The day we decided I wouldn’t keep my corporate job nor look for a new one in Columbus, I thought – man, my pace of life is going to be so much better.
I’ll finally be able to slow parent like I read about in A Cup of Jo.
I’ll have a garden.
My kids’ toys will be organized.
We’ll bake cookies.
I’ll do amazing Pinterest-y crafts with my toddler.
I’ll accomplish potty-training like a champ.
My home will be perfectly decorated with antiques.
Fast forward to October. We’re through the majority of our boxes, Shep has adjusted well to school, Clint’s really enjoying his job and I’ve started working with a few clients on a freelance basis. Don’t get me wrong – LIFE IS GOOD! But as I started creating my daily to-do list, I thought to myself – I am making this long every single day and I don’t need to. I’m filling my day with tasks and I feel busy and stressed every single day. I constantly feel like I’m not doing enough, I’m not present enough, I didn’t get our laundry done, our dishes are dirty, I’m right up against a deadline, etc. Then I realized, If I never consciously, purposefully choose to slow down, I never will. I will always be stressed and crazed and on to the next task.
Not necessarily the way I want to live my life.
I’d be missing all the good stuff.
So I picked up Present Over Perfect and ohmygod it totally spoke to me. Here’s a passage that had me near tears, and captures my life a little too accurately right about now:
“And I’m so tired. I miss my friends. I sleep terribly. I snap at my kids more than I want to, and then I lay in bed at night feeling guilty about it. I spend more time asking my husband for help with the dishes or the kids than I do asking him about his life and dreams and ideas. Who wins, then? Whose voice am I listening to? What am I trying to prove? What would happen, what would be lost, if I stopped, or if I slowed down to a pace that felt less like a high-speed chase all day, every day?”
So this blog post is more than confessing my constant to-do list. I’m putting down here, my promise to purposefully slow down. Because our worth is not measured by how many things we can cross off our to-do list. If you’re like me, you have been running that race for a long, long time. Here’s a place to start if you want to start slowing down, too:
- Carve out no-phone time. That thing is a time suck. I’m picking sacred times in my day the phone is off, and I mean off. I put it away in a room I can’t see. If I miss something, I will live. I’m not that important.
- Choose no-work days. Now that I am self-employed, I have quickly learned that doesn’t mean I have more time off. In fact, if I choose to, I can work more. I can work all day, every day, and multi-task like crazy to get it all done. And then I’ll pick more to do and accomplish and cross off that list. At some point, I figured out there has to be time I choose not to work, because when you’re self-employed, only you can make that choice. Each week, I’m figuring out the best days for that, and planning my deadlines around them (or working ahead of deadlines in some cases).
- Unsubscribe to store emails. I’m a big online shopper, and I’ve told myself it saves me time. It also means I’ll start buying more stuff, that I don’t need and I’ll eventually donate or throw out. I really, truly don’t need any more stuff. I will live without another pair of leggings. And if I miss the 30% off sale, I’ll be OK too. It’s not worth me dropping everything and finishing my online order. I love Unroll.me, and it makes unsubscribing super simple.
- Sit in silence. I never realized how often I filled silence with something. Music on while working. Podcasts in the car. Calling a friend while I’m waiting at the doctor’s office. Texting constantly. Then I realized, what’s so scary about silence? I went running today with no headphones and you know what I heard? Birds. Leaves. Like I hadn’t heard them in years. I had constantly been filling my life with noise in places it didn’t need to be.
- Have ‘nothing’ days. Once I started being home with the boys, I found myself over-scheduling us like crazy. Playdate Monday, Tuesday open gym, Wednesday park, etc. Why on earth did I think I needed to schedule park time? We can go anytime we want to! So while my over-scheduling tendencies bring structure to our days, I schedule a “free” day (is that an oxymoron?) But really, I choose to not schedule anything on those days. If a friend wants to get together, we can! We don’t need to plan weeks in advance and then feel guilty when we cancel. Some of the last minute get togethers with friends have been the most special for us in a new neighborhood. I hate to think what we would have missed if we had been too busy. And you know what the worst thing is that can happen if you have nothing to do? You find ways to spend quality time together, like coloring cardboard boxes or gluing random objects on to cardboard. You know what I learned? My son can turn just about anything into a rocketship.
There you have it – this Type-A, addicted-to-busy mom is confessing and trying to let go of all that in order for our family to find more balance, but more than anything to really, truly enjoy our lives and those special people that are in it.
Have you read Present Over Perfect? What did you think?