Having a kid will magnify the difficulties you have in your life! And setting things straight – getting a grip as some would say – will prove herculean. Almost impossible. So difficult you’ll think it can’t be done.
But don’t let this stop you! A lot of people will stay with the overwhelm, resigned that this is the way things are from now on. And I can’t blame them! I’ve struggled with my own share of baby-related hurdles. I realized that – unbeknownst to me – what I thought of as basic hygiene, like showers and shampoos, probably wasn’t all that important.
And that’s what where the rubber hits the road. Any task in life falls under four categories:
1) important and urgent
2) non-important but urgent
3) important but can wait
4) non-important and can wait
Knowing where which tasks go is more difficult that you might think. Plus, it’s heavily influenced by a lot of different factors, gender and culture, being the two most important ones. The trick is to identify what’s important to you. Not to your mother-in-law, next-door neighbor, best friend, butcher and so on and so forth.
There’s lots of things in the number 1 category that can be relegated to number 2 if they cease to be important to you, which will decrease the amount of pressure you feel. But doing this usually requires dealing with a lot of baggage. How many of you would feel guilty if you’re not doing something that you’re expected to do?
Yet who’s expecting you to do it? Is it your upbringing, is it a non-spoken agreement, or a verbal understanding?
To go back to my shower dilemma. I can use the precious time I have when baby’s napping to take a shower. Or I can use it for something I think is truly important to me. In that case, it could be feeding myself fresh, nutritious food instead of a microwavable meal, or it could be writing a blog post because I like that (and not because my readership expects it), or running errands because they help me get closer to completion on a project that I truly care about (and not just because I half-heartedly agreed to do that). The difference is my quality of life.
Working from a schedule in which everything I do is putting out fires someone else said I should attend to will not sustain me and my happiness. Working from desire and fun? Much better.
But what about making a living? What about what really needs to be done? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say:
If you cannot find the joy in it, you’re doing it wrong. I used to have jobs that weren’t anything close to my dream job. Yet I would focus on what I loved about them: the feeling of being part of a big community of commuters, my pleasure at always catching the bus no matter how late I run, the joy of feeling like a productive member of society, the feeling of freedom my paycheck would bring, this nice coworker who always pushed interesting projects my way, the incredible sights of gorgeous downtown that I got to catch everyday… If you can’t feel happy, grateful, engaged with what you do, you’re doing it wrong.
I’m not telling you to just suck it up and be in love with a daily occupation or routine that sucks the life out of you. What I’m saying is, there’s a lot of truth to the saying: “If you don’t have what you love, love what you have.” This mindset is what makes it worth living.
Especially now that you’re living for a little human being who has an uncanny superpower: making everything more complicated for you.
If you focus on loving what you do, or if you look into ways you can love what you do by your own standards (even if that includes changing careers, delegating, creating new options, asking for help) the level of urgency in your life will decrease and things will be more and more manageable until you find that, without really noticing when it happened, you started having a sense of power over your life.
How did that happen?
It happened when you shifted to prioritizing:
1) Decide what’s important to you
2) Find a way to address what’s not important that doesn’t involve it weighing quite as heavily on your shoulders
3) Delegate or ask for help
4) And own it!
Take me. I don’t shower every day. If I don’t smell – and I have a very discerning and demanding nose – I’m clean enough to go out there and be bold and engaged and at the top of my game. I wouldn’t be if I had spent my time washing up instead of feeding myself. Society’s standards of cleanliness don’t apply to parents, unless they choose to follow them because a shower is nurturing to them (like it is to my daughter’s dad).
For others, it will be keeping the house clean (no, thank you). The challenge: making it happen without actually slaving at it. Or doing laundry. Or keeping a semblance of social life. Whatever was kinda hard before and seems insurmountable now.
If you don’t stay stuck in a it-has-to-get-done-and-it’s-my-job-to-do-it mindset, if you forget about guilt-tripping yourself for a second for not adhering to the aforementioned mindset, options you had never even considered – like swapping skills or work hours with your neighbors, dropping the gym so you can afford hired help, asking a friend, joining a time-trading bank, or a co-op – will serendipitously come into your life.
The secret is: all of society’s diktats never really applied anyway. It’s only now, now that you’re a parent, scrambling to get it together and get everything done, that you’ll know what truly matters to you and what doesn’t.
The other secret is: