As moms, we think we are (or we try to be) Superwoman. It’s great for a while, but when we crash…. Look out! Sometimes, the only solution is to quit.
Before you start thinking back to your grade school days when quitting was for “losers,” let me just say that quitting isn’t always a bad thing. It may not be your ideal way to handle situations, but there comes a time when it may be your only option for staying sane.
Last month, I was so overwhelmed by life (I was trying to “take control of my spending,” work on a writing challenge, volunteer at my son’s school, prepare food for the farm, schedule playdates and activities….the list goes on) all while still living my day to day life. My daughter and I kept getting sick and I wasn’t doing anything as well as I could have. It was time. to. quit.
Sometimes life gets in the way and you may feel overwhelmed. When you’re juggling a million balls and they start hitting you in the head, it may be time to start making some difficult decisions.
Something’s Gotta Give
What can you cut? I know everything seems important in the moment, but if you’re scheduled to be two (or more) places at the same time, it’s just not possible. There are only so many hours in the day, and while the other mommies may seem to be juggling better than you, remember that your sanity (and the sanity of your loved ones who have to put up with you) comes first.
Start by thinking about your priorities. Make a list if it helps. What is most important to you? What will be most important in three, five, or even ten years? For me, it’s my family. Will my kids remember in ten years that I skipped the dusting one week? No, but they will remember if I attended their “lunch with a loved one” at school. If something won’t be important in three years, chances are that it’s not that important right now, either.
Streamline and Automate
Clearly, the groceries you bought this week won’t be important in three years, but you still need to eat. Figure out how you can streamline the necessary but unmemorable tasks, like grocery shopping. Can you automate anything, like buying household products through a monthly Subscribe & Save program or set up automatic bill pay? After that, cut whatever isn’t necessary or important in the long term.
Just Say “No!”
You may need to say no to something, or even to yourself. Sometimes I think it’s hardest to say no to yourself. You want to do it all, and everything is at the top of your list. If you have a difficult time saying no to others, start practicing. I’ve struggled with this for years because I don’t want to disappoint anyone. I say yes to everything, even things that I can’t possibly do, because everything sounds like such a great idea. In the end, I’m burnt out, cranky, and no one wants me around anyway!
Start committing to only the things you truly want to do. Practice saying no to everything else. You don’t even have to give an excuse (something I’ve learned over time). A simple (but sweet) “no” is perfectly acceptable. I promise that it gets easier over time.
Create a Plan
Once you’ve set priorities, streamlined your activities as much as possible, and only said yes to the important and necessary things, you’ll need to plan and get organized. If I don’t have something written down in my planner or scheduled (with a reminder) in my phone, it isn’t going to happen. I’ve found that missing, showing up (ridiculously) late, or forgetting about activities is even more stressful than actually going to something that I didn’t want to do. Make sure that your “yes” is a “yes,” and then create a plan to make it happen.
Sometimes, you need to take a step back and reevaluate your activities. If your activities aren’t helping you reach your goals, or if they’re stressing you out, you may need to quit. It’ll be ok!
It’s impossible to sustain a break-neck pace for a long time. Marathoners don’t run at the same pace as sprinters. There’s a reason for that! Slow and steady wins the (long) race. The quitting police won’t come knocking on your door. Only you can determine if an activity is really necessary, regardless of how difficult the decision may be.