Chew Like Crazy

I’ve always heard people say “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” This phrase creeps into my mind on weeks like this week…weeks of pure panic and stress. I’m a young mother of two who works full time and loves to be involved…so of course my life is INSANE. I knew this month would be a rough ride and it hasn’t disappointed.

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My week thus far has gone something like this:

 


Every Day:

5:00 a.m. – Workout

6:00 – 8:00 a.m. – Shower, hair, makeup, dress the kids, morning chores, drop daughter to  the sitter, drop son to school and get to work praying not only that I’m not late, but also that I’m early enough to get a decent parking space.

8:00 a.m.- 5:20 p.m. – WORK.

5:20 – 9:00 p.m. – Dinner, Homework, Piano Homework, Bath time, Bed time stories, Laundry, Dishes….Husband

Monday

5:45 – 6:45 p.m. – Daughter to gymnastics

6:00 – 7:00 p.m. – Son to batting practice

Tuesday

6:30 – 7:00 p.m. – Tiger Cub Den Meeting

Wednesday

6:00 – 8:00 – Church duties for Lenten Season

Thursday

5:45 – 6:15 p.m. – Son’s piano lessons

6:00 – 7:00 p.m. – Scout Committee Meeting

For better or worse, this is a typical week in the Hafele House.  We live full throttle and most days I love it.  But this week has been a mess.  Last weekend was even crazier than usual, jam-packed with activities and I didn’t get to prep for the upcoming week.  My prep time is vital to surviving this modern day lifestyle.  Prep is essential to “having it all”.  So by Thursday morning when I discovered my husband was down to his last pair of underpants, my kids had no matching socks, we were out of fresh bath towels, there were dirty dishes by the sink and loads of laundry sitting in baskets staring at me…I knew that all of this chaos was a direct result of not prepping properly for my week to come.  Someday I will learn that above all other important things, I must make time to prepare myself. 

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I thought it would be fun to share a few of my pointers with my readers.  These are the little things that save me from weeks like the one I just had.

Here goes…these are my rules for biting off more than I can chew:

  • How are you spending your time?  Are your activities ones that center around your interests and those of your family/children/friends?  If you find yourself devoting a lot of time and energy toward something that just isn’t something you love, don’t feel guilty for moving on.  The fact is that we’re all busy and our time is limited, so my advice is to be selective with where you spend it.  Today I do not volunteer for any organization unless it is related directly to my family and/or my children.  It’s a win/win when I get to volunteer and spend extra time with my little loves!
  • Plan ahead.  This is one of the biggest factors for  determining the kind of week I’m going to have.  I can expect to not come directly home any night of the week.  I can expect to be spending my lunch hour running my preschooler back and forth to school or planning for our next scout den meeting or Sunday school class.  So on Sunday, I take the time to plan and prep as much as possible for the upcoming week, starting with my meals for the work week.  I have a meal plan which my husband is aware of and can step in and help out with depending on who makes it home first.  I prepare as much food as possible ahead of time to make week nights just a little easier. I also prepare and package all of my lunches for the week.  In addition to being handy, this keeps me healthy and eating right even when I’m stressed for time.
  • Plan ahead – Part Deux.  I set out my workout clothes the evening before in my bathroom.  It’s harder to skip a workout when you know your clothes will be taunting you after you’ve slept in and decided to be lazy.  I also hang my outfit for the next workday in the bathroom so it’s ready to hop into directly after my post-workout shower. And I’m less likely to crawl into my frumpy, old, go-to outfit when I plan ahead.  I mean who really feels like wearing a pencil skirt at 6:00 in the morning.  Not me!  But at 10 p.m. it always feels like a good idea for the next day.
  • Buy a planner (a paper planner) and use it.  Yes, an old fashioned, pen and paper, prehistoric, like the kind your grandma uses, type of planner and write everything down in it.  I wouldn’t know if I was coming or going (seriously) without mine.
  • Ask for help.  Yes, when I need help, I ask for it.  If that means asking my mom to watch the kids for an extra 20 minutes or asking the husband to pick up an extra chore or household duty, I ask for what I need.  I’ve found I have to be direct about what I need.  Shocker…but no one can read my mind.  It took me a while to figure that one out.
  • Sit out when you need to. Tonight was that night for me.  I had to cancel out of my Thursday night Scout Committee Meeting…I hate to not make it to a meeting, but when my household has exploded around me, I always try to remember to put first thing first.  And my family and my home always come first. Always.
  • Lastly, CHEW.  Yes, I said CHEW.  Chew like hell.  I say bite off more that you can chew, have your drink nearby just in case you need help washing it down, have a good friend on hand that knows the heimlich maneuver (you know, just in case), AND CHEW, CHEW, CHEW.  A full, busy life is a happy life for me.  Sometimes it is overwhelming but it is also rewarding.  So I choose to chew.

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So these simple things are what help me survive being a working, volunteering, crazy mom.  What are your secret weapons of survival?  Share them with the women in your life…goodness knows, we all need the  help.  You never know what will work for you, so be flexible.  I will be back on the ball this weekend, prepping and planning and hopefully having a smoother week next week.  But all’s well that ends well, and I survived!

 

 

Stress Mess

I’m heading out of the office for the day…I must make it down two flights of stairs, through three sets of doors (one which I need to enter a passcode to open) and across the parking lot to my car all while carrying :

  1. my planner (aka “my life in a little leather book”)
  2. a few emails I have printed so I don’t forget to do task a, b and c later in the evening…or week….or month…or whenever I get to them
  3. a carton of cookies I will be delivering to my mom
  4. my lunch bag still filled with lunch (since I forgot to grab it from the fridge as I headed out of the office on break)
  5. a ziplock bag with two hard boiled eggs (don’t ask about my odd eating habits…I’m currently eating “clean” or something like that).
  6. 2 lbs of raw ground beef that I picked up from the grocery market over my lunch break (taco night…woot woot)
  7. hanging awkwardly from my shoulder is my purse… with my shaker cup hanging dangerously out of the top
  8. hoisted against my shoulder and leaning on my forearm is a box filled with summer sausage, cheese and crackers.

This is me. This mess, this crazy amount of chaos, this balancing act is me…all the time…every day. Did I mention I’m wearing 3″ heels???

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So I rush to my moms to pick up my kiddos and I’m down one box of cookies, but I’ve been raised one backpack and 3- and 7-year old bodies of pure energy. We pull in at home and it’s unloading EVERYTHING from the car, making supper, practicing piano, homework, stories, bedtime and I. AM. BEAT.

I’m thinking of my coming week and I know I have a Sunday School class to prep for, a Boy Scout meeting to plan, a holiday party, a wedding, my son’s first day of bowling…and I’m feeling overwhelmed. Sound familiar? You can relate, right?

As I was leaving work today, hands full, looking like a hot (hopefully at least halfway decent 😉) mess, a friend of mine followed me out of the building. She just eyed my struggle and smiled…she’s been there. I shared with her that I feel like I’m constantly feeling like I’m swimming in chaos. I see these other people go to and from here or there and they’re hands are empty. They look relaxed. How do they do that??? My friend looked at me and said “You wouldn’t have it any other way.” Whether I like it or not, I know she’s right.

I tend to walk a very fine line between blissfully active and anxiously overwhelmed.  At times I’ve slipped right off the edge and landed square on my rear. These are the times that I start to count my burdens, my worries, my anxieties. I start to count and recount, I begin to list, I can’t sleep and I can’t move forward and somehow I can’t seem to get a single thing accomplished. Stress is like a thick fog. If you let it surround you, you can’t move in any direction with confidence. You’re stuck. The good news is I’ve learned something along the way. I’ve learned a new way to carry my load. A way to turn bricks to feathers and it all begins with gratitude.

Today I’m overwhelmed.

So I begin to think of what I have to be thankful for. I’m so thankful to be healthy today, for the ability to move and be active, to not be limited in my energy and capabilities. Sometimes being grateful starts very simply. The more stress I feel, the simpler my gratitude list needs to start. Sometimes it’s the air in my lungs, my feet on the floor. When I start with the simplest things that I normally take for granted, I can gently roll into the bigger, more obvious things in my life. That small bit of gratitude can grow into a warm, glowing, large sense of thankfulness for my children, my husband, my family and home. The realization comes to me that all of these blessings come with responsibility. That feeling I was previously interpreting as stress, I can now see as my privilege. How fortunate am I that these are my problems?

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Gratitude is an amazing gift. Developing an attitude of gratitude is like removing a blindfold and seeing the sun for the first time. When I am focused on the stress and the to-do list, I’m wandering in the dark. But when I start to focus on gratitude, I am able to not only handle the stress…I am able to be thankful for it. Because after all, these things are not stress, they are my greatest blessings…my children and their activities, my church and my growth in and with God, my home and my household, my career and my professional goals. It is truly a matter of perspective. And I have decided I will be thankful.

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What do you have to be thankful for? Consider what is stressing you right now. Can you look at those stressors from a perspective of gratitude? Can you transform your brick into a feather? I encourage you to give it a try. Trust me when I say it takes some practice. But once you get it, the first time you remove the blindfold, you’ll gain a true understanding of the power of gratitude.