If you are like me, you didn’t expect to be doing this Single Mom journey at all. You thought you would have a partner in life that would be the Ying to your Yang and would always be there for the hand-off whether juggling household chores or managing the soccer schedules.
But life is what happens when we are busy planning, or so I’ve heard.
Instead, I have to be mom and dad, chauffeur and cook, housekeeper and bill payer and handy-woman. As such, it is difficult to get it all done, as I am the primary breadwinner, too. There is no hand-off when the dishes need to be done and the Xbox isn’t working at a crucial gaming moment. No one to drive the kids to their appointments while I make dinner or work. No one to referee another sibling-screaming-match so I can go melt down in the back room. Yep, I got no answers for you there, either. Its just me, for better or worse, until death I do part. That’s the surviving part of this journey.
The Thriving part of this journey is to raise my children, make a comfortable and inviting home, make great memories and ensure my kids have a childhood they can look back on and smile and say “Remember when…..”. There is no broken home here. This is a complete family with Mom, two kids, four dogs, assorted fish…. oh, and two frogs.
The goal is to not let the sometimes overwhelming efforts of this journey smother my joy and my sense of accomplishment that comes with all it entails. I refuse to give in to a basic colorless life and that means biting off more than I can chew at every possible occasion.
There is a question about “How do you eat an elephant”? The answer is “One bite at a time”. It’s a philosophy I share with my kids when they get overwhelmed by a school project or a reading assignment or even cleaning their rooms. One bite at a time translates into 15 minutes at a time.
I usually start my day with several lists of things I would like to accomplish. A list of items for Work, Personal/Household “To Dos” and then my Projects. I get so much joy from my projects but the other lists would keep my projects from being a priority since work and household responsibilities are crucial.
Again, I can do anything for 15 minutes.
After my lists are up-to-date, I start my timer. For 15 minutes I work on my work items that need to get addressed. I’m a bit ADD, so knowing that I only have to focus for 15 minutes, keeps me from launching a news website to chase some question that pops into my roaming mind while I wait for stuff to load for work. When the timer is done, I set it again for 15 minutes and head off to start a household chore, like laundry, or emptying the dishwasher. You would be surprised to know that it usually only takes 5 minutes to unload a dishwasher! No lie! I was surprised, too.
I can do anything for 15 minutes.
After that timer is done, I start the timer again for 15 minutes and I am back at my desk working on my work stuff. When the timer is done, I decide at that point do I need to focus on another work-related item, or should I flip the laundry, or make a grocery list, etc. Then I set the timer for 15 minutes…… You see how that works.
How do I get my projects done? Every 2 hours or so, I add in 15 minutes for a project related item. For example, today I am painting baseboards for my daughter’s room. I have set them up in my office on sawhorses and I have my supplies laid out in the Kitchen. I set that all up in the first 15 minute interval. The next time I have 15 minutes for my project, I apply a coat of paint. The next time, I apply another coat of paint. The next time, I clear my supplies and clean my brushes. Later on tonight, I will install them in my daughter’s room.
I am my most productive for 15 minutes. And, I don’t beat myself up if I don’t get it ALL done. Any progress is better than on progress at all.
This works great for a busy work week. How about the weekends? Well, if I can’t just spend all day working on my projects because of other activities, I will set the timer for 15 minutes and do what I can before the kids get up or between activities.
Is my house always clean, are my bills always paid on time….? Not always, but when I start to feel overwhelmed by what hasn’t been getting done, I make a list and set a timer. And when I feel exhausted and want to spend the entire day on the sofa watching 15 seasons of a series on Netflix, I set the timer for 30 minutes on the sofa and 15 minutes getting something done. Strangely, I do feel lazy and productive at the same time. Weird, huh? But it works for me and it can work for you too.
There are no rules, just set the timer and do what I can for 15 minutes and sometimes that is all it takes to get me over the mental hurdle that is keeping me from getting started.
Don’t just survive this Single Mom journey, Thrive!!!
Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.
Keep Calm and Thrive On!