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Oregon Family Magazine

NOT Getting It All Done!

08/02/2010 09:33PM ● By Anonymous
She has a hot breakfast ready for her family before they awaken each morning, the laundry is done, folded, hung, and ironed. Her home looks like a spread in Better Home and Gardens (including the days unannounced visitors arrive!) She’s always the first person called to chair an event, and the “go-to” mom in case of an emergency – she’s Super Mom! She’s the poster mom for “Getting It All Done” perfection and the envy of all other moms.

Just about every busy mom knows one or two of these moms, makes the comparison, and may feel like she could and should do more. The question is, should she be doing more? According to all the balance, multi-tasking, organizing, time management, and scheduling information out there, the answer is yes. During the last forty to fifty years the role of women, wives, and mothers has evolved into a more than full-time job. In fact, many women can realistically say they have more than two full-time jobs when employment, motherhood, and household manager all come into play – even if they only work on a part-time basis for an employer, or are self-employed in some capacity and still don’t manage to get it all done. In the process women are more stressed out, eating poorer, depressed, fatigued, and overwhelmed than ever.

Research shows heart disease is the leading cause of death in women. Forty to fifty years ago, it used to be the leading cause of death in men. However, as working moms have taken on more of a role in the financial contributions of the household, and stay at home moms allow dads to focus on their work --knowing mom will handle the kids and all of their needs, they’ve taken some of the pressure off of their spouses. In addition, research also shows that spending time with loved ones in an environment where fun is shared is quite therapeutic. In two parent homes, with women contributing greater, or equally to the family coffers, and handling more of the formerly traditional male household responsibilities like financial planning, lawn/garden maintenance, home remodeling and repairs, etc., men are able to spend larger quantities of their free time with their families. The effects are a better quality of life – for them. How does this translate for moms? The quest for Super Mom status needs to go by the wayside. There needs to be more balance in their lives; not between work and family, office and home life, but between work of all types and totally free downtime. In essence, there is something to be said for NOT getting it all done!

Taking Care of the Important Stuff What are the ramifications of not getting it all done? Will the world stop revolving, will the household fall apart, will the other mother’s all gasp in horror? No. Maybe, and possibly! The hardest part will be to let the floor go un-mopped until Wednesday, instead of mopping daily, cooking a few meals on the weekend and having leftovers instead of cooking each night, having the family help out more each day instead of doing everything for them. The key will be learning to accept your new non-Super Mom status and embracing this lifestyle change. The upside is, your sanity will in time be restored, your level of fatigue will eventually decrease, and you will have more time to enjoy your family – in all of their imperfect glory.

Life’s Lessons Not only will you free yourself from the quest for perfectionism, but you will teach your family valuable life skills in the process. Children will learn to become self-sufficient. If a child never learns how to make a bed properly, do laundry the correct way, or how to cook, there’s an overwhelming chance that as an adult they won’t have these skills either. Thus, their dorm mates, roommates, spouses, etc. will have to teach them, clean up after them, or nag them. You’ll be saving them from grief down the road. Do you remember how good it feels master a task yourself? You’ll be providing them with a chance to build self-esteem. In addition, you’ll be providing your children with the greatest gift you can, the gift of time with you when you’re not stressed out, rushed, short-tempered, and can be relaxed and present. Not only will you provide them with true quality time, but lasting memories, and a strong foundation upon which to model their own parenting behaviors.

Putting the Not Getting It All Done Plan into Action The way to do this is not to squeeze more things into shorter time periods or organize better, the solution is to start crossing nonessentials off the to-do lists. If it’s not important, crucial, etc. let it go! Learn to be okay with not accomplishing every detail yourself.

Moms would have an easier time if they remembered the secret of successful entrepreneurs – delegation. Once the non-essentials are removed, review the remaining list and start delegating tasks, chores, and responsibilities. Not only should appropriate tasks be delegated to family members, but jobs that can be handled by others should be farmed out as well. Not only does this mean humans, but if possible use automation to make your life easier. Can you pay bills online, schedule home pick-up for parcels, or have groceries ordered and delivered? If so, use the tools available to make life easier.

Determine how much time you have in a day and how much time you have available to accomplish your tasks. Don’t over schedule yourself. No one likes to see a list of 20 items that must be done in one hour. (Talk about creating a self-fulfilling prophecy for failure and unnecessary urgency!) Choose 3 – 5 things that are critical and reschedule the rest as crucial items if/when they are needed on another day, or someone else’s to-do list. Too many things are deemed necessary when they are merely wishlist items.

Go back to the paper and pen or dry erase board on the refrigerator for grocery lists and other store purchased items and rely on technology less. The cell phone is a blessing and a curse. Eliminate daily stops to the grocery store, by asking not to be called to pick up items on the way home, unless dire, like toilet paper! If it’s not on the list, it can be added for the next week’s excursions. How much valuable time would you be able to salvage by eliminating unscheduled trips each week?

The most important thing is to learn how to say no. If it doesn’t fit into your schedule, it will make a schedule too tight to accomplish your goals, or will simply make you harried – say NO! Helping out is a noble endeavor, but if it sacrifices your quality of life, jeopardizes your health, or negatively impacts your short and/or long term goals is it worth it? Be truthful, ask if there is someone else who can do it in your stead, suggest someone you know who may have time (after conversing with them), or simply decline if you can’t do it and don’t feel guilty about it. Guilt is almost as bad as stress on the body and the goal is to create a better quality of life by de-stressing and finding time for you.

The key is to lighten the load to allow for more downtime for mom. Shed the “Super Mom” cape and recapture time for self. Learn to accept the fact that you are one person with the same 24 hours available as everyone else each day. It is no longer acceptable to fill each hour of the day with activities that drain the soul and do nothing to recharge, stimulate, or soothe the mind, body, and spirit. In the end, learning to let go and accept not get it all done is a way to better plan, organize, and delegate the musts, and a way to help others in your life learn how to become independent and self-sufficient. It’s a way to reclaim time for self, which will make for a more relaxed and healthier you. Don’t you think it’s time for a positive change? Imagine the possibilities!

Kim Green-Spangler is a freelance writer, columnist, blogger, budding author, wife and mother. She has written hundreds of articles for various websites on topics specific to women and moms, exercise enthusiasts, small and home-based business owners and homeschoolers. She can be contacted at www.