What struck me most powerfully was that ‘to do’ lists need to come from ‘to be’ lists. First I needed to know what was most important for me in my life, what were my priorities. When it came to mothering, I realised I wanted to be relaxed, stress-free, creative and fun. I observed that when I put too much into my day, when I was trying to do too much I became stressed and far more likely to get angry with the children.
Instead of Time Management being about getting more done in my day, it became about what will help me to be as relaxed and creative as possible. On a practical level it meant packing bags, lunches etc, the night before, not doing laundry in the morning, so that my morning had as few things to do as possible. It meant being realistic about how long things take to do with children. It’s a ten minute walk to the preschool – for me. This included pestering and prodding my daughter to walk faster and stop dawdling, with me getting more and more irritated that we’d be late. When I realised it was a twenty minute walk for her, allowing for her pace, for walking on fences and picking up leaves, then we all arrived at school feeling relaxed.
Rejuvenation is also key to keeping relaxed. Many of us are putting 80%, if not more of our time into our family. That level of care is not sustainable unless we also make rejuvenation a priority for ourselves. I suggest a zestful activity twice a week but if this is not going to be possible, once will suffice.
Most importantly, once you’ve planned a time for yourself, let your partner and kids know when it will occur and get their support. That time is carved out for you. Commit to it and see how it makes this work that is mothering, not just sustainable but a place of ideas, of meditative moments, of whimsy and a conversation with the world at large. J (next week I blog about a banghra dance party)