I know some of you may think I am nuts. Like how are you supposed to continuously juggle everything and be everything to everyone. For one thing, you do not have to be everything to everyone all the time. Sometimes you have to hone in on certain things and put others on the back burner to simmer for now based on where you are and who you are with.
For example, if you have a big project at work and you are currently there, focus on that! It is the squeaky wheel at the moment and your priorities have to be on that. After all, baking cupcakes for your kid's bake sale or picking up snacks for the soccer team are not the priority at the moment. Change gears when you leave work and focus on those things at that point. Sometimes you have to tune out other things to focus on the task at hand. However, keep in mind you still have those other things to come back to.
Some of the tools I have used and still use to keep myself on point are:
- Making lists and/or using a day planner (personal favorite is Franklin Covey...just from my many years working in the corporate world and needing to ensure I stayed on task and prioritized tasks). Basically, you list out the tasks you need to complete and then prioritize from there. Include in those tasks though time for you to recharge, you will thank yourself later for that.
- Take advantage of what normally would be down time. When getting a pedicure (one of my favorite things to do to relax), I might read up on stuff I need to study for a class (did I mention I am a student as well as a mom and working). Or I might read through the stuff I need to deal with to help one of my daughters with an upcoming school project. Or call/text friends that I have been remiss in talking to lately because of other things going on. Or of course update your blog/online diary. So many options. Basically still relaxing because you are not being pulled in five directions and someone else is pampering you as check off something from your to do list or simply reconnect with those you care about. The only things I generally will not do during that time are things that really stress me out. After all, I want to recharge while still being productive or social.
- Delegate things you do not have to do. I know single parents have a harder time with this, but I will tell you bonding with other single parents and other people who can empathize and you can trust can be helpful. I have gone so far as trade off duties with other parents. For example, the place I need to go pick up something for the soccer team is across town and the other parent will be there anyways and they have something they need from where I am at. I just offer to pick up or take on their errand if they will take care of mine. This has worked multiple times. Other options are trading babysitting services for something you hate doing or could not do on your own in a reasonable amount of time. Pretty much every parent I know can use free evening babysitting so they can have a date night or enjoy some me time. I did this once when I had moved (kids were little) and needed help getting my yard on track and knew I could not afford a professional. I knew a couple of single moms and a single dad who loved gardening. I watched their kids for an agreed number of evenings, etc in return for help with getting the stuff I could not do by myself in a reasonable amount of time done. Plus I provided a nice home cooked dinner when we were done. Win win for everyone!
- Learn to say NO! Politely of course! This is a hard one for me! But again you cannot be everything to everyone! It is okay to say no, especially if your platter (not a plate) is very full at the moment and you are feeling like you are treading water. Taking on one more task at that moment is not going to do anyone good, especially you and your family.