Saturday, March 22, 2014

Whew...What a Week!

The past few weeks have been particularly overwhelming for me.  I've had a lot going on between work and home, parents, and kids, volunteer obligations and well...this blog.  It seems as though there was something going on every night, or something I had to do or get done, as opposed to just relaxing. 

As I went through this last week, I began to wonder how I ever got all of this stuff done while the kids were all at home.  I mean, those were 3 extra people demanding my attention everyday. Sure, our son, Adam,  is here now and our son, Christian, and daughter, Alex, are only a half hour away, but its not the same as having the every day demands as soon as you walk in the door from work at night.

I was also reminded of when we were first married, my husband, Roger, would feel so overwhelmed and feel pulled in all different directions.  I remember him telling me he didn't know how he could give it all to everyone. I wanted his time.  His biological children, Alex and Adam, wanted his time.  He wanted to build a relationship, with my son, Christian, and that took time.  Work wanted his time too, and those were just the basics. This didn't even include, alone time, or work out time, or time at church or with friends. That's how I felt this week especially.  How do I give everyone some of my time, and what about me? Can I have some time for me too?

So how do you do it?  How do you get through these stretches, where you feel like all you have is no time?  Well, to start, you take one day at a time.  You can't do what has to be done on Wednesday, until you get to Wednesday, so it doesn't do any good to worry about it today. With that said, I'm not telling you to procrastinate or not be prepared.  I suggest that you keep a calendar.  One of the best things I ever purchased when our kids were home was this Mom's Family Calendar. Disclosure:  I am neither promoting nor endorsing calenders.com, I'm just telling you what worked for me.   This calendar had a column for each person in the family, for each day of the month.  I knew who had what going on when - it was GREAT! 

Now that you know what is going on because of your calendar, make things easy on yourself.  If you have to bring a snack to next week's event, bring something that is easy for you. I brought fruit last week for a snack.  I didn't even cut it up myself....I bought it at the grocery store.  Don't judge me. I mean,  I did add some coconut and almonds, but the truth is, I just couldn't find it in me to make something super creative.  I think everyone liked it, as there was very little left.  Is making a fancy snack the most important thing?  Probably not... Now, I'm not saying bring a bag of chips as your snack, let's at least put some effort into it, but it doesn't have to be a soufflĂ© either. 

OK, so, now you've got your calendar, you know what is going on with everyone, and you're making things easier on yourself.  What's next?  Now, you need to schedule some time in for you and your spouse, and for you and your kids, and for you. I know it sounds so corny, and I always hated hearing people say it when we were first married.  The truth is, if you don't schedule it, you won't do it.  Your marriage and  the foundation you are building with your spouse is the most important one in this family.  Without it, you're just a bunch of people living together in the same house. After you have time scheduled with your spouse, schedule some with your biological child(ren) and then your step-child(ren). Even if it is just a bike ride, taking them to lunch, or going to the grocery store, the quality of time together is important, not the quantity.

Finally, schedule some time for yourself.  Maybe its getting up a half hour early to enjoy a cup of coffee (or tea) alone, in silence. Or, maybe it is staying up a half hour later to read in the quiet.  Maybe its going for a run or going to the gym. Whatever it is that you enjoy doing for you - schedule it, because it is just as important as giving your time to others. Without taking this time for yourself, you won't have anything to give anyone else.

Your schedule is full, so step back and take a deep breath.  You can do this!  Take one item at a time, do it, enjoy it, finish it, and move on to the next adventure. We only have one go around on this earth. We so often get so consumed with all the things we have to do that we forget to enjoy them.  I am the queen at this. I get so wrapped up in thinking about the next thing that needs to get done that I rush, rush through what we are doing now, only to end up looking back realizing I didn't enjoy it like I could have (or should have). Instead, be in the moment, enjoy it to its fullest, and when it is done move onto the next thing and enjoy it just as much.  When you get to the end, you are left with only a memory, a memory of what you enjoyed, or a memory of what you missed. What do you want to remember?   

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Over Analyzed

I can be a little bit overly sensitive about fairness sometimes.  Maybe its because I'm the youngest in my family and quite often things did not seem fair in my eyes growing up.  I have also heard that the youngest in the family tries to be the soother or interceder in all things family.  They want to make sure everyone is happy and doesn't want anyone to feel left out.  My husband, Roger and I, are both the youngest of our siblings, so maybe much of these characteristics have carried over into our careers as parents. 

Our son, Adam, was discussing his work schedule with us this week.  It is also a week of late night work for Roger, and so I chimed in that I would be home alone one night, but the next night, Adam piped up that he would be home for dinner.  My over-analytical mind went to work: That was Thursday night that Adam would be home for dinner.  I had already asked, our son, Christian if he wanted to go out to dinner Thursday night.  We hadn't made definite plans yet, but Christian can sometimes be last minute.  I could invite Adam to with us, but it was kind of a mother-son night and that is important too.  If Christian decides Thursday works for him, I don't want Adam to think I made these plans because I don't want to have dinner at home with him.  Should I say something?  I should just be honest.  So, after this brief but deep,10 second debate in my head, I said, " Hey, Adam, I already asked Christian if he wanted to have dinner with me Thursday night, so if we do, I don't want you to think its because I don't want to have dinner with you."   Adam kind of chuckled and said....Ok....and went on to let me know that even if I called him Thursday afternoon and said we were going out to dinner, he wouldn't have thought it was because I don't want to have dinner with him.  Hmmm....maybe I over analyze things a little bit.  Maybe I think too much about whether or not I am being fair, reasonable, and impartial on all things blended family.  Maybe...I am making this more complicated than it needs to be.

When our kids were little, it was very important to be fair and impartial and make sure no one felt left out. As our family has grownup, Adam's response tells me that they have matured to know that we love them...period, and that sometimes we spend time together, sometimes we spend it with one kids, two kids, red kids, blue kids, biological kids, step kids, or just parents alone.  It is still important to be fair, but fair isn't always equal or the same.  By being the most fair we knew how from the start, our kids know we will continue to be that way going forward, but, as Adam demonstrated, we probably don't have to explain ourselves along the way.  

I am still glad I said something to Adam.  It is better to communicate unnecessarily, than to not say anything and cause question or doubt.  What are you communicating?  Do your kids or spouse know your intentions?  Are you being fair, or is it every 'man' for himself?  If you don't know how your doing, hold a family meeting and ask for feedback.  When your kids feel like they are providing input, they will feel valued and part of the family.  Either that, of they will groan about their love/hate relationship with family meetings and you'll know that is a true family you have on your hands. 

Stay tuned for more on family meetings.