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I’m not getting it all done
Episode 147: If only I had more TIME
I’m not getting it all done!
I have 4 school aged kids, 2 dogs, a part time job, a partner and a house. I am blessed and grateful for this full and busy life…BUT…it frustrates me that no matter how much I accomplish, I am ALWAYS BEHIND. I keep forgetting things, losing things, no matter how fast I move, I feel like always chasing my tail. The idea that I can master motherhood is falling fast.
I just want to knock out my to-do list so I can relax but it never happens, there is always more to get done. I go to bed thinking, “If I just had more time…”
It’s starting to impact my self confidence. My family notices I’m not the happy parent I used to be when the kids were little. They keep offering to give me massages or telling me to take breaks, but if I do, more work will pile up. It takes a lot of logistics to get my 4 duckies all moving in one direction. There’s no time for wandering off (please don’t lecture me about overscheduling my children) but I am stressed out and something’s gotta change.
Stuck on the hamster wheel Hannah
Parent Educator Answer
Hardworking, Supermom Hannah! My heart goes out to you because I have certainly been where you are and so many other moms are right there with you right now. I promise not to judge or lecture you because I have no idea how many activities are right for you or your kids. Everyone is different and I trust you are making the decisions that are right for you.
Your question is one of the most common kryptonites for Supermoms. Tackling INVISIBLE problems is my specialty. You aren’t DOING anything wrong, but the emotional energy you are in from dawn to dusk is exhausting.
We can call this time anxiety, like I did in episode 38.
We can talk about tips and tricks for prioritizing the to-do list but I did that in episode 129.
We can talk about a resistance to relaxation but I covered that in episode 69.
Time anxiety is so insidious and a leading cause of tired Supermoms, it’s worth talking about it in a new way. Getting stuck on the productivity hamster wheel robs you of your ability to ENJOY this precious time of raising your beautiful kids.
Let’s compare our relationships with time, to a romantic relationship. Does your relationship with time seem balanced? Mutually supportive? Uplifting and energizing?
Not really. In this example it’s more like Hannah is stalking her ex.
Think of time as your ex boyfriend, hiding from you, dodging your calls, pretending not to see you, and you are hunting it down, NEEDING it back! You can’t look at dating anyone else, you are hyper focused on getting this illusive hottie back to where your relationship last felt good.
Hannah’s BRAIN is stuck on this hamster wheel of trying to get all her work done so she can finally relax. It seems like the only way to feel at peace is to cross items off your to-do list. Similar to someone who thinks their ex is the ONLY love they will ever need or want and no one else will ever fulfill them.
Can you see that YOU are NOT the problem?
Your TO-DO LIST is not the problem.
TIME is not the problem.
The problem is the relationship you have with time is unbalanced.
A healthy relationship with time looks similar to a healthy romantic relationship.
Giving and Receiving
Kind, gentle and compassionate
Understanding and accepting of one another’s limitations.
Most people think of time as unlimited, and a to-do list as finite. This perception increases feelings of inadequacy, frustration, and disappointment when we don’t get everything done. Your sentence “no matter how much I accomplish, I am ALWAYS BEHIND” is a sentence that’s going to make anyone feel crappy. Imagine your child goes out for basketball and you tell her, “No matter how much you accomplish, you’ll always be behind.” It’s an awful thing to hear when you are working your butt off on a daily basis.
You’ll find a more peaceful relationship with time if you flip it. TIME is finite, and the TO-DO list is infinite. You might be thinking, “wait a second, Torie, thinking that time is limited and I have an endless amount of tasks is way MORE stressful! That is a TERRIBLE thought to think!”
We have a limited amount of time here on Earth. Our kids are young and under our roofs for such a short period of time. We only have 24 hours in a day and 60 minutes in each hour. Time is finite. Once we can accept that it calls us to a higher place. We start thinking about what’s really important. If I only have 24 hours in a day, and 8 are spent sleeping, that leaves 16 hours each day to dedicate towards the things I VALUE. Do I really want to be scrolling through my phone during those valuable hours? Do I really want to feel frustrated and stressed from dawn to dusk, or is there another emotion I’d like to feel instead? Is the highest use of these valuable hours to ‘get everything done’ or is there another perspective worth adopting?
The to-do list, however, is infinite. The kids get older and more gets added. One likes music, the other likes sports, your animal lover can’t have enough animals around the house. You want them to have relationships with family, friends, nature and culture. There’s always more to learn, more to celebrate, more to clean, more to plan and do. There is no end to the amount of things you can add to your to-do list.
Just because TIME is invisible, we think there is no end to it.
To-do lists are visible, so we think they are finite.
Flip them around and it will improve your relationship with time.
Think of TIME like your closet, and the items on your to-do list are the clothes in your closet. If you jam it full of stuff, it makes sense you would lose things and forget you had them. But that doesn’t mean you are failing at motherhood!
There is an endless amount of clothing in the world you could bring home and stuff in your closet. You have the power to choose, curate, rotate your winter/summer clothes, keep the essentials and enjoy the items you love most. Some people like the abundant feeling of a full with plenty of choices. Some people enjoy the simplicity of a pared down minimalist closet. You get to decide what is right for you, but let’s work on not FIGHTING with the closet or the clothes that are in it.
You’ve got this situation that many moms in the trenches face called “Too much to do, not enough time to do it.” You are feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, and frustrated about this fact. But let’s imagine you can choose from a buffet table of emotions. How do you want to feel about the fact that you have more to do than time to do it? This is where your control lies. You can choose how you’d like to feel about your overstuffed closet known as TIME. Do you want to feel peaceful? Empowered? Motivated? Neutral or matter of fact?
The most important thing is to take back your power. When we feel like getting through the to-do list is the only way to relax, and we never get through it, it feels like we have no power. You giving away our ability to feel at peace whenever we want. Choosing how you want to feel and focusing on that emotion helps us create a new relationship with time.
Life Coaching Answer: What gets in our way from creating a more balanced, peaceful relationship with time? A fear of future emotions.
We create stress in the present by worrying about feeling a negative emotion in the future.
We are afraid to take a break for fear of feeling even more stressed out later.
We are afraid to drop a ball because we might feel judged by other moms, teachers, coaches, our kids or partners.
We are afraid to fall behind because the voice in our head will tell us we are failing at motherhood and we will believe it.
This fear of future emotions causes us to feel negative emotions now.
There are two ways to deal with this.
First is to learn how to process emotions. To move emotions through you in a healthy way so they don’t eat you alive. It takes a little time and practice but it is well worth the journey.
The thing we fear most is a negative emotion. We don’t want our kids to die because we don’t want to be grief stricken. We don’t want to take breaks from our busy lives because we fear feeling anxious, overwhelmed, embarrassed, or ashamed.
When you get good at feeling feelings, there is nothing to be afraid of because you trust yourself to handle any emotion that comes your way. A feeling shows up and you say hello to it. Close your eyes, give yourself 90 seconds to process it in the body, and then it moves on. Allowing yourself to feel anxiety and overwhelm without resisting them, will save you so much time, energy and hassle. When we RESIST emotions they can last forever, but feeling them is quick and relatively painless.
The second way to deal with this is to recognize that the reason we imagine feeling so terrible in the future is because we know what we are going to say to ourselves, about ourselves.
You don’t want your kids to die because you don’t want to feel despair. But even WORSE is when you are sad and grieving and a voice comes in to say, “I told you shouldn’t have let him eat that grape, or drive that car.” Or something really nasty like, “A good mom would’ve insisted on getting a second opinion.” That inner mean girl is who we ultimately fear.
If you were to build a more peaceful relationship with time, that inner mean girl may come in and tell you, “You are lazy. You are falling behind. You aren’t cut out for this. You don’t have time to relax because there is work to be done.” This inner mean girl is relentless. She is the cause of the shame, guilt, embarrassment, or despair. But guess who determines what that inner mean girl says to us inside our heads? WE DO! It might not seem like it, but learning to manage our minds is another worthwhile skill to have in your pocket to make life easier and more enjoyable.
Even when other people judge us, we still get decide what we say to ourselves about ourselves.
Supermom Kryptonite – Trying to OPTIMIZE your day.
You’ve got a busy life with a lot going on so it makes sense you would want to optimize your time but trying to maximize every day is exhausting. Many moms who struggle with time anxiety strive everyday to spend their time in the most optimal way. It sounds lovely but it’s a kryptonite because when we DON’T meet our own high expectations, we feel defeated. We either optimize our time which temporarily silences the mean girl voice, (no high fives or celebrations mind you!) or we feel behind, stressed, and have to work even harder to quiet that inner mean girl voice. Hannah’s sentence “The idea that I can master motherhood is falling fast.” clued me in to some unconscious maximizing she might be doing. Either I’m MASTERING MOTHERHOOD or I’m…..what…..FAILING? This black and white thinking is exhausting and creates a toxic relationship with time.
Supermom Power Boost – It’s not all on you
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you think everything is on you. It’s up to you to get your duckies moving in a line, it’s your responsibility to sign field trip forms, plan birthday parties, and bring snacks to softball games. Your job, house, pet care, sporting events, children’s schooling, safety, clothing, hygiene, social life, sleep, all seems like it’s all on your shoulders. It’s a lot and I get it, but it’s not ALL on you.
You are co-creating this life. There is a team helping you move your duckies forward. God or The Universe is helping you get things done. Games get rained out, kids get sick, lights turn green, and kids get good grades. Sometimes, without any effort on your part, things work out.
You are also co-creating with your kids. Sometimes, when you aren’t looking, kids become more capable. They bathe themselves and brush their own teeth. They pour their own cereal for breakfast and learn to use a microwave. Sometimes they complain so loudly and continuously about gymnastics that you decide it’s not worth it. Your kids are helping you create this life.
Pick a thought that feels good next time you are stressed about not getting it all done.
I am being guided.
I am co-creating this life.
This is the life I wanted. I have a full and busy life and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
This is what I’m meant to be doing.
It wasn’t a perfect day and that’s ok.
I can only do what I can do.
I am open to receiving whatever the Universe delivers.
I am living aligned with my values.
Whatever happens is for my best and highest good.
Quotes by Julie Morgenstern:
“Insisting on doing everything yourself burdens you and prevents others from being valued and needed.”
“We all have different interests, skill sets, concentration cycles and energy levels. The key is to find out how long it really takes you to do the things you need to do and move away from wishful thinking.”