Tomorrow is the last day of school for my kids, and that typically sends me into a little bit of panic mode.
Okay. That’s not totally true.
It completely freaks me out.
And it’s mostly financial.
If I had a few thousand dollars in a discretionary fund, I could put the kids in camp or pay a babysitter to come over a few times a week, and then I wouldn’t feel so overwhelmed.
But I don’t have a discretionary fund, and I work from home, and it’s really difficult to get much done when all the kids are home 24/7.
So I’m stressed out about being able to get work done and make money.
A couple days ago I was FULL ON freaking out because the kids had been awake for less than 30 minutes and they were already about to kill each other, and this was just while they were getting ready for school.
I thought to myself, there is no way I am going to survive the summer if they can’t even make it through a school morning without bugging the shit out of each other.
And then, once again, the Universe intervened, and I found myself listening to an episode of Amy Porterfield’s podcast entitled Why You Aren’t Taking Action with Brooke Castillo.
I decided to listen to this podcast because it was pretty much about spinning your wheels and “working” all day long but not really getting any where, or at least not getting where you want to be, and I was like, THAT IS ME.
I am always busy working, but I feel like I’m at a standstill most of the time and I’m not making forward progress.
So I’m listening to this podcast, and Brooke Castillo says,
Busy-ness is actually just chatter in your head… You can be working all day, but if you aren’t producing, you aren’t doing anything.
Don’t sit down to work on something. Sit down to produce something. At the end of your time working, you will have a result. And when you build up many, many, many results, you will have a very different looking business than if you were just really busy working on it…
[People give themselves] too much time to produce that result — too much time to get something done. We say to ourselves, “We have 8 hours to work on something.
That’s waaay too much time. The example that I like to use is we don’t want anyone to come to you and be like, “Hey, I spent eight hours getting my workout in today.”
You’re like, “Whoa. If it took you eight hours to work out, you’re doing it wrong.”
You can get a great workout in a half an hour and get the results you want for your health and for your life in a half an hour. So why is it we do that with business?
I want [my students] to say, “I have a project to get done, and I’m going to get it done in an hour.”
Immediately, everyone listening is like, “How do you know it’s going to take an hour? Maybe it will take more than an hour.”
And as soon as you start thinking like that, like “Activity takes as long as it takes, and I’ll just note how long it took,” that’s when you stop producing.
When you decide how long something will take, when you stick to that, that’s when your production gets huge momentum. Because you basically say, “Okay, I have 4 podcasts I need to produce today, and I’m going to give myself four hours. AND THAT’S IT.”
And you don’t say, “Well, what if it takes longer?”
It can’t take longer. I don’t have any more time than that…
OH MY GOD.
This is so me.
I work and work and work, but at the end of the day, I don’t have the results I want or the ones I envision.
And after listening to this podcast, I realize it’s like I have been working out for 8 hours a day. I don’t need that much time.
Once I had this epiphany, the stress of the impending summer turned into more of an excited anticipation of it.
I thought back to the early days when I first started this blog. The kids were 18 months, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 12, and 13 years old.
I had five kids seven and under, and because of that, every day I had a deadline for myself. My blog post needed to be written before 6:30 a.m. when the kids started waking up. Because once they were awake, it was over.
And you know what?
I got it done. Every day.
Five years later the kids are all in school for the day, and now I have all day to get stuff done. No more deadlines. And the result is me producing less than when I had really finite amounts of time to produce results.
So I started thinking about the kind of summer I want to have with the kids.
I am fortunate to be home with them. I could be making lots of memories with them in the next eight weeks.
I really don’t want to waste another one of the 18 summers I have with the kids being bitchy and stressed and negative.
So on Monday on the way to swim practice, we had a family meeting in the car. It’s a 45 minute drive, which is more than enough time for a meeting.
I asked who wanted to be the secretary, and Number 5 jumped at the opportunity. She sat in the way back with her purple fuzzy journal, and she took notes.
I don’t want summer to be regimented. I mean, that’s one of the most appealing things about summer, right? The kids can sleep in. There’s no morning rush.
Things are much more relaxed.
But what I have discovered for myself is that having absolutely no plan at all is when things get a little bit hairy around here. We need some sort of structure.
I thought about the calendar from the public library the kids just brought from school yesterday.
I thought about my teaching days.
I thought about that saying, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
I thought about the podcast with Brooke Castillo.
And I realized I need to schedule time with my kids.
I also need some deadlines.
So in the family meeting in the car, I told the kids I wanted to make a calendar for the summer like the one we got from the library. And I wanted them to tell me what things they’d like to do this summer.
We have no commitments or practice on Tuesdays, so we talked about taking some day trips. I asked them each to share a place they’d like to go.
They came up with a good list.
I explained that we wouldn’t do every single thing on the list, but we’d definitely do some of them.
Then we talked about what we need to do so that I can produce some results in the morning, and what everyone needs to do to help out.
They came up with this list:
They decided nobody should come downstairs before 7 a.m., that Mondays’ should be the day we go to the library, that we should have a day where we go to a playground, that one hour of technology/TV on Monday through Thursday was reasonable, and that three hours on Friday, Saturday was fair. They agreed they should all do yard work, and they all wanted to go to the track and run, because I took them with me the other week and they really liked it and had fun.
We had so much fun talking about the summer that our meeting lasted the entire 45 minutes and we were still talking as we pulled into the pool parking lot.
I told them I was going to take all the ideas they came up with and make a calendar for the next five weeks.
They were all excited. Number 7 has asked every day since our meeting when the calendar is starting.
Today I finished finally produced it, and I can’t wait to show it to them.
Every Monday is library day.
On Tuesdays I have some special things planned that won’t break the bank.
On Thursdays we will check out a different playground each week.
The thing I’m most excited about is the Friday Friend Day. The kids don’t know about this one. I very rarely let the kids have friends over because I’ve just been too overwhelmed to deal with it.
But we have a great yard for playing in the summer time, and the kids ask every year to have a friends over, and every year I shoot them down.
Not this year.
This year they will be able to invite friends over just about every Friday. In fact, they might get sick of inviting friends over this summer!
There is room for flexibility in this calendar. Every day isn’t completely full of activities, but there is something to do on most days. And then there are some totally free days.
We may have to adjust things depending on the weather. We may add things.
But right now I have some time constraints which will force me to give myself deadlines and actually produce, and I have given myself lots of opportunities to make memories with the kids.
I’m not dreading the summer anymore.
For the first time in a couple years, I’m really looking forward to it.