Friday, September 28, 2012

Get a grip! {Printables}

"Nice grip"
I try not to respond like Jafar, but.....
Yesterday, Susan wrote a real post about "the cray-cray" as we call it. Being a mom of littles is just HARD. No way around it. It is physically demanding, it is emotionally demanding, but most of all (for me), it is mentally demanding. No one tells you that you are going to have to answer the same (nonsensical) questions dozens of times per day, or that you are going to have to tell the same silly story or sing the same goofy song over and over, or that you will never have a single moment of silence unless you make threats. :P  It's this constant brain work that wears me out, to be honest! Ha! I'm making it sound worse than it is ... no? :-)

Anyway, as we girls were talking last night, we realized that it had been a tough day for every one of us. Someone must have slipped some crazy juice in all our kids' drinks. But we all each have additional things in our lives stressing us out too (a new baby, two pregnancies, babies who won't sleep, a political campaign, financial tightness -- you get it!). The thing is, this is normal. We know that we aren't unusual -- these are just the stresses of adult life. But the problem is, when we start feeling overwhelmed and like our lives are spinning on the crazy cycle, we start getting short-tempered and impatient, and we all know where that goes. (Just ask Tucker =\ )

So, last night, I had to regroup. I could tell you all my excuses for why I feel like I'm at maybe the most stressful time of my life right now, but you can fill in your own blanks -- I know you've got them! The bottom line is, I've got to get a handle on things. I know people say "this is just a season," and that's true (Hudson won't be a newborn forever), but we all know that things don't just magically get better -- you usually have to make the change happen. The truth is that a lot of times, the "seasons" pass because you figured out how to make it work, and that's why the crisis is over.

So I thought I'd share with you the two things I do when I feel the crisis welling up to its breaking point.

1. I talk to my husband.

Usually, when I am at a breakdown point like this, I am also feeling pretty distant from my husband. This is because if I'm feeling that overwhelmed it's because I'm so busy that we haven't had much time to connect. I'm a words person, and if Zack and I go very long (like, 2 days) without having some really good (preferably alone) conversation, I start believing lies like: He doesn't even care what I think. He's not making enough time for me. I'm doing more than he is. He's not pulling his fair share. He's going off living his life and leaving me behind. + hormones + exhaustion + the devil, etc. You get it. I can go from thinking he hung the moon to knowing he doesn't love me anymore in less than 24 hours. It's really quite amazing! (In my defense, I'm usually not like this -- it's only in these crisis times that I get this way. :-)

So the only answer is to talk about it. These conversations are always painful, and I usually end up crying; but every time I'm amazed that he does care what I think and 99/100 times he has a much better perspective on things than I do. (Why am I still amazed by that?? Not sure... he's proven himself over and over!) But it's also good for him to know where I'm coming from. I usually end up figuring out some deeper issues in these conversations too, things I hadn't identified to that point.

I would really encourage you to do this too. Even if you don't usually talk about these things with your husband, or you think you just don't have time, or you feel like your relationship is strained, or any other reason, just bring it up. If you can keep a cool head about it and just explain what you're thinking, he would MUCH prefer that to your negative, overwhelmed responses. And I bet he would even be sympathetic and responsive to a humble plea for help.

2. I do my Get-a-Grip Worksheet.

Nothing helps me feel more like I'm starting to dog-paddle again instead of drowning like sitting down and writing everything out. I write out what I need to be getting done each day to not be overwhelmed, why it isn't happening, any obstacles in the way of reaching those goals, and what I can do to fix them. Then I reevaluate my daily "must-dos" and how long those will take, and I sketch out my schedule. I box out "red zones" -- times of the day where I'm not going to be able to do anything, such as driving kids to school, pumping, putting kids to bed, etc. Then in those few blessed 15-minute bursts, I add in those daily must-dos. If there's not room for all of them, something needs to be reevaluated. Either I'm unrealistic with my todo list, or I need to cut out some red zones somehow. (This is where your husband can be invaluable in thinking through how you can arrange your schedule.)

Here's my worksheet that I filled in today.


Now, you might look at this and think, "What?! Doesn't that make you even crazier?!" But the truth is, if I'm not getting these things done, I'm going to feel like life is screaming by while I'm just spinning my wheels. So sometimes, I have to get my head out of the sand and face what the reality of my day is! Knowing what a successful day looks like is key to making it happen. Yes, it's BUSY. But I have 4 kids age 5 and under -- I don't expect not-busy.

I truthfully feel so much better now that I have this written down! I know that if I can manage to do this (or even just most of it) every day, I will get some mojo back. I'd love to add in a few other things like a dedicated quiet time that's not just leaning my head back on the couch and praying while I pump, regular exercise, and maybe like mopping or something??? :-)

Eh, clean floors will have to wait.

{You can print your own worksheet here. }


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