything life throws at them and still function like a human being? Keep reading and I’ll share some tips to help you keep your sanity and not feel as though you need to leave your family behind to live the life of a gypsy!
We live in a world where multitasking is almost looked at as a badge of honor, one many of us wear proudly (myself included if I am being honest). But here is the thing about multitasking that no one tells you: It’s not effective, it isn’t working, and it’s not helping you. I know, I know, for those of us who are super busy and have a million things to do, multitasking seems like our lifeline but in reality, it’s causing more stress and making us less present and less mindful. See, when we multitask, we aren’t really doing anything with all of our effort or attention. Instead, we are doing multiple things with partial attention, leaving us vulnerable to errors or mishaps.
If you are cooking dinner, helping you kids with homework, answering text messages, and unloading the dishwasher, you are likely feeling EXHAUSTED. You are likely running around your kitchen frazzled, stressed, and drained. So… stop. Cook dinner and just cook dinner. Focus only on dinner. The dishes can wait. The text messages can definitely wait (in fact, put your phone away completely or put it on airplane mode). Your child needing help with homework can be done at another time in the evening, OR your significant other can help them while you cook. Instead, talk with your family. Or, put on some music and sing along while you cook. I guarantee by doing one thing at a time, you’ll feel less exhausted and less drained. Then, when it’s time to do the dishes, you’ll be able to whip through them with more energy. Or, maybe you don’t even do the dishes for one night. Life will go on if every single dish is not washed and put away.
When we give all of our attention to one thing vs. multiple things at a time, we are more present in the moment. We are calmer. We feel less stressed. Also, we are more likely to be more efficient in the tasks we are doing because we have given ample attention to the task vs. partial attention. This is ESPECIALLY important when you are spending time with your kids. When you’re with your kids, BE WITH YOUR KIDS. Don’t be on your phone scrolling through social media or answering text messages. Giving your child 5 minutes of undivided attention is going to have a more of a positive impact rather than giving them 30 minutes of partial attention.
Let Sh*t Go!
I swear by the saying, “You can do ANYTHING, but you can’t do EVERYTHING.” Again, we live in a society where being busy and doing “all the things” somehow makes us feel more accomplished or successful, but in reality, we are just doing too much and stressing ourselves out in the process. Make a list of all of the things you do in a day. Now cut that list in half. Focus only on the things you NEED to do. The essentials to survival. Stop trying to do everything because quite frankly, you can’t, and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment in the process when that becomes the reality. Things will get done, they always do. So as I mentioned before, if you need to skip doing the dishes one night or you need to order take-out instead of cooking, go for it. If you have to make something for an upcoming bake sale or birthday party, stop at the store and buy it instead. Also, letting go also means letting go of things you DON’T want to do. Stop saying “yes” to social obligations you truly have no interest in attending. And stop feeling like you need to fill every moment of everyday with an activity to keep your kids busy. (Spoiler Alert! They’ll be fine entertaining themselves, I promise. You just need to let them!)
Also, find ways to outsource responsibilities. If you are in a position where you can financially afford it, hire a house-cleaner to come once or twice a month to do a good deep clean of the house. Or, let another parent host the play-date instead of feeling like you have to host it. Take a friend up on an offer to help you out. For example, if a friend is always saying “call me if you need me!”, call them. Ask for help. People often avoid asking for help as they view this as a form of “weakness.” Asking for help does not make you weak, it makes you strong in that you are able to admit you need assistance and can’t do it all on your own. It’s also much more efficient use of your time. Think about it, do you see CEOs of big companies doing everything themselves? No. Why? Because they focus on what they need to do and outsource the rest. Be the CEO of your own life.
Spend Time With Your Significant Other!
Relationships are HARD and require a lot of work. Sure, they always start off so easy and carefree and wonderful, but then life happens and they become more challenging. I cannot stress enough how important it is to implement QUALITY time with your spouse. Remember in the beginning of the relationship when you would actually go out of your way to impress them? When you would actively carve out time in your schedule to hang out with them? Go back to the basics. Yes, life is busy. Yes, the kids are always going to need something. Yes, there seems to be “no time.” But you need to MAKE the time. If you put everything ahead of your relationship, it is going to struggle and be that much more challenging to work on.
Implement time each week for just you and your spouse. It doesn’t need to be a fancy date night out (it can be of course), but it can be carving out time to just talk to each other, playing a board game, having an after-dinner drink, watching a TV show together, dancing to some music, anything! Try to limit distractions and multitasking. For example, do not decide to go on a date night but then answer emails on your phone while you wait for your food. Be present and be in the moment. It’ll do wonders for your relationship.
Also, keep the lines of communication open with your spouse. Let them know where you’re at, what you need from them, and how you feel things are going. Sometimes one partner feels unsupported or feels as though they have to do everything on their own. This then leads to anger and resentment. If you feel the dynamic shifting in the household, address it. If you need help, ask for it. People aren’t mind-readers, so if we don’t communicate our needs to your significant others, they are not going to know what we need from them. If communication is an area of concern in your relationship, I highly recommend seeking couple’s counseling with a trained mental health therapist for support in working through those concerns.
Get Off Of Social Media!
This is something I talk about at least 10x a day. Social media, while truly so wonderful in so many ways, is contributing to our increased stress levels, increased feelings of anxiety, and increased feelings of depression. We have all been there where we are having a crappy day and everything seems to being going wrong, and then we log into our Instagram account and see someone we follow posting about how great their life is, how wonderful their day is, how happy they are, how clean their house is, etc. and we want to instantly chuck our phone across the room and cry. Welcome to the comparison trap. We all fall victim to it. A great way to stop comparing yourself to others on social media is to get off of social media. Take a detox from social media at least one time a week, if not more. And most importantly remember, everyone is posting the best versions of themselves and their lives, not their bad days or stressful moments. Don’t always believe what you see.
Take Care Of Yourself!
I guarantee if you are reading this post, you are likely taking care of everything and everyone except yourself. Am I right? If I am, keep reading. Self-care is CRITICAL to survival and looks different for everyone. Think about what lifts you up, what inspires you, motivates you, excites you, and makes you feel good. Now, try to implement one of those things each day. I know the next thought will be, “I don’t have time”. I get it. You are busy. But again, you need to MAKE THE TIME! You make time for everything else, so why not yourself? Not sure where to start? I wrote a guest blog post all about self-care which lists a bunch of ways you easily implement self-care into your daily routine. Check it out HERE!
Be Gentle With Yourself!
You are a human being which means you are going to make mistakes. You are going to have bad days. You are going to have times where you feel defeated and want to cry. Own it. Embrace it. Feel it. Stop shoving your feelings away because society tells you to be strong and be “super-mom”. If you want to cry, then cry. If you’re having an off day, have your pity party and then move forward. It’s better to process and work through your emotions vs. hold your emotions in. When we hold our emotions in, they don’t go anywhere. So what happens is each time you get angry, sad, flustered, anxious, etc., the emotions just build and build and build and then finally, you just lose it over something minimal (I.e. Your husband forgetting to take the trash out sends you into a furious rage while your family stares at you, confused as to why this simple thing sent you into such a rage.) Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself a break. You’re doing the best you can.
Establish A Supportive Inner-Circle!
I cannot stress enough the importance of having a solid inner-circle of people in your life who support you, love you, motivate you, care about you, encourage you, and always have your back. It is so important for our mental health to establish healthy bonds and relationships with people who make us feel good. So, take a moment and evaluate the people in your life. Do they lift you up, or bring you down? If they lift you up, make sure you are staying connected with your inner circle group daily. Even if it’s just a quick check-in text or call. If your inner circle brings you down, time to find a new inner circle.
Remember, you are always going to have things to do. You are always going to feel like there are not enough hours in the day. But think about where you were a year ago. Do you remember anything that was stressing you out then? My guess is probably not. Which means we need to let go of the trivial stuff and focus on what matters. Most importantly: You are not alone. Your feelings of stress and frustration are warranted and felt by others. Life is hard. You are doing the best you can. You got this. Keep going.
I would LOVE to know what spoke to you today and encourage you to comment below and share with me!
If you are interested in learning more about my therapy services, check out my website HERE. Seeking mental health services can be daunting and if you are finding my posts resonate with you, it is likely you are feeling ready to take that next step to work on leading a happier, healthier life! I would LOVE to support you in starting this journey and welcome you to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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