There have been plenty of days when I’ve fantasized of a time that I could write a blog post telling you all how I finally felt like a responsible, capable adult- the kind who regularly cleans house, wakes early, cooks dinner, and doesn’t feel like she could burst into tears or have a panic attack at the thought of everything on her to-do list.
And that I’d be able to tell you how you can become that person, too (if you’re not already).
I’m not saying today is that day, or this post is that post, but let me describe this to you:
I woke up at 6:55 this morning to get Kendall to school. The house was a mess. Like a gross mess with nasty dishes and food all over the kitchen. The lunches weren’t made. I got a little less than 6 hours of sleep last night. And I am majorly behind on some big work projects thanks to Scott’s travel schedule and sick kids last weekend.
Me one year ago would have been in a sour mood this morning, snapping at Kendall to hurry, hurry, hurry while I threw together his lunch. I would have come home and had a pot of coffee before taking the other two to preschool. And then I would have walked in the door, took one look at the mess, thought for 30 seconds about my inbox and what I’m behind on, and I would have just… froze. I likely would have just taken a nap and called the day a loss, knowing I’d be too exhausted to focus on anything anyway.
The nap wouldn’t have helped things, as I’d feel even more guilty and overwhelmed when I woke to get the kids from school, knowing I wasted an entire work day. My sour mood would continue, and I’d do what I could to avoid both the mess in the kitchen, and the mess in my inbox.
Instead, this is what me TODAY did:
I pushed the mess aside, made lunches, and sent Kendall off with a smile. I had to hurry him a bit, as is usual, but it didn’t feel like a tortuous task. I drank coffee because some things can’t ever change. Then after taking the other two to preschool I came home and I just started moving. One thing at a time. I picked up, made beds, did the dishes, wiped the counters, ran some laundry.
I thought about my workload as I was cleaning, but I knew I work best in non-cluttered, non-smelly spaces. The blog post could wait until lunch, the emails can wait until after that. The project will get done. It will.
See, the me-this-year can actually understand that just because you can’t get everything done RIGHT NOW, doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. The me-this-year understands that the best way to accomplish things, is to just start. Most days I don’t have much of a plan, but the days that I’m the most productive, I literally just MAKE myself do SOMETHING.
I tell myself, “just start picking up. Do it for 15 minutes.” And soon, it’s been 1.5 hours and the house is pretty damn clean because I just kept going.
I tell myself, “just answer 4 emails. Do it for 15 minutes.” And soon, I’m putting together pitches and brainstorming ideas because I just kept going.
The me this year has the ability to START.
Seriously, I am forever grateful that I am at this point now when this time last year I felt so, so, so overwhelmed and stuck… and just unable to get started.
I don’t know what exactly has helped. I have to think it’s a combination of a lot of things.
For starters, this time last year was when I recognized that I needed to talk to my midwife about the reappearance of postpartum anxiety, and I’ve been on meds for about a year. I think that has been HUGE.
It’s very possible that the Whole 30 has helped, too. I credit it with energy during the day like I haven’t experienced in a long time.
Beyond that, though, starting last spring, I really began to make myself and my peace of mind a priority. Nearly all the money I made blogging went right back into stuff to make my life less hectic.
I paid for and delegated things that were weighing me down, but needed to get done. (New blog design, media kit, etc.) I even brought on a super talented assistant for a while to help me dig out of the mountain of emails.
We also hired a nanny for a short time, until we could get Lowell in Mothers Day Out, and then had a housekeeper come regularly.
So I wasn’t profiting much at all in the last year in terms of money, but I was profiting big-time in terms of sanity, and laying the groundwork for growth.
Let me pause and say that I recognize what a tremendous privilege that is– to be able to have the means to take care of myself and my family like that. I know it’s not something everyone can do, and that is why this is not that post I dreamed about– the one where I tell you all how I did it, and how you can do it, too.
The truth is, I don’t know exactly how you can feel like me-today if right now you feel like me-last-year. I’m not going to tell you the only path to happiness is to hire a housekeeper (which, BTW, we haven’t used since moving into the new house because we actually feel more motivated- for now- to keep this place clean ourselves).
Here’s what I do know, though:
Understand that it takes time. Don’t tell yourself you must get everything done/cleaned/organized/answered over a weekend. You’ll just end up feeling like a failure all over again.
Make yourself a priority. Don’t give up time at the gym or doing fun activities because you tell yourself you need to spend that time doing tasks that overwhelm you. Take care of yourself first- and this goes for ALL of you, from your mind to what you eat (can not recommend the Whole 30 enough). Seriously, be GOOD to yourself.
Ask for help. This could mean asking a friend to come over and help your de-clutter. It could mean asking your partner to wake up with the baby more so you’re getting more sleep. It could mean asking for recommendations for a therapist. Don’t take this on on your own.
Start. It will be tough, but tell yourself to just start. Do SOMETHING. Something small. And don’t be mad if all you can do is that small thing. All the small things will add up.
I am not saying that I’m the responsible grownup who isn’t flakey, who stays on top of dishes, and doesn’t get overwhelmed anymore. That’s still who I am, and will likely always be.
I AM saying that, mostly- at this point, I’m the kind of person who understands that a bad day can be left in the past, and it’s okay to only use 50% of the pages in my planner, and that none of that should keep me from being able to wake up tomorrow, make a to-do list, get half of it done, and call that a success.
I have the ability to start.