Google told me that the average person makes 35,000 decisions in a day ... that's a lot of decisions! Never mind if you are carrying the mental load for your family because that adds a shit ton more decisions!
I just don't have the capacity to make anymore of them today. I have made enough and I am done. I do not have the mental energy to stay 2 steps ahead of what my family, my employer, AND my business needs to be prepared for tomorrow (never mind beyond that!). I can barely muster the mental fortitude to patiently deal with the after school crash that comes for my kid after holding his cookies together all day at school. Homework, need I say more! I am cross eyed from managing the family calendar, and making sure everyone has rides to where they have to be and the proper equipment, supplies and snacks they need! Mustering the professional demeanor to deal with a less than professional situation with an employer – nope, can’t do it today! Making decisions about the future finances of my business, and of my family – my brain feels out of focus! I don’t want to think about dinner, the beds that have no sheets, making lunches for tomorrow, putting together a grocery list, the errands that are undone, the parties I have not RSVP’d to, or the fact that none of us have clean underwear in our drawers!
Because the mental load of being a mom is real, and it’s big, and it makes you want to crawl in a hole and hide some days. And despite having an incredibly capable brain, it makes you have decision fatigue!!
So if you, like me, are all done with decisions for the day … STOP MAKING THEM! Ask your kids or your partner for help with the errands or the lunches or whatever is on your plate. Set boundaries with people who are taking advantage of you or who are setting unrealistic expectations. Tell people no! (No is a complete sentence by the way!!) Let your kids eat cereal in front of the TV tonight for dinner and sit in your PJ’s and join them. Turn off your work email, turn off social media, tune out of the “noise” and connect with people who matter to you. Focus your mental energy on positive things and people that fill you up! Tell people you are having a hard day and let them care for you!
REST, REGROUP, and get back at it tomorrow!! It’s OK to slow down and ask for help! Its OK to say no! It’s OK to move away from toxic relationships or work environments that make you feel like shit! It’s OK to stop making decisions for a bit! Actually, I think it’s imperative to our sanity to do all of these things!! We are smart, and capable, and loving, and amazing but we can’t pour from an empty cup!
I am a huge lover of quotes that inspire you and make you think. One that rings true for me – and I am betting many of you – is “Comparison is the thief of joy”. That quote came to mind the other day when I went to a coffee shop to get some work done. I had been working from home in the same sweats for 2 days and needed to interact with humanity outside of my house! Anyway, it was very interesting to observe the interactions between the people all around me.
The entrepreneurs and the moms with kids seemed to keep a distance from one another. I noticed a middle aged woman - who was clearly there trying to work – glare at a mom with her two young kids in tow as if the mom was somehow encroaching on her space and being too loud with her hungry little kids (who weren’t in fact being loud but super cute). I wondered if this woman was annoyed at the kids or annoyed that she was working.
Then there was the mom who was just trying to get a cup of coffee and her toddler was having a fit because he wanted that “big giant cookie with 6 million M&M’s on it”. The mother was pretty busy wrestling her little guy into the stroller as they made their way out of the coffee shop but as she did I saw her stare wistfully for a moment at the young woman with her earbuds in and her laptop on peacefully typing away at something.
And every woman in the place seemed to give a longing glance to the two older women who were clearly enjoying their retirement and friendship as they both laughed and smiled and talked about grandchildren and their travels.
I may be off my rocker in my observations but these women seemed to be comparing their lives to the snapshot they saw of someone else’s. And maybe they were jealous of the person they saw and maybe they were judgmental (maybe neither), but either way they looked like they felt deflated.
When we compare ourselves to others we are often times comparing their highlight reel (the good stuff) to our own blooper reel (the negative feelings about ourselves and our circumstance). And since the advent of social media we see A LOT of highlight reels but don’t always see the challenges simmering underneath the surface.
It is so easy to get caught up in the no-win game of comparison. To feel like your life is challenging, or stressful, or lonely in comparison to all of those life highlights we see on social media or in our wistful observations at the coffee shop. But when we compare our lives to others it shifts the focus away from all of the things we should be excited about within ourselves.
When you find yourself getting caught up in comparing your life with everyone else’s highlight reel (we all do it sometimes), try these steps to help get your thoughts back in your own lane.
There is always something in our own lives to be proud of and focus on, we just have to stop and pay attention sometimes!
In my line of work I get to chat with lots of women, most of whom are moms and all of whom deal with the BS and frustrations of life (we all do ... no matter how Facebook perfect some people make their lives look on the outside).
The other day I was chatting with group of moms and one of them relayed the story of how every night when she is trying to cook dinner she usually feels like a failure because the $h!t hits the fan in her house right around that time and she struggles to get anything done and keep her patience (ie. not scream at her kids). She told us how one night recently she just "gave up" and hung out with her kids instead of making the dinner she had planned. That feeling of failure consumed her because she wasn't able to do what she set out to do -cook dinner - despite the fact that she had fun with her kids. So we shifted the conversation and talked about how she FELT in that moment when she was hanging out with her kids, and how they felt.
She realized that even though she felt like she failed at dinner, she was actually more relaxed and they had a lot of fun together. But she was so focused on the "failure" of not making dinner and piecing together a meal for her family that she wasn't able to see it! Once she shifted her perspective and was able to see the good in the situation instead of fixating on her "failure" she was able to let go of the guilt and appreciate the time she had with her kids.
I challenge you to shift your perspective sometimes.
When you feel like a failure, when you don't think things are going well, when you didn't reach a goal when you thought you would ... SHIFT YOUR PERSPECTIVE! Look at things from a different angle. Try your best to find the positive, the encouraging, the uplifting parts of your story and focus on those. And don't be so hard on yourself!
Over the last couple of years I have come to the realization that I have a really hard time saying no! I do not like to feel like I am letting people down, or not pulling my own weight, or causing someone else to be inconvenienced. I also came to the realization that saying yes to too many things meant that I was spreading myself thin in a way that left me feeling stressed out and caused me to be unable to give ANYTHING my full attention or care. Ultimately I wasn’t really being helpful to anyone, including myself.
I decided it was time to start being more deliberate in what I said yes to and what I said no to. It was really hard at first to set boundaries at work and at home, and limit my volunteer time with the kids’ school, PTO, church, etc. The hard part was not the reaction I got from others though, it was mostly in my head … my own self-imposed guilt!
I work part time in my legal job and since starting my coaching practice I’ve had to be more intentional with planning the specific hours I will (and will not) be available to that job. I was afraid of letting my boss down by not being as flexible with my time and ability to work several extra hours when needed. It took me a while to get the courage to talk with her about it, but the fall out and disappointments were all in my head! My boss was so supportive of the boundaries I had to draw around my “free” time and respected me for being upfront and realistic about how much extra time I had to devote to tasks. We now are more conscious to plan ahead when there is a need for me to spend extra time on a project and I feel more productive and efficient because I have drawn boundaries around the time I am spending on that job v. my coaching practice.
Personal commitments outside of work have also been hard for me to say no to. Since my kids were babies I have dipped my foot (at times a little too deep) into the volunteer pool. And when it came to social commitments I had serious FOMO (fear of missing out) so I said yes to everything! I had gotten to a point where I wasn’t giving anything or anyone the attention they truly deserved. And even worse, I was starting to resent volunteer commitments and dread certain social interactions .
I felt frustrated, annoyed and tired! I knew I needed to restructure how I was spending my time and ultimately I had to decide what I wanted to say yes to so I could know what I should say no to!
After a little soul searching I decided I would finish out certain commitments but politely let someone else take over those things that were no longer a fit for me so I could focus more quality time on the things that did fit. I also stopped saying yes to social events that felt like obligations rather than gifts of time with friends and family. I definitely still had that pukey feeling that I was letting people down but the most remarkable thing happened.
And while I am sure there were some people with their panties in a bunch that I walked away from certain things, the overwhelming reaction I got from my fellow moms was “good for you!” I even had an acquaintance tell me that when she saw me setting boundaries around what I do and do not have the ability to be involved in, it helped her to do the same!
I am happier now and I can actually give people and activities the attention and joy they require because I have stopped saying yes to everything. The takeaway – when you say no to something you open up space to say yes to something else ... even if that thing is a greater sense of calm and fulfillment! Figure out what fits for YOU in YOUR LIFE and do more of that!
I had a check in with one of my coaching clients yesterday and had a total ah-ha moment! I am so proud of her for the work she is doing to both grow her business and also to be more present and connected with her family. I can't share with you the specifics of our conversation (because you know, confidentiality) but I can share with you the lesson I learned from her this week!
In a nutshell the lesson was the importance of self-awareness! Self-awareness is about understanding your own needs, desires, emotions, reactions, failings, habits, and everything else that makes you tick. When you have self-awareness you can better see the effect your thoughts, emotions, words, and behavior have on your life and you can then choose to take control and make any needed changes. The more self-aware you are, the better your ability to make choices and adapt to life changes in a way that works for you.
I was (and still am) so proud of my client for her ability to know what she needed this past week to feel successful and the fact that she adjusted her priorities for the week to fit her needs. Our conversation got me thinking about things I may need to adjust to feel more successful. I have done a LOT of introspection the past few years to become more self-aware but sometimes I slip out of the practice and need to get back to basics. My clients awesome level of self-awareness made me realize I have slipped lately.
So ... here's what I did. I took some time to think about all the different aspects of my life (my family and how connected and present I am with my kids, my coaching business, my career in general, my self-care and fitness, etc.) and I asked myself these questions:
I am so thankful to my client for the reminder that a dose of self-awareness was what I needed this week too! You learn something every day if you pay attention!
I love being a mom and I love my kids more than life but let’s be honest here, being a parent is freaking hard! Our kids can sometimes have days where they make our lives and the lives of everyone around them holy hell! They can be difficult, make you cry and create more stress and worry than you know how to deal with. But even on those hellish days when you earn your grey hair, who do you see when you watch them peacefully sleeping at night? Do you see a failure not worthy of your love or effort? Or do you see the wonderful kid that is in there … even if she hides sometimes? I am guessing that you still see the amazing person your kid is! You may also be planning a parenting strategy change to deal with behavior or attitude or whatever … but you look at your kids and you know they are worthy, lovable and amazing people!
What if we were able to look at ourselves the same way?
Like on those bad days when we feel like we're failing and that we suck at life and motherhood. Or on those days where we look in the mirror and berate ourselves for the extra pudge we may carry, or the size of our nose or how our pants don’t fit the way they use to. Or the times when we are overwhelmed and feel like our schedules and lives are spinning out of control and we aren’t the woman, mother, wife, friend or colleague we want to be.
Imagine how much better you would feel if you could look at yourself at the end of the day like you do your kids. You would see the good, bad, and ugly (and maybe you’d strategize in a constructive and loving way to make changes if you need to) but you would still love yourself, feel worthy and know you are capable of great things.
So how do you get there? This is what I try and do:
The next time you have negative self-talk do yourself a favor and ask “would I judge and criticize my kids this way?” If the answer is no … stop doing it to yourself. You deserve better!
Yesterday I got an email from a wonderful life and business coach I work with and it got my wheels turning. The premise of the email was to let January (and anything you may not have gotten done) go, and move onto February by taking small intentional steps towards your goals to gain momentum. She specifically said not to focus on WHY it didn’t get done, but to forgive yourself and move on. So of course I thought too much about WHY I haven’t made as much progress as I had planned in January.
I have to admit that January – and if I am honest the last few months – have been kind of heavy for me. The political and social climate in our country has gotten to a place that is depressing and discouraging for so many reasons and it is really weighing on me. Kindness and equality matter a great deal to me. I believe that as human beings we have a responsibility to look out for each other and treat those around us with respect and dignity.
And I am really struggling with the policies and rhetoric that are having very real and hurtful effects on people. I have made my voice louder to do what I can to try and effect change as well as to stand up when I see disrespect and bigotry. But all of these feelings have also made me wonder if putting time into growing my business is worthwhile right now because compared to all the work that needs to be done in our country, growing my business feels insignificant.
So, like I often do, I started to overthink on this. But instead of stress induced overthinking, I was processing what I want my business to look like in this changing and fragile world of ours and how I can make an impact by doing this work I love. I came up with the following reasons why growing my business is NOT an insignificant endeavor:
If you are feeling overwhelmed and heavy because of our current political and social climate like I am (or if you are just feeling overwhelmed and/or heavy in general) take stock of your WHY! Why are your goals important to you? What kind of impact can achieving them have on your life and the lives of those you love? How can achieving these goals help you live more of the life you want to live and why is that important to you?
Working on your own personal development and following your passions is not insignificant. Make an impact … we all have the power to do that!
I admit, I LOVE my to-do list! Most nights before I go to bed I think through what needs to be done the next day (or within the next couple of days) and I either write it out or email myself my list of tasks for the next day. It helps me feel organized and stay on top of the mountain of “stuff” I have to do to keep my house running with some semblance of sanity! I even have a separate list for work that stays on my desk. I break each big project or goal into small tasks and crossing off those tasks as they are completed gives me total joy!
But as much as I love a good to-do list, at times I get too caught up in all I have TO DO, and it can feel like an insurmountable pile of work! And if I get overwhelmed with all that there is to get done I can get paralyzed and actually not get anything done at all!! Can you feel me?
In search of a solution for the overwhelm, I read an article recently about planning breaks. You read that right, like literally making a “break-list” the same way you make a to-do list and when you do the things on your break list cross them off! Sounds easy enough but how can a break list actually help?
Break lists can create more awareness of the things that help you relax and recharge. Just as your to-do list helps you stay on top of the tasks you need to complete, a break list can help you recognize all of the ways you like to relax and recharge. My break list may include things like go for a walk, have coffee with a friend, watch my favorite TV show, go to a yoga class or plan a family vacation. These are all things that help me relax, recharge and be ready to do more! The important thing is making sure your list includes things that help you relax and recharge in a meaningful way so that when you get back to your to-do list you are ready to be productive. Your list should include things that give you an actual break, not that focus on getting stuff done for others.
Break lists create awareness of how you are spending your time. A break list can help you keep track of how often you are (or are not) taking time to relax and recharge. Just like you cross things off of a to-do list, you cross things off of a break list so you can become aware of how often you are taking a break and which activities you are choosing to do. Awareness is actually a super important, and typically overlooked, step to take when you are trying to be more productive and feel more fulfilled. Creating both to-do lists and breaks lists are easy ways to become more aware of how you are spending your time and which activities help you recharge.
Planned breaks help avoid burnout. You can take the awareness you gained form creating a break list and actually start to schedule these breaks into your day. I know when I take the time and purposefully work break time into my day (like a walk or 30 minutes to read) I find myself to be more productive, happy and relaxed throughout my day. Taking some time, even if it’s at the end of the day and it’s only for 10 minutes, to connect with the things and people that help me feel recharged is a gift I give myself (and in all honesty my hubby and kids too because I am much nicer!!)
Try it out and let me know if it works for you!
I recently did a search for articles/blogs/whatever on finding greater life balance as a mom and I came across a ton of strategies for time management, planning ahead, being organized and delegating (including “involving dad and the kids in household duties” because you know that's our job too!). But let’s be real here, these “strategies” may help your life LOOK more balanced, but will you FEEL balanced?
What if we – as busy moms – changed the way we define life balance? What if we stopped trying to fit it all in and instead focused more time on the core things that bring us and our families the most joy?
As a life coach and a mom myself I talk with a lot of mothers. When we talk about life balance we don’t talk about what their schedule looks like but rather what their life feels like. Do they feel out of whack, pulled in a million directions and sometimes lost in the shuffle? Or do they feel happy, fulfilled and like they have meaningful relationships despite the fact that their lives are really, really (sometimes insanely) busy?
For me, life balance does not mean each task gets equal amount of time and attention but rather it’s that feeling that comes from being intentional about what you choose to devote your time to, and ensuring that those things fill your proverbial cup. It does not mean you won’t be busy or that you won’t have days where you feel overwhelmed because you are juggling a lot of balls. But, it does mean that you will have a greater sense of fulfillment in
your life because you intentionally CHOSE which balls to juggle and how many of them you have in the air!
I know what you are thinking, easier said than done, right? I thought that at first too to be honest and it took me a while to embrace this whole notion. But after some practice – and a bit of hindsight – I saw that when I take the time to define my priorities (I’m talking deeper than just “my family is my priority”), am aware (honestly) of the things I do spend my time on, then do the work of drawing boundaries, asking for help and letting go – I feel so much calmer and happier! And to me THAT is balance!
If you are ready to dive a little deeper into this yourself, my guide to Choosing Balance walks you through the self-reflection necessary to help you find balance on your own terms. Sign up to receive your free copy here.
Cheers to living your Life on Purpose,
Hi, I'm Tina! Life Coach, Mom and Lawyer who loves small furry dogs and big glasses of wine and knows that increasing your self awareness and connecting with your purpose can be an interesting (and sometimes challenging) journey. That's why I'm here to help!!