Question–Ever heard someone spill off their insane to do list and you suddenly feel the need for a nap, simply by hearing it all? For real, I don’t get it. When do they sleep or eat and do they have to schedule in bathroom breaks? Does that go in their planner too? Look, if I’m stepping on toes, don’t feel bad because I’ve been there too. In this day and age, who hasn’t?
The thing is, many of us have an obsession with busyness. There’s a sense of pride when we gloat about what little free time we have. Even though we may be exhausted, there’s a bit of martyrdom coming through when we explain how little sleep we’re functioning on, the number of errands we have to run, our various volunteer endeavors, our kids’ numerous extra-curriculars, and how much we’ve accomplished around the house. Seriously, it’s like we’re earning a Girl Scout badge for productivity that comes at the cost of being tired and frazzled with a tank running on empty.
To some, the thought of having a free Saturday at home to relax and do whatever their heart desires is considered lazy and unproductive. But why? What is shameful in taking a nap if you need it? In binge watching Jack Ryan? In spending the day coloring with your kids or playing spades or enjoying the sunset from your porch? None of these things are bad but we guilt ourselves into thinking it’s a wasted day or a misuse of time. As if a day’s worth of shopping for things we don’t need, with money we may not have is a better use of time. See the irony…
Women are often our own worst critics in this arena. Most of us work. Many of us have kids. Most come home from work and take the primary role in helping the kids with homework, with their baths–you name it. Many prepare dinner for their family and clean up the mess. Before I go on, let me answer your question. Yes–microwaveable meals still count because someone has to wash the fork and glass. Duh!
Most women do the Christmas shopping and birthday party planning and ironing outfits and doing laundry and clipping nails and wiping butts and the list goes on and on. There is so much we have to do between our family, work, and home, that we have became a slave to our planners. To the chaos and hustle. To not having time to stop and just chill out and read that stinking book already! It’s only been sitting on our nightstand bookmarked on page 10 for the past year. Really?
How many of you actually make it a point to routinely do something with your girlfriends? To pick up the phone and
call text your best friend from high school, to go see the new chic flick, or to host a party for your friend’s 40th birthday? Been neglecting the girls lately? Look up, not those girls but literally? Maybe it’s time to schedule a spot in your planner for a good ole’ GNO, like once a month for starters.
After we’ve covered the fam, work, friends, and household duties, we’ve come to the unsurprising realization that there is only a tiny fraction of our day allotted to ourselves. Lord knows that if we actually have any type of self-care or relaxation at the end of our day, we can bet our bottom dollar that we’ve pushed our bedtime back to running on six hours of sleep, if we’re lucky. We get up the next morning exhausted and hit repeat. Sound familiar?
If you’re getting less than seven hours of sleep a night on a regular basis, this is no bueno! There’s a multitude of reasons why skimping on sleep is bad for your health so turn off the social media and get your butt to bed already! And I might just be talking to myself too right now too.
My question would be why do we overbook ourselves and our kids? Why do we think it’s okay to run ourselves to death when it’s making us physically and emotionally ill? When our kids are saying, “But mom, I just want to go home today. I’ve had something everyday this week and I don’t want to go to my ukulele lessons.” For real, folks. If your kid never learns to properly play the ukulele, how detrimental will this truly be to their future?
We’re instilling such a sense of urgency and time-crunching into our kids’ lives at such a young age, that it’s no wonder we are seeing a rise in childhood anxiety, chronic tummy aches, and headaches. They don’t have time to be kids anymore. Never mind the fact that so many of their parents are struggling with anxiety and/or depression. Many of us are in a constant state of overwhelm and stress. In case you haven’t noticed, kids pick up on our energy. They learn what they see, and it becomes their norm. Is our emotional state one that we’d like for our kids to inherit? If not, it’s time to do something about it.
Let’s face it. Many of us hold expectations for ourselves and our kids that are unreasonable. We know this is true, yet we still guilt ourselves because it’s the status quo and expected. On the days we aren’t able to cross off every item on our to do list, we often feel like a failure. Quick to forget the fact that we’ve completed 8 out of the 10 tasks in our planner for the day, but it’s never enough.
When we walk around day by day in a constant state of stress, it will take its toll. It may manifest as being moody or hormonal because obviously hormones get the blame for everything. Eyeroll…Okay, occasionally–yes that may be true, but really? Try a week a month and that’s more like it. Wink!
Our stress may come through as illness. It puts our adrenals in a perpetual state of overdrive with their fight or flight response. The difference is the saber-toothed tiger that our body thinks it’s protecting us from is actually a to do list a mile long that makes us overwhelmed and mentally exhausted before we even get started.
Chronic stress causes inflammation in the body. It’s no surprise the rise in autoimmune conditions is skyrocketing, and the overwhelming majority of these patients are women. There is definitely a hormonal factor that comes into play in autoimmunity, but how much of that can also be attributed to a lack of self care, running on fumes, and chronic stress? It catches up with us, ladies!
So now that I’ve beat us up pretty good, what are we going to do about it? For starters, stop thinking you’re a crappy parent if your child is only involved in one extracurricular activity a season. If your kid wants to play soccer, take dance and piano lessons and they truly enjoy it and so do you, by all means go for it! But if you’re signing them up for every activity that is being advertised in your community and they aren’t feeling it, do yourselves both a favor and stop it already. I don’t care if Susie Q’s kids do twenty activities a week. It’s not a competition so don’t fall victim to social pressures. You’re still a dang great parent so you do you and let your child determine what floats their boat when sign-ups roll around.
Volunteering can be a tricky one. The thing is, no one really wants to do it, and everyone feels too busy to do it. So here’s what happens. The same handful of people volunteer for everything and spread themselves way too thin because others won’t pick up the slack and do their part.
Here’s my take on volunteering for what it’s worth. If your child is involved in multiple activities between sports, church, clubs or whatever, you gotta step up at some point and give back when they’re begging for volunteers. We all have 24 hours in a day, and everyone is busy. You don’t have to volunteer for everything but find one or two things that you are capable of doing to take that burden off the other parent who continuously gets stuck doing everything out of guilt. This doesn’t just apply to child-related activities either, folks. If everyone gives back once in a while, we’re all on a level playing field and no one is getting dumped on. Added bonus–it feels good to give back! You get what you give in the world so it will come back to you in a positive way. Give it a try, and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
So loves, if you are feeling spread too thin these days, do yourself a favor and take a time out before I have to put you in a corner myself! Stop the crazy expectations we place on ourselves, our kids, and each other. Chillax every once in a while and make like Jimmy Buffet, even if you have to substitute your couch for the beach while sipping that pina colada. Cheers and until next time! xo, Christy