Family life gets busy, there is always so much to get done and not enough time. While we can’t make more time we can choose how we spend it.
“You can do anything, but not everything” – David Allen
Think of a typical busy day in your family:
- What time is it? (am, afternoon, pm?)
- What are you doing? (getting kids out the door, homework, dinner?
- What are the kids doing? (playing up, on screen, sleepy, crying?)
- What are you thinking about? Maybe you are thinking about all the things you need to do at this particular time? Maybe your mind is racing to the next task you need to do? Maybe you think that the kids are being really annoying, unhelpful etc.
- How do you feel? Stressed, tired, frustrated, angry etc.
I am sure at this particular moment you are physically and mentally on the go, doing too much and thinking about everything that needs to be done, or what went wrong, or maybe worrying about the future to come.
The effects of this ‘full on all the time’ state:
- The HERE and NOW merely becomes a stepping stone to what is next in our life. We lose all the small precious moments in life.
- Our kids will sense that we are not ‘there / present’ and maybe start playing up to get some kind of attention, even if it is negative attention (and I am sure we are then willing to give them our full focus).
- Maybe your child starts feeling not worth your time and less important.
- We become mindless and disconnected from the here and now: and in danger of losing control of ourselves, our words and behaviour and letting our deep emotions (anger, frustration, stress etc.) run away with what we do and say, and how we do and say it. Before we know it our words / actions are on autopilot and we start shaming, blaming and criticising, which we later on regret.
- We have lost control of ourselves, the situation and lost touch with the parent we want and need to be.
- And actually we don’t gain any time by multi tasking, both mentally and physically. On the contrary, we end up having to fix what we have messed up by being too busy i.e. getting ride of our guilt, repair broken mug that we might have dropped, comfort a crying child etc.
- Awareness is the first step to change: so STOP and BREATHE before you do or say anything. Allow yourself a few moments to check in with yourself. Acknowledge and accept how you feel: stressed, overwhelmed, anger etc.
- Accepting does not mean that you have resigned yourself to a difficult situation, it merely means that you accept how things are right now, how you feel and what needs to be done.
- You might not still enjoy what’s happening, but don’t fight against it, just acknowledge and accept that this is how it is and how you feel right now.
So in stressful / busy moments give yourself a breathing space.
Stopping, breathing and checking in with yourself during a stressful moment will give you space to think more logically and rationally about the situation. You will start feeling calmer, more collected and be able to clarify your thoughts.
It helps you to engage with the rational part of your brain and stops you from going into autopilot and doing what you have always done – which may not bring about the best result.
Once you are calmer and more collected you can digest and mentally process what is going on, but more importantly, see what needs to be done (or not done) to get through this moment without negative scars and without leaving you with a deep sense of guilt or regret. You are less likely to make mistakes that you have to correct later on!
The busy moments (i.e. getting the kids out the door etc.) will not go away and might still be busy. But you CAN choose how you will feel in that moment. You don’t have to feel or act like a headless chicken or a screaming banshee. And remember, you don’t have to do two tasks at the same time – you can help your child and send that text afterwards! it help you to become a better listener (and less screaming) and actually focus on what really matters right now.
Give your mind space and you will find it much easier to stay in control under pressure.