I almost pulled a classic Susie move a couple days ago.
But I caught myself.
You may have read that I joined the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge for Lent.
I’m still on track with that. (Woo hoo!)
You may have also read the post I wrote last summer where I declared the 2016 – 2017 school year to be the Year of No.
That declaration was also about simplifying. But it was more of a decluttering of intangible things that are making my life chaotic.
As hard as it is to keep the physical stuff under control, I think the stuff that isn’t actually stuff is even harder to maintain.
I am so accustomed to just automatically saying yes to things that saying no is a challenge.
And I know it’s not just me.
Why is this such a challenge for so many moms? Why is saying no so hard???
Why do we repeatedly overload ourselves with commitments and obligations and activities?
Is it because we are shoulding on ourselves? We should be able to handle it? It shouldn’t be that hard?
Whatever the reason, it’s stupid.
Because you know what?
Adding all these extra things into my life pretty much never makes me happier.
Being able to say I am doing fifteen things simultaneously doesn’t add to the quality of my life. It takes away from it.
It makes me an exhausted, stressed out, snappy, impatient bitch!
Taking on any and every single activity and doing it all doesn’t make me a better mom.
It definitely makes me a worse one.
It makes me tired and less mindful.
Unnecessarily taking on too many things prevents me from being present and in the moment with my kids.
So I’ve been trying to KonMari those intangible things in my life.
How have I been doing it?
If you’ve read the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, you know it’s a book about decluttering the actual physical stuff in your life.
And the method Kondo uses is to ask yourself if the things you possess “spark joy.” She wants you to literally hold your things in your hands and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy in me?”
That’s what I’m going through now with the stuff in my life that isn’t actually stuff. With life in general.
Maybe it’s the fact that I realize how quickly time is flying by. When I started this blog, Number 4 was in first grade.
Now she is almost as tall as me!
How the heck did that happen so quickly?
What I’m finally realizing is that I don’t want to waste my time doing things that don’t make me happy or that don’t add to the quality of my life or my family’s life.
If it doesn’t spark joy, I’m not doing it!
But it’s easy to fall back into the old ways.
So back to that near miss I had a couple days ago.
I got a call from the Harry Connick Jr. Show. They asked me if I was available this upcoming Monday and Tuesday to film a segment.
Without hesitation, I said YES!
I mean, come on! Who gets the chance to meet Harry Connick Jr.?
It was a no brainer.
Then I had a day to think about it.
We have a four day swim meet this weekend. It goes from Thursday through Sunday. I am in the middle of it right now.
If you are in the swimming world, you get it. And I won’t bore you nonswimmers with the details, but in a nutshell, I’ll be at the pool from 7:30 a.m. to at least 8:00 p.m Friday through Sunday.
I won’t be home at all for three days.
Next, I know from being on the Dr. Oz Show in the past that I will need brightly colored clothes to wear during the segment, and I don’t have any because I’ve gained weight and hardly any of my clothes fit me.
So somewhere over the weekend where I won’t have one free minute of time, I’d have to either go shopping or find a friend who had something I could borrow to wear. In addition to needing requiring time I don’t have, I’d also most likely need to spend money on something to wear.
Then, a crew would be coming to my house to film for about three hours first thing on Monday morning, and I’d have to go into the the city and be at the studio for three hours on Tuesday.
I’d have to make arrangements for the kids to be picked up/dropped off on Tuesday, plus I’d need to arrange for coaching coverage, and the logistical gymnastics that I had to compete in over the weekend at the swim meet would be extended by two more days.
So I’d have nothing to wear, I’d be at a swim meet for 5 million consecutive hours preceding the shoot, my house would most likely be a shit hole when I got home Sunday night, and I’d be SHOT.
I’d get home about 10 pm on Sunday night, completely depleted, and rather than celebrating and enjoying a (hopefully) successful weekend of swimming, I’d be FAH-REAKING out about people coming to the house in less than twelve hours and immediately transition into major bitch mode.
I’d be a disaster and a massive asshole to my family, and being on the show wouldn’t really benefit me in any way. Because I wouldn’t be part of a segment that would promote the blog or anything. It wouldn’t make me money or gain me any exposure. It would just be for fun.
And I’d meet Harry for like 1. 32 seconds.
After a few hours, I pulled my head out of my butt and realized that the only thing being sparked by agreeing to be on this show was massive amounts of stress.
So I came to my senses and contacted the producers and told them I couldn’t do it.
Deciding NOT to do the show sparked way more joy than agreeing to do it in the first place had!
And this come to Jesus moment is my reminder to all you stressed out and overloaded moms.
There are definitely parts of parenthood that stressful and unavoidable.
But there are so many things we agree to do that are avoidable!
I am encouraging those of you who are really feeling stressed out to think about the big picture.
When you think about your life, what are the things you really want? What is it that really brings you happiness? What are your goals for yourself and your kids?
Then look at all the things that are causing you stress.
Are they helping you get those things you really want? Do they spark any joy at all? Do they add to the quality of your life? Will they ever add to the quality of your life?
Five years from now when your baby is in kindergarten or when your middle schooler is off to college, will you look back at whatever it is you are doing that is stressing you out and making you cranky and unavailable for your kids and say, I wish I hadn’t done that?
Stop agreeing to do things you don’t need to do and that don’t make you happy!
There is no award for over-achieving moms! There is no bonus!
There certainly is no benefit in adding unnecessary pressure and stress to your life.
But there may be a lot of lost and wasted time and a whole bunch of regret.
If you are feeling completely and totally overwhelmed, and if your life almost always feels unmanageable and chaotic, it might be time to reevaluate. It might be time to reassess.
I know they say that time flies when you are having fun, but take it from me.
Time also flies when you are not having fun.
And I don’t know about you, but I want to fill my flying time with as much stuff that sparks joy as possible.
So the next time you have the opportunity to add one more activity, one more intangible thing into your life, wait before you respond.
Don’t just think before you speak.
Think before you act. Think before you decide.
Think about how much joy anything you decide to do will spark (in the short term and the long term), and then think about how much sh*t it will spark.
And then, if it’s gonna spark tons of stress…
Don’t do it!
If I’m meant to meet Harry Connick Jr., another opportunity will come up.
Besides, maybe it’s not me who would be lucky to meet Harry Connick Jr.
Maybe Harry Connick Jr. is the one who would be lucky to meet me.
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Shannon M says
Saying no is a constant struggle for me…and every mom that I know. Thanks for the perspective about seeing the bigger picture – in the grand scheme of things being there for your family trumps all.