Good morning, Mamma! Happy Monday! Alright, so, three weeks to go, what do you want to fit in your life? What do you WANT to get done in the next three weeks? We can’t do it all, but we can do enough. We can’t have perfection, but we can still have wonderful.
What matters to you? What makes your heart soar? What have you been wanting to do, just, forever? Do that.
What makes your stomach churn? What makes your heart ache? What do you hate and have hated forever? Skip that.
I love cards. And making cookies with my kids. Love them beyond reason. I make time for those.
The women in my neighborhood do a ladies-only ornament party. They are lovely humans and they give a lovely party, but in the past, when I would go, I would sit there wishing I was home with my kids. I finally wised-up and now I skip the party to stay home and make cookies with my kids. And I’m happier.
I have a full-time job outside my home. That means that I have less time in the day for home-making, but making a home is still a precious and crucially important job. So I make choices.
Yes to the cards. No to the party. Yes to reading books by a fire. No to home-made caramels. Yes to time with family, no to after-work time with co-workers. Yes to cutting down our own tree, no to real garland swags.
And here’s the thing: I love parties and caramels and real evergreen garland swags, but I have to make choices. Were I to try to fit it all in, I would be a hysterical, stressed-out mommy and that would not be fun at all. (I know I would, I’ve tried to fit it all in some Christmases past and been that screaming banshee. NOT festive. Not festive at all.)
Three weeks. What matters to you? Do that.
The rest of it? Outsource it if you can, or just let it go and no regrets.
Christmas, like life, does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.
Good morning! Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful. And that’s a darn good thing because my entire household woke up late this morning. You’ve been there, right? So you can imagine the scene.
That whole imperfection thing. I’m getting better at making peace with it, but still, there are days.
As working moms we will never have enough time to be the perfect mom or the perfect employee or the perfect anything, and there can be pain in living that. I remember days when the pain of it was just blinding. Days when the kitchen was a mess and the report was overdue, and all I wanted was more time to sit and read to my kids and I felt utterly inadequate. Pain, sister. This life is not for sissies.
It helped when I learned about Big Rocks.
Big rocks. Put the big rocks in first. You’ve probably heard this analogy from Stephen Covey, but just in case: Imagine you have a big jar, and you are asked to fill it with sand and pebbles and small rocks and a few big rocks. There is more than enough material there to fill the jar to the top, how can you get the most in your jar? Well, if you put the sand and pebbles in first, there won’t be room for the big rocks. The trick is to put the big rocks in first and then fit the pebbles and sand in around them.
The big rocks for me are my family, my health, my job. Small rocks, friendships, our dogs, the compulsion I have to continually learn about the world around me. Sand: Shopping (fine if I have time, but mostly I go with what we already own or, if I have to, have the new item delivered).
Big rock: Christmas gift for the kid. Sand: Wrapping it beautifully.
Big rock: Family eating dinner together. Sand: Fancy food.
Big rock: Major project at work. Sand: Happy hour.
Big rock: Safe house. Sand: Clean house.
Let yourself live this. It won’t all fit in, it just won’t. Especially in those early and fleeting years when your kids are little and they want and need so much from you. Let the sand-little unimportant stuff go, and no regrets.
When the sand-people complain or criticize you – and, sadly, it’s a when, not an if – let it roll past without touching your heart. You can, because you know your big rocks are taken care of.
Identify your big rocks. What matters to you? Protect that.
You’ve got this.
Good morning, girl. Happy Friday!
What do you need? What does your family need? How can you get that?
Forget usual, forget normal; I vastly prefer this-works-for-me to any clichéd vision of whatever we are ‘supposed’ to be doing.
I took yesterday off and made Christmas cookie dough with my mom. We mixed it and rolled it and froze it; four different kinds. You see, I can look ahead to the coming months and I know I won’t have time to make cookies, so I do this. They may not be as perfect as cookies freshly made on December 2nd, but I’m looking at December 2nd and there won’t be time. So, this-works-for-me.
I get up at four in the morning so I have time to read, write, pray and get a run in before my family wakes up. I can’t stay awake past ten at night. Wine is a rare luxury in my life. This-works-for-me.
When I’m out of town, I leave business dinners/parties/events to call home for an evening blessing with my kids. They give me the update on their days and we say our nightly Irish blessing together even if I’m three time zones away. If it’s an important meeting I’ll step out quietly and quickly, call my kids, and then come back in. I try to be quiet about it, but I’m sure there are people who think I’m some kind of weird religious nut or overly involved mother for doing this. Don’t care. My kids love it. I love it. This-works-for-me.
You know what you value, you know what fits and what won’t. You have my permission, right now, to jettison everyone else’s idea of what you are ‘supposed’ to be and do what works for your family.
If using paper plates will give you twenty minutes of no-dishes to read out loud with your kids, use the paper and no guilt. Grocery delivery service may feel like a luxury, but I’ve found I actually spend less (way less) when I order online instead of wandering the isles at the mercy of the food marketers; more importantly, I need that hour. I put my make-up on in the car, I missed every one of the ‘grown-up’ parties I was invited to this summer and I’ve been to book club once in three years. I have caught up on email, in the stands, during half-time, at an eighth grade basketball game.
I have discovered what I value: time with my kids, time with my husband, time to work-out. What do you value? How are you going to protect that?
There are only so many hours in they day, no matter how much we may wish there were more.
Your family, your life, your rules. Your happy.
What works for you?
Hey, girl. Good morning. For my Christian mammas this morning – are you starting to plan for Christmas yet? You’ve thought about it, haven’t you? And good for you. This is so big it needs some planning. Plan ahead to minimize stress, maximize joy.
I started to plan for this Christmas on December 26, 2015. While my kids were running around the house with their new toys I made myself a cup of hot tea and sat down on the sofa , cross-legged in my yoga pants, pillow on my lap, dog at my side, and wrote myself a letter. I printed it, punched it (I love paper) and put it in my daytimer for October 2016.
In that letter, I talked about what worked and what didn’t. What each kid liked best and needed most from the holiday, why to stay on budget no matter what, how many bottles of wine we needed at our open house. I’ve read it through now four times to keep myself targeted.
Early? Well, yes and no. In one week at work, I dive into an important new product launch that will keep me ridiculously busy for the next four months, minimum. Months of travel, meetings, promotions. Those months roll right into and over the holiday season.
I have learned over the years that there are only so many hours in the day, no matter how much I might wish it otherwise. So, I do what I can to spend those hours in the most meaningful way possible. I don’t want to miss my life. Honestly, I’ve missed too much of it and I refuse to do that anymore.
That means that I’d better have every busy thing done that I can possibly do now. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, in the few free hours I am going to have, I want only to be with my children. And my husband, him too. I don’t want to be in the basement wrapping anything. I do NOT want to be shopping sales for Christmas gifts. I do not want to be in a store at all. I want to be home. I want to be with them. Baking maybe. Or sledding. Or reading How The Grinch Stole Christmas for the thousandth time by the tree.
So, my shopping is done. I even ordered up the ingredients for their favorite Christmas cookies. Our family photo is taken, our cards are purchased, my address labels are printed up. Today I wrap the presents (seriously) and hide them. Tomorrow, I stamp our hundreds of Christmas cards. (In years past I’ve paid someone to do this for me, but I regretted it. I like this part of Christmas.)
How about you, girl? What can you do to minimize your stress over the coming months and maximize your joy?
You’re smart. You’re accustomed to managing projects. Manage this one. There is no rule that you have to do it all; do what you want. Work does not always have to win; protect what is important to you. Ask the kids what they remember about last Christmas; ask your husband. It’s the easiest way to find out what was meaningful for them.
This is your one and precious life. They won’t be little forever. Make a battle plan and then protect the time and those traditions you’ve decided are important to you.
Your family, your way.
Merry Christmas, Mamma.
My life goes better when I have a goal and a plan. Everything. The day. The week’s meals. My workouts. It all goes better when I take the time to plan.
Take, for example, your wedding. You wouldn’t say, “Well, everybody pretty much knows how this goes. Let’s just wing it and see what happens”. That would be interesting, but it’s a rare woman who would trust that day to chance.
Or dinner? Dinner without a plan is pretty much Cheerios at our house. Even with a plan it’s still Cheerios some days, but we have a better shot at actual vegetables if I have planned out the week’s meal and done the shopping over the weekend.
Everything goes better when I have an idea of what I want for an end result, and when I then set up a detailed road map to get me there.
Does everything always go according to plan? Absolutely not, but it’s a lot easier to modify and adjust than it is to build the plane while you’re flying.
My day. Goes best when I take an hour in the morning to assess the day before, what needs to happen today. Do I have on or off-site meetings, what is coming up in my week, what does my family need of me? Mom, wife and athlete are there on the list with worker-bee. If those obligations aren’t on the list, they somehow never get the respect they deserve.
Set out all the to-dos, organize them in order of importance, figure out how to delegate what is falling off the bottom of my list. And then, begin.
Those are my best days.
How about you, sister? Do you have a plan?
Good morning, girl. Happy Wednesday! Words have so much power. And thank God, music does too. Use both accordingly.
Music, in fact, saved our morning this first-day-of-school.
It started when I read a grumpy post on Facebook during my early morning me-time, which made me grumpy. I went upstairs and grumped to my husband, which made him grumpy. He came down and grumped at the kids… you get the idea. As we’re carping at each other across the kitchen I’m silently berating myself, “No! Not on the first day of school! This is not the tone I wanted to set today!”
So I turned to my family and said just that. Then I asked eldest kiddo to please go pull up some swing music on his computer. Husband decided to go upstairs and take a quick shower as a reset. I sent another kid (the one who loves the outdoors) outside to get yesterday’s mail (it’s a bit of a walk to our mailbox). I went upstairs and changed clothes.
Fifteen minutes later, music has morphed from swing to George Michael. The girls are dancing in the living room, husband and I are smiling and getting the rest of the breakfast on the table, and boys are laughing.
Whew. That was close.
I can’t help but again be amazed at the power of words, the power of music, the power of attitude. The grumpy this morning started because I let somebody trash my attitude with angry words.
We choose to be happy. We choose it, every day.
Nobody’s life is perfect. Nobody’s career opportunities or family opportunities or personal fulfillment comes without struggle or without a price. Pick your life. Work hard for it because life is hard. And life is wonderful, maybe made more wonderful because of all that hard work. Be grateful for the good stuff, because there is a lot of it there.
And on the days it’s veering off-track, try a little Benny Goodman, or Cherry Poppin Daddies’ Zoot Suit Riot. I’m telling you, it’s the bomb.
Hi there, Mamma. Happy Friday! Wow, but this is a bananas time of year, isn’t it? Back to School!! For the kids, and sometimes for Mommy too.
Back to School madness has been a theme in so many of my conversations with friends this week. One girlfriend, who is going back to graduate school herself, in addition to sending her kiddos back, was trying to make a month’s worth of meals to freeze. She’d been cooking for, like, two days straight when I talked to her and she was somewhere between stressed and hilarious.
Two other girlfriends are going to be on business trips – the unavoidable, un-reschedulable kind – on their kiddos first days of school. That sucks. No getting around it, no other way to say it, there are times when this working mom gig just hurts so much, and missing the first day of school would be one of them. They were both strategizing note-writing, face-timing, making-it-up-to-them, and they were both still in pain.
Most every working mom is juggling the do-your-shoes-still-fit, how-many-notebooks-do-you-need, when-is-parent-orientation of it all while also trying to keep a poker face at work. Who’s stressed? Not me! I’m fine, totally. Really. Sort of. Mostly.
It’s a non-stop juggle this life of ours. A non-stop balancing and re-balancing act that should land us a star spot in any Cirque de Soleil if they had any inkling of our talents.
As you dance to the circus music, please keep bringing yourself back to your core values. What is going to matter fifteen years from now? If you skip out of whatever-work-obligation to be there for your kids’ special day, will that put your job in jeopardy? If you miss that thing your kid has especially asked you to be there for, will it hurt your relationship?
I talked to a woman this week who left a national directorship position to take a job with less travel because work was winning too often. Brave woman. I talked to another woman who is weighing a promotion. I talked to women who were Hello-Freshing, Grandma-can-you-help-me-with-laundry, gotta-find-a-sitter-for-this-one, managing their lives.
Only you can determine what will work for you, your family and your job. It won’t be perfect, it’s never perfect, but it can still be good.
Those core values, Mamma. Filter it all through those. Your lighthouse, keeping you off the rocks, your North Star.
A two minute read. Great information about a so-simple way to stay connected to your kids!