For most of us, today’s lifestyle requires the pace of an Olympic runner. This seems to be especially true in the day of the life of a parent. I do not have children of my own, but I have been a close observer for thirty years of family members who do. I give them gold medals for keeping their sanity intact.
Before I became an aunt, which is when my real opportunity to become an observer began, I naïvely thought parents would be busiest when their children were little. But it seemed the older the kids became, the busier the parents became.
In retrospect, I believe I expected this because the younger children are, the less they can do for themselves. But this also means the younger children are, the less activities they are involved in. The kids in my family currently range from ages four to nineteen. Not only do some of them have a more hectic schedule then me, they have a more hectic schedule than their parents.
Kids over the age of four should come with their own driver. There is the regular shuttling to soccer practice, dance class, swimming practice, sewing school, cub scouts, track practice, karate, tutors, orthodontist appointments…and I know I am only naming a small handful. Many parents perform this magic act while juggling a career, too.
While I applaud the hectic lifestyle parents contend with, every person I know leads a very hectic lifestyle. I hear the same issue from folks coast to coast… Too much to accomplish and not enough time to accomplish it in.
We multi-task using cell phones, iPads, ipods, fax machines, email, text, laptops, Skype, how-to videos online, credit cards, bank cards, online banking and atm’s, all in a vain attempt to accomplish as much as we can as fast as we can.
But many times we fall short. It is in this “falling short” when we really feel the stress of our fast paced lives. If we could actually accomplish what we unrealistically and unfairly expect of ourselves in the time we allow, we would feel satisfied and gratified at the end of each day.
Instead, we feel more overwhelmed and at times, even disappointed in ourselves. In an already stressful, hectic life, these are not the emotions we need to be feeling in order to propel us toward accomplishing our goals and dreams.
Being an individual living with a disability requiring me to need assistance with 90% of my daily activities, I can get seriously frustrated about my own “daily to do list”. Especially when you consider accomplishing our larger goals hinges directly on accomplishing our smaller, daily goals.
So how can we better manage our goals and responsibilities and still keep our sanity? I have come up with a little diddy I use everyday called SPA. Simplify, Prioritize, Assistance. When I’m feeling harried, overwhelmed and seriously thinking of overdosing on mini cans of diet Pepsi’s, I do my best to remember SPA.
First I simplify. I take a minute to look at each item on my daily to – do list and see if I can make them easier by working smarter not harder by managing my time wisely. I concentrate on making the most of the time I allotted for each task so I can move to the next task quickly.
It’s also important to me to actually enjoy the task I’m doing, regardless how ordinary it is. I’ve found the best way to do this is focus. If I’m doing something mundane, like making a grocery list, but thinking about the cup of tea I promised myself as a reward for making the grocery list, I guarantee I won’t enjoy my cup of tea.
Instead, I’ll miss the enjoyment of my reward because I’ll be thinking about the next task I have to do. Lots of going through the motion and little of enjoying the experience, or even experiencing the experience!
Prioritize. What on your list can wait until later in the day or tomorrow, and what must get done today. You’ll find the sooner you accomplish the things you feel are most important, even if they are not your favorite things to do, the easier and more enjoyable the rest of your tasks become.
Assistance. Learn to recognize when you need help and then ask for it. If you possess the Superman or Wonder Woman complex and find this concept extremely difficult, think of a friend or family member who you would be happy to help out in a pinch and then ask away.
People need people, it’s that simple. Assure the person you ask for help to call upon you when they are in need. They may have a hard time asking for help, as well, and you initiating the request will show them it’s okay not to be able to do everything on their own.