Thursday, March 10, 2016

Thoughts on Doing it All. Or Not.

hiking in the lovely weather we're enjoying

I've been thinking a lot lately about my attitudes and how I speak to the kiddos.

What brought this on?

The realization that Sunshine is impatient with and yells at her brother more than I'd like. Usually it's because he's gotten into something of hers (he is two, after all), but it happens more than I'd like. As I've reminded her to speak to him in a nice tone of voice, I've been paying more attention to how I speak to them. They do learn from example, after all. This has helped me realize that I am frequently impatient with them when they interrupt me in something I'm working on that needs my attention. I'm short on time and need to get it done right then. Usually it's just dinner, but why am I always so rushed at dinner time? Why am I stressed out and taking it out on the kids?

The other day when I was taking veg scraps to the compost bin I had an epiphany. Ok, I'd been contemplating the questions I just mentioned while I was working in the kitchen, so it wasn't completely out of the blue.
I'm stressed because I'm always so busy because I'm trying to do it all and all my projects make me even busier. I've had my "projects" for years, and it wasn't a problem when I just had Sunshine to worry about. But when River was born, I didn't back off and make accommodations for the fact that I now had two children to care for. Instead I just got stressed about how little project time I had. Then Ocean was born and there's even less project time. Thankfully I decided awhile ago I wouldn't be working on any big projects this year (no repeats of last year's basement patio and the treehouse), just smaller ones.
A few minutes later I was standing in the kitchen loading the dishwasher while dinner cooked, and I had the thought that just because I didn't work on and/or finish a project doesn't mean I didn't do anything that day.

The overachiever in me who likes to look back at all the things I've accomplished has a hard time with that. I've gotten used to using my projects as a benchmark for how productive my day was. This probably goes back to the days when I just didn't have energy to do anything outside the absolute bare necessities. Once I started feeling better, completing projects was a way of showing that progress and keeping myself motivated on the days I didn't feel quite so well.

It's now five or six years later and my projects have kind of taken over my life. If I didn't work on or finish a project then I do tend to feel like that day wasn't productive. Never mind that I was busy feeding my family, helping Sunshine with her schoolwork, running her to activities or the boys to checkups, or whatever else occupied my day. I need to re-frame my thought process and remind myself that I was productive, just not as creatively productive as I would have liked.

One of our current goals is to pay off our debts as quickly as possible (if we're super careful and stay committed, we should manage in it the next two-three years), which means not spending money on projects (hence my goal to use materials we have on hand to finish smaller projects) and putting off things we'd like to do. Which means we'll be living with our hideous kitchen for a couple more years :( I have come up with a couple low-cost things I can do to make it more bearable in the meantime, and I'll work on improving my patience.

I'm hoping that not embarking on big projects will help me be less stressed out and more patient with the kiddos. Fewer projects also means more time for house cleaning. I'm not convinced that's a good thing, though :) I've been meaning to do a top to bottom deep clean of the house for awhile, but just haven't had the time, or really the desire (cleaning is not my favorite thing to do). The big challenge I see in all this will be to keep my business from taking the place of my projects, i.e., taking over my life. I will have to spend time making the products I will be selling as well as all the boring stuff like marketing, bookkeeping, etc. I'm still in the early stages {I've got my website partially set up, but need to fine tune the details} and haven't yet reached the point of adding more tasks back into my schedule.

I'm willing to cut back on my project time and take more time to finish the projects I do have in mind. I won't be stopping them altogether. I've actually seen the effect of this since the last week in January. I had projects I was in the middle of, but I gave myself permission to not finish them right away (like my OCD wanted), and focused on other things instead. I started spending time on the treadmill again. I started dinner earlier and we actually ate dinner at a reasonable time (not a usual occurrence for us). I was a little less impatient with the kiddos. Not to say that I'm suddenly a paragon of patience, but I am making progress.

The last couple weeks have been a bit more hectic as I've spent more time on my computer, filling out paperwork, trying to figure out WordPress, and spending more money than I'd like as I set up my business. I'm hoping that once I get everything set up the computer and on-line side of the business won't be quite so time-intensive. I don't want to undo my progress in decreasing my screen time. Since I don't have a good track record balancing my projects and family time I know it will be a challenge to balance work-related project time with family time. Hopefully being more aware of the issue will make it easier to stay on top of.

No comments:

Post a Comment