I want to open up a bit and talk to you about a few things. After the webinar 2 weeks ago, I was completely spent. Like So. Done. With. Everything. It wasn’t the webinar itself – that was great (aside from some tech glitches) – it was everything leading up to the webinar.
It all started back in April.
We had just returned from a trip to Los Angeles and on that trip we decided we were finally going to take the plunge and move there this year (my husband works in film). It was really exciting but also really scary and overwhelming. We have lived in beautiful NC for over 5 years and it’s been nothing short of wonderful with our amazing community and comfortable lifestyle. Prepping and organizing to pick up our life and move across the country with a toddler and leaving all that we love ain’t no small task. Not to mention the emotional energy of telling all of our close friends and family. Initially we were planning to leave in July.
At the same time I was working extremely hard to get some momentum in Joyful Parenting by speaking on a podcast, prepping for and hosting a webinar, talking with potential clients, updating my program, getting contracts updated – you know, all that business-y stuff.
On top of that I was trying to keep house, pay bills, run errands, take care of admin stuff around the house aaaannnnndd be a present and engaged mom and wife.
UGH. JUST. UGH.
Now, I am a fairly high capacity person. I like to DO things and keep moderately busy. But even for someone who likes to do a lot – this way WAY too much. (Obviously.) From a distance I can totally see that now. But when I was in the thick of it all and things weren’t working out I felt like I was just missing something about the way I was scheduling everything and maaaaybe if I got just this ONE more thing done, the stress would melt away and things would get better. As if in some universe, if I were a little more organized, a little more disciplined and everything went perfectly according to plan I should be able to do everything that I put on my plate.
Have you ever felt that?
In my head I knew it was too much and that getting “just one more thing done” wouldn’t fix my problem at all. But somehow I was still not convinced. So I kept pushing myself and scheduling things ever so precisely. I felt like EVERYTHING was important and EVERYTHING needed to happen NOW.
It got to the point where one day Asher took only a 30 minute nap instead of his usual 2hr nap and I completely snapped. I was tired. I was stressed. And I was a crying mess. My husband actually came home from work that day just to give me a break and help me chill out.
It was that day that I realized the hole I had dug myself into. The fact that one missed nap could throw me into such a tailspin meant that there was something very wrong and it was mainly my fault for allowing my stress levels to get this bad.
I wasn’t enjoying most of what I was doing and had grown more and more resistant to even the tiniest of tasks (like sending an email), that used to be no big deal.
This is not the first time I’ve experienced something like this where I put too much pressure on myself then get so over stressed about it. It’s actually something I’ve been quite aware of about myself for years and have very actively been working on.
What tends to cause this situation for me is two things. One, taking on too much responsibility for situations in our life where I really could and should be sharing the load and asking for help (or just not doing it at all). And two, deep down feeling like I am not enough and like I need to prove myself to my inner critic.
In this situation I had taken the bulk of the responsibility for our move on myself and I felt like I needed to meet this unreachable standard of being super-boss-mom. Not fun.
Feeling overly responsibly as well as feeling like you are not enough is a potent cocktail that can lead to making stress-inducing decisions.
So what did I do about it?
Well first, I recognized that it was my responsibility to communicate my needs and boundaries and to take care of myself and my stress levels.
Then, I talked with my husband about pushing our moving date back to September. After about an hour or so one evening of weighing pros and cons and sharing our perspectives and feelings about it all we came to an agreement that September was going to be the best for all of us, but especially for me. And it was OKAY that this decision was made mostly for me.
Then, I opened up my task calendar (I use Asana to manage all my To-Do’s for both life and business) and deleted EVERYTHING that was not absolutely ESSENTIAL for the next 10 days. As in our life would go into a tailspin if I didn’t do that thing. Of course, I talked with my husband about this first to give him a heads up that I was going to take some space to process, refresh and reset for the next 1-2 weeks and he was on-board.
After that, I deleted Instagram from my phone. I love Instagram. It’s the only social media platform I really enjoy, but often times it’s a time suck and a comparison trap and I KNEW I needed to be hearing my own inner voice over the next 1-2 weeks and not what everyone else was saying. So I deliberately tuned as many non-essential voices out as I could.
Finally, I allowed myself space to journal, think, be honest with myself and my husband about how I felt about certain things, re-evaluated personal boundaries and needs, and simply took time to slow down, enjoy life and become more aware of what things bring me pleasure and peace and what things add stress.
What did I get out of this time and space?
One super important thing I got out of this time and space I created for myself was peace. I don’t have a million things buzzing in my head now. I am thinking more clearly and my heart doesn’t feel anxious and on edge. As a result I am much more calm when dealing with my very active toddler. I’m also just happier – which is a huge win in my book.
Another key thing I got was clarity. I had filled my mind, calendar and lists with so many things that I could no longer see the path I am trying to walk. I was getting distracted by the mini fires on my journey (many of which I created myself) instead of keeping my eye fixed on the prize (my ultimate big picture goals in life). It’s not to say I was a complete hot mess all this time. There were many great days and weeks. But I was not at my best for far too long and I was feeling it.
The final thing I want to share about what I got from these past 2 weeks is feeling more solid and grounded. By closing out the other voices, I could hear my own so much more clearly and that has lead me to say yes to the right things each day and no to the right things and put up loving boundaries where needed without feeling guilt.
So if you are resonating with anything I’ve written and want to know what can you do – here’s my two cents:
First, cut out the non-essentials in your life for AT LEAST 3 days, if not a whole week. This means say no to helping your neighbor with their garden, to watching your friend’s kids, to doing that extra load of laundry or getting ahead on the basement project – you get the idea. Just do the BARE MINIMUM and CHOOSE to not feel bad about it at all.
Second, look at areas of your life where you find yourself comparing yourself, feeling “less than” or unable to really hear your own thoughts and opinions. Cut those things out for a bit. Maybe it’s social media. Maybe it’s watching a certain show with a really pretty actress. Maybe it’s hanging out with your really opinionated friend. You know what you need deep down – tap into that.
Finally, commit to some one-on-one time with your journal or a blank document on the computer and ask yourself the big questions – what do I really want in life right now? what’s most important to me? How do I really want to be spending my free time? What brings me joy? What doesn’t? And how can I re-align my life to reflect these things?
This process has been super helpful for me. I’m sure I will do it again soon just because it was so great! I hope that if you are going through a stressful time that you, number one, know that you are not alone. And, number two, know that you CAN turn the ship around – you just need to give yourself some space. And even if it feels completely counter productive, I promise you, it’s not.
So here’s to taking a little more rest and making a little more space in our lives for us! Let me know if any of this resonated with you or if you found anything particularly helpful.