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Inner Light Clarity
Re-write your story
What do you do When you Have too Much to do?
As a woman I took it on as a special challenge to excel in school and find myself a high-paying, secure, and equal-opportunity ‘real’ job. I worked hard in those early days to do just that. And I succeeded by that simplistic measure of success. The only problem with establishing myself in this way is that it was completely unrealistic based on what I also wanted- to be a Mother. I wanted to have a few kids, and in my ignorance I got myself into the primary earning position in the family, then subsequently into the primary nurturing role in the family. It was not pretty. But it felt possible. After all, I was showing up and getting all the things done everyday. The problem with that is (and for me- was), just because we are capable of doing the impossible doesn’t mean that we should. Allow me to elaborate.
My oldest son is now 11. I still remember the day that I found out I was going to be a Mother. Not sure how I would juggle work and all of the increased responsibilities at home, but with a supportive husband, I knew that we would make it work. We did, then I found out I was pregnant when he was 10 months old. Talk about exhaustion. That was the most difficult pregnancy of my life (and I will get into the stories of how my last two children joined me later on…). Between having a little guy that was not a great sleeper, keeping my home running, and growing a new baby- I was completely drained. I didn’t think I could possibly be more exhausted. Then he was born and… whew. I found out it was possible to be more exhausted. The next 2-3 years passed by in a complete blur.
Why is this relevant, you ask? And why should you feel bad for me just because of this situation I found myself in? Well, I don’t want you to sympathize, but rather empathize. What was it like for your family bringing new little ones into your life? How did you split roles and support one another within your family structure? Did the majority of the burden fall to one person? When one individual is at their capacity, does the rest fall onto the other adult, by default?
While this isn’t every woman’s story- I do think it is the story of many women who carry so much. When we are young and idealistic, we believe we can do anything. And we can! But then we take on a full time position as an add-on to our present full-time position, it is not sustainable.
In my experience, these are the key areas where I went wrong:
- Communication was lacking. Not just communication with my husband about how (logistically) we were going to juggle our full-time positions with starting a family, but also my internal communication and understanding about what I was getting myself into. I never stopped to think things through. I didn’t take sound advice when it was given because I was arrogant and knew I could do anything I set out to do.
- I was completely disconnected from reality. Women had fought so hard to have equal opportunities in the workplace, but socially, we continued to carry the burden of managing the household.
- Expectations. With woman historically at home with the kids, the housework, shopping, meal preparation, seasonal activities, and transportation to and from activities typically belonged to the woman in a heterosexual 2-parent household.
It is these expectations of gender roles within a family that ultimately broke me. I was doing all the things all the time and I was completely exhausted, drained, and overwhelmed. In fact, I didn’t realize I was broken until years and years later, when I lost my job. That is what is prompting this blog. Because I am no longer a novice Mother with little ones at home trying to endure her first season. I am now a Mother of 4 who has been through the ultimate grief journey, multiple moves, and I have really learned how to streamline my home responsibilities. Despite all that, when I lost my job last year, I still thought I had capacity to start up my own business in my ample spare time. Let me tell you, that was absolute delusion. Because, when I lost my job, I also lost my in-home childcare.
I had learned to delegate much of the cleaning, meal prep, and laundry to her. In my constant scramble, I had failed to realize how much this angel had been doing to keep the household on track. When she left and I (for the first time in my adult life) faced running a household as my primary task, I realized it was, in itself, a full-time job. Literally. I started to get into the groove. Having meals planned and ready. Reducing the number of trips to the store with intentional meal planning. Taking the time to teach the kids how to cook and clean so that they will be able to manage their own lives as young adults. Prioritizing myself and maintaining a consistent workout routine, meditating daily, a few minutes here and there to read and grow. And the same question kept coming up week after week… How in the world had I found time to sit at my computer for 6-8 hours everyday?
The fact of the matter is that I did what I needed to do. I remained committed to the things I had committed to and took on the overwhelm as my baseline feeling. I knew I had gotten myself into each and every choice that I had made so I didn’t feel like there was anyone else to blame for it. But, I certainly blamed myself! I was mad at myself and as a result I wasn’t very kind or compassionate to myself for the struggles that followed.
So what do we do when we find ourselves living a life that we have created, not by design, but is ours to live nonetheless? Can we just wake up one morning and say “I’m done with all this! I can’t go on. I’m tired, worn-out, and I’m getting off this hamster wheel.” Well, sure- you might be able to do that if you have someone to support you while the consequences of that approach play out…. But it is far more likely that you might first fall into a stage of resigned helplessness. This is when you realize that the things that need to get done to move your life into a new framework are just too much work. Because when you barely have the energy and capacity to get through another day, you certainly don’t have the energy and capacity to take on all the things you need to do to start facilitating a change. Unless…
What if there were something easy? What if there were some small steps that you could take to start to connect more with your purpose? What if you could free up some of the emotional energy that you spend on being exhausted and achieve a state of peace and equilibrium so that you can feel recharged and rested after a rare opportunity for some down-time? But wait! There are! Here are my top 5 ideas to facilitate positive change:
- Meditation Practice- even for just 5 minutes a day! Commit and prove to yourself you are worthy of having a couple of minutes of mindfulness (at the minimum)
- Small steps to improving diet and exercise- You will forever be constrained by what your physical body is capable of. Take care of it, and remember small improvements over time become profound changes.
- Surround yourself with positivity. There is nothing that can ruin a good day by being around a negative person. Reduce the access these types of people have to you. Not because you don’t care about them or like them, but because you love yourself so much.
- Learn to delegate: The fact is you just can’t do it all when ‘it all’ includes more time than you have hours in the day. Figure out what your most monotonous tasks are and find some help.
- Reprogram the subconscious mind: Everything can flow more easily when you do this. The habit building will become easier, the emotional overwhelm will be reduced, and you will know you are worthy of the hard work of making some changes.
I highly recommend doing as many of these five things as you can. If you aren’t sure how to do number 5, please reach out. This is literally what I do, and I would love to answer any questions you might have and support and encourage you.
And remember, just because you can do an impossible number of things in any given day doesn’t mean that you should. Try to slow down, assess your situation and start making some changes so that you can create a life that you love and fulfills your purpose.