As an imperfect perfectionist, one of my biggest problems is that I can NEVER do enough. I don’t mean this in an overly dramatic sense. I literally cannot physically do enough to accomplish everything that I feel should be done in a day.
Two major factors in my life make this particularly true: my job and my children. These two factors entered my life together. I had my first child the September of my first year teaching. (When I look at the timing of some of the major events in my life, I think I might be a glutton for punishment. That is a blog for another day though.)
Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids and my work very much. However, at the end of the day, I am left with a sense of all that was left undone and all that awaits me in the next.
When I was first starting out in my career and in motherhood, I received some wisdom on how to make it through these years with a shred of sanity.
1. Set a time at the end of each work day that you will not work beyond because there is ALWAYS more work that can be done.
Translation: Say no.
I know a teacher that stays at least an extra hour and a half each night planning, grading, etc. She is an excellent teacher, and she cares deeply for her students. She has been teaching for over 20 years, and she still has nights that she will stay until 8:00 pm working. If you were to ask her if she accomplished everything she needed to at the end of the day, she would reply with a list of tasks still waiting to be accomplished.
No matter what field of work you are in, there needs to be a cut off because you can always justify why you should be working. You will justify yourself into exhaustion.
It’s okay to say no to work and projects beyond a certain hour.
Say it with me now: “No.”
Doesn’t that feel good?
2. As a parent, the days are long, but the years are short.
Translation: Say “Yes.”
There have been days, especially when my children were younger, that felt like they would never end. Ever so often, I have found myself wishing for the kids’ bedtime so I could rest.
All of a sudden my baby boy is over 5 feet tall, and I can no longer shop in the children’s department for him. One of my baby girls no longer plays with toys, and my youngest baby can read and write. Somehow the long days have combined into incredibly short years.
When I am tired, my first response to my children’s requests is no. I say no to my kids without hearing what they have asked. It is just the first thing that comes out of my mouth. It takes work to say yes.
Yes, I will snuggle. Yes, I will play a game. Yes, we can read together.
I’m learning to say no to work that can wait until another day because the years of saying yes to my children will be gone in a moment.