5 Simple Steps to Slowing Down and Prioritizing Your Life
My life as a mom is like a constant HIIT Training run. The treadmill never fully stops, just goes up and down in speed with some killer tough inclines and sprints followed by a slower paced jog where I try to catch my breath.
I recently did an interval run on my treadmill and was fascinated to see how my body got progressively tired with each round of sprints. The first one wasn’t so bad, I could hold my own. But as I got into the 4th, 5th, and 6th sprint I noticed how much harder I had to work to hold the pace and not grab onto the arms grips (I’ll confess-by the final round I was holding on much of the sprint).
In the middle of that workout I saw how HIIT running is just like being a mom.
When we are ‘sprinting’ in life, we may not really feel it at first.
We juggle the kids, the carpools, dinner, laundry, work, husband, lack of sleep and more and come through it like superstars. We are invincible.
But before too long we start to feel the sprints and notice that the resting intervals feel shorter and shorter and even when we get the rest interval we don’t fully recover before the next sprint. We are fast approaching burnout.
We are not designed to ‘sprint’ through motherhood. It is definitely a marathon, not a sprint. But it’s a ultra marathon, one without a finish line.
For that reason we have to give up the perfection game and stop feeling that because we are busy we are valuable.
What if all mom’s everywhere could give up the tired, busy, stressed, overworked badge of honor?
What if we could brag instead about how balanced our lives are, how we got a great nap yesterday, and took time to sit and read stories with our baby instead of crossing off another made up to-do on our list?
How do we stop the sprint and adjust the treadmill to a manageable ultra marathon pace?
5 Steps to Slowing Down the Treadmill
P.P.C.O.W. Life Strategy
Prioritize!! You can’t do it all. I repeat, you can’t do it all! No matter what society might promise, you can’t do it all. At least not all at the same time. If your kids are small your priorities will be very different than a family with teenagers. Take some quiet moments to write out your true priorities, what it looks like to you to be a good mom, and what actions you will take if you are living as that ‘good mom’.
Plan. If you fail to plan you plan to fail. If possible, give yourself a chunk of time or several smaller blocks of time to be alone and really think about your ideal life flow. What would your ideal day look like? How would you spend your finite energy? Make a complete list of everything that comes up for you. Then choose a few items to add into your daily round that help you more closely align with your priorities, or a few items to take out that contradict your priorities and practice these new habits until they become part of you.
Calendar. Look at your priorities, create a plan that aligns with those priorities, then calendar an appointment to meet each priority. For example: If you have set a priority to spend one and one time with your kids every day, you would include a plan to earmark 15 minutes with each kid and then calendar that appointment-and don’t break it!
Outsource. How often have wished you could hire out all the stuff you don’t like to do? Time to go back to planning-make a list of all the things you would be content to let another person do that would make your life smoother. Your list may include a cook, cleaner, organizer, lawn service, car detailer, babysitter and so on. Is it any wonder you feel burnt out when you see the many roles you have been filling?
Choose the one job you REALLY don’t enjoy. Then get creative. You might like organizing but hate cooking. Another mom in your circle may love to cook but could use organization help. That’s when you set up a trade that benefits both parties and uses your strengths.
If you have the funds, choose the job you hate the most and hire it out. This doesn’t mean anything about you or your abilities. You are just choosing to use your life energy elsewhere.
White Space. Make white space in your life. If you are constantly going and doing, when are you just being? Schedule your time to just be. If you noticed you didn’t include yourself in your priority list, fix that now.
One woman I know gives herself one morning a week when her kids are at school and that is her time. She never schedules appointments or commitments during that time. It is her sacred white space on her calendar-and she doesn’t use it for cleaning or catching up!
Where is your white space? If you work during the day it may need to be one evening a week. You might feel like you are too tired or have too much to do, but the fact is you need to recharge and slow down the treadmill by giving yourself this time.
You are in Control of Your Pace
We often forget that the treadmill has up and down arrows, and that as the runner we are actually in charge of the speed and the incline.
Prioritize, Plan, Calendar, Outsource and White Space our heart rate will slow, our pace becomes manageable and the crazy part is that the most important stuff still happens.
And the unimportant stuff? It never mattered anyway.