I was thinking about this the other day. When you become a parent you start to have time poverty. Time poverty is when you have a lack of time, free time, extra time, and down time. I’m pretty sure every parent talks about this or at least has had the thought, “what did I do with my time before we had kids? No, really, what did we do?”
I could name a lot of things I used to do, and and not one involves me in old paint spattered sweat pants running to Walgreens at 9:58pm on a Tuesday to get a tri-fold board that costs $45 because someone forgot they needed it, or in my case I forgot they told me they needed it.
My point here is not that life before kids was better, it was just simpler. It was easier. It was filled with lots of extra time. You also have a lot less mental stress. When you bring a life into this world or you are responsible for another person, you will never be the same, you will never stop worrying about that baby/child/teenager/adult/old lady until the day you die. It sounds dramatic, because it is and it’s also true. You don’t feel me? Then you probably aren’t a parent. (Which, BTW not being a parent is just fine.)
When you look back and compare your old life with your new life, it is quite evident that whatever in the heck you were doing with all of your free time in the day to day was fun, but nothing like what you are doing now. It’s crazy to think of how fast the change is. One day you are free to do whatever, whenever and after about 13 hours of labor or 24 hours or 6 years of infertility or 2 years of waiting to adopt you are instantly changed. I’m not talking about changed like you watched a Netflix documentary on how bad the meat industry is, I’m talking changed to your core, every ounce of your being and your heart will never be the same.
I want to talk about what happens after this change. After you become a mom in particular. You revolve your life around keeping this little angel(s) alive for the next 18 to life. You have this epiphany early on that whatever you used to do with your time is not as important as what you are doing now. You only get a window of childhood with them. Of course you are going to be in their lives forever, but you only get 18 years to teach them everything you want them to know and give them whatever experiences you deem necessary.
Becoming a mom can be a smooth natural role to come into or it can be really overwhelming. Some moms work full time, part time, from home, and some stay home. Some moms do this all on their own, while others have a “tribe” or a “village.” It’s all hard and it’s all important. I’m going to say it again for the moms who don’t think they are doing enough.
WHATEVER KIND OF MOM YOU ARE, IT IS ALL HARD AND IT IS ALL IMPORTANT.
So, with all of that said, let me get into what I really wanted to talk about today.
Can we all agree that we are all struggling at times trying to manage our jobs, hobbies, friends, partner/spouse, children, laundry, dreams, physical and mental wellbeing and try to stay sane and out of prison?
Then I have to ask ,why on Earth do we just keep piling on commitments?
Why do we pressure ourselves and other women and other moms to keep taking on more tasks?
Sign up for this, volunteer for that. It’s only once a week, a month, a year.
It’s like joining the Army for moms. One weekend a month, two weeks a year. And girl, THAT ADDS UP!
I’ve heard it all.
I’ve done it all.
I’ve quit it all.
All of the things I don’t want to be doing with my precious spare time anyway. Unfortunately, you can’t quit the laundry, dishes, working out, or putting kids to bed. Some things in life, you just have to do, but the rest, thats up to YOU!.
Before you message me or text your best friend to tell them how easy it must be for me, because of whatever excuse you’ve come up with as to why you aren’t going to be able to quit things like me, just stop. Seriously, check yourself and the guilt at the door. That’s BS and only hurting one person…. YOU!
You CAN quit things you don’t want to do with your time too. You can say NO. You can say no to traveling for the holidays. You can say no to going to your 5th cousin’s second wedding 6 hours away with 2 toddlers who hate car rides. You can say no to your friend Shelly who just lost 40 pounds on a program you don’t want to join. You can say no to your kids when they want you to do something right now and you are getting ready to read a book for 20 minutes alone in the bathtub. By book, I mean watching instagram stories about what people on the internet ate for lunch today. You can say no when someone tries to give you their old crap that you do not want. You can say no to your husband when he asks if you have the white towels washed.
As a mom, people are going to always want your time. It’s a privilege to be a mom. I really do feel that way, but it is YOUR job to take control of your time. As women, we are our own worst enemies with this. We do it to ourselves and we do it to our fellow gal pals. I’m going to shoot you straight NO ONE, no one is going to care about your time and your calendar and your life but YOU. Other people will suck you dry, and usually not on purpose, but they will take whatever you are willing to give.
Again, don’t forget this: YOU CAN SAY NO!
Saying no to someone is not offensive or mean or letting them down. It’s choosing your wellbeing and mental sanity. Heck I bet you can even say no to Gina, yep, even Gina. You know Gina, the OG of your elementary school, the one who is going to think you are terrible if you are a stay at home mom and don’t have your hand in the air to volunteer for the book fair. She’s the same one who is judging you for going to winery during the day or taking a sick day when you aren’t sick. She’s going to judge you, divorced mom, because you only have your kids part time, and that must be nice. She’s going to think Lisa should have plenty of time to make copies because she only has one kid, and is that even really a real parent? (BTW I don’t know a Gina , but there’s one in every crowd, probably two.)
It doesn’t matter who you are or what your situation is, there are people out there who are going to try to minimize what you have going on and insert their own agenda. You don’t need to feel bad when another over committed mama tries to push her stuff off on you and you stop that crap right there and shut it down. Maybe you telling her no will wake her up to the knowledge that she also can exfoliate off a few commitments.
I am a recovered over committer. I’ve been packing my schedule in my gorgeous agenda since I was 14 years old and got my first real job. Then I turned 16 and I could do more because I could drive and pretty soon it was just who I was. You got a problem, yo I’ll solve it. Need someone to join a team, a club, a committee? Me! Pick me! I was that girl, and then I became that woman and that mom that WAS doing it all. I was probably not doing much well, but I was checking those boxes baby!
I feel confident enough on the topic to talk about it with you, because I’ve been there and I have done a 180 in the last few years. I know there are a lot of you out there who are over committed too, hopefully you are reading this. You took on too much, and it didn’t happen over night. It started out small and pretty soon you are a snowball of micro commitments. You took on too many “little” and “easy” jobs and tasks for someone else and now its a full time job. So now you look at your list of commitments and you can’t figure out what is going to even make a big enough impact to quit. What do you come up with?
Nothing. Not one of those little things is going to make a big difference.
If this is you, I challenge you to look at this differently. I want you to make a really simple list. So simple you are going to say what is that going to do. I want you to list your top 5 priorities in your life. Really, what are they? When I did this task a few years back I almost laughed to myself, like I get to pick what I want to do? Yes you cotton headed ninny muggins you do!
I’ll share mine. They are really simple and pretty general. Don’t overcomplicate it.
- Me and My health-Mental and Physical (cue everyone dropping dead from a woman who has two children and a husband putting herself first)
- My Family- my husband and my kids
- My Business
- Having blank space on my calendar (yep this does exist!)
- Making memories with friends and family
As I said, pretty simple. So now, when someone asks you do to something or go to something that you don’t want to do, pull up that list in your mind and ask yourself:
Is this going to help me keep my priorities?
Is this going to prevent me from keeping my priorities in check?
In 2019 I decided my health was my #1 priority. Somehow in the last few years I let that slip through the cracks. So when I fill out my calendar for the week ahead, the first thing I do is book my workouts and write down what we’re doing for dinner. Then no matter what happens, my commitment to my own health comes first. (I know, I know, things will come up, and I am flexible, but I still try to move those appointments with myself and make it work.)
I”m going to tell you right now that I know a lot of you are already OUT. You aren’t ready to disappoint people, speak your truth, or put yourself first. It’s not always easy, but like all things, practice makes progress. You cannot do it all. Unless you are a meth mom (which can’t last forever either) You don’t have enough hours in the day to be everything to everyone.
Long story Long…
You become a parent, you realize how precious time is and the, even knowing what you know, you slowly suck up every spare moment of your life committing to other people and things that don’t serve you and your greater goals in life.
People!!!! Sometimes MORE is LESS.
huh, you say?
More commitments = less free time.
More commitments = less time to enjoy meals with your family.
More saying yes to Gina = less time to make it to the gym.
More people pleasing = less time for yourself.
More commitments = less dealing with our actual problems in life. (Re-read this one. I have fallen victim to this!)
More getting sucked into things you hate = less saying yes to getting impromptu snow cones on a Monday night with your precious babies.
More is not always More Ladies, unless it’s mo money, because we all know mo money = mo problems.
Quit saying yes to everything. You DON’T have to. When you say yes to something that isn’t aligned with your priorities, you are saying NO to something else, which is most likely yourself.
You are important. SO important. The things that you want to do with your time are also important. How you spend your days ends up being how you spent your life.
Take care of yourself, and do something for yourself, even if it is pretending to fold laundry alone in your mudroom while eating a few thin mints.