“You’re handing this remarkably well,” said my husband as we brought the last of the houseplants out to a shaded corner of the backyard. We were preparing to have the house tented for termites: all of the open food and liquor, houseplants, medicine, people, and Traviesa the cat needed to be removed for the three-day process.
Our original crash pad arrangement had fallen through and so my husband, two kids, and Traviesa were going to be bunking for three nights with a generous friend who had a meticulously-kept house, exquisite hardwood floors, elegantly upholstered furniture, and who had never had children or pets of his own. (I gave the cat a stern talking-to while trimming her nails before putting her in the carrier; the boys were lectured, too.)
I knew my husband meant his statement as a compliment, albeit a backhanded one, and I let my soft self accept the statement as praise, ignoring my prickly side which had a slightly different reaction.
But I had to agree with him; I was handling my stress remarkably well.
In the past, I would have continued to squeeze more projects and responsibilities into my already full schedule – even with the addition of moving out of our home – until each day was filled to overflowing, bringing my stress to high levels while my mood crashed and burned.
There was a lot that I was saying yes to this summer, but I was saying no to so much more.
Earlier in the summer, I had written a short handbook to accompany my “How to Parent Like a Prius” program for moms. (You can get your free copy here.) The handbook includes a recommendation to evaluate everything on your to do list in terms of its desirability and its urgency/importance.
Here’s what happened when I followed my own advice:
I exterminated responsibilities with low desirability and low importance from my to do list. This means that, for now, I’ve ditched passive leisure activities like watching television and spending extra time on Facebook.
I’m handling responsibilities that have high importance and low desirability the same way I deal with big, icky spiders – by asking, “Honey, could you help me, please?” My husband took over most of the preparation for the fumigation and all of the tasks involved with moving back in. (He thoroughly cleaned the empty refrigerator and freezer before stocking the food we had stored offsite during the fumigation. No, I’m not sharing him.)
In addition, I delegated all of my baby sign language responsibilities to the extremely capable Teri Voorhes, one of Touch Blue Sky’s baby sign language instructors and an uber-efficient administrative assistant/project manager.
I'm treating items with high desirability but lower urgency (not importance in this case) with the utmost care. Much like how I capture delicate daddy longlegs with a cup and carry them outside, I moved my time with girlfriends to after my book launches on September 1st. I’ve missed seeing my friends but I know they’ll be waiting for me when my schedule clears after book launch day.
What’s left are the essentials: work that makes a difference, my children, husband, and home. And even though my schedule is crawling with things to do, I can breathe easy.
Kathleen Ann Harper is the author of the soon-to-be-released book, The Well-Crafted Mom, and a certified life coach for moms. She runs programs for moms, offers one-on-one sessions, and speaks to groups both large and small to help moms manage the many transitions of motherhood. Download her free handbook, How to Parent Like a Prius, by clicking here.
I'm a mother of two incredible boys, wife to Bill White of Happy Baby Signs, author of the books The Well-Crafted Mom and Signs of a Happy Baby, and an intuitive life coach. I like to blog about my adventures with my family and the life lessons I'm learning along the way. I hope you'll join me on this journey.
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