All you can do blog

On the daily....all you can do is what you can do. - Betsy Poos

Chopping down the Overwhelm

In some ways this year has been better than the three that came before, and yet in so many ways it became hauntingly clear to me and to Jason that we were simply juggling too many things at once and always dropping something. As my blog title indicates, at the end of the day we’d slump together in bed and say, “all you can do is all you can do.” In all her brilliance this was one of Stella’s first coined phrases when she was just two.

But she’s not two anymore and in fact my baby girl will be four in just a few months time and with that I’ve felt some urgency to step back and measure how to crawl out of our overwhelmed life. Self help book to the rescue! In April I downloaded Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte. I read all of maybe 20 pages before I was overwhelmed with ideas and other priorities…digging out would have to wait.

Two weeks ago I pulled my hamstring and decided to fill my sidelined running time with reading. Call it a blessing in disguise, but I’m sure glad I got back to the book. I plucked out some great nuggets and have made some feel good adjustments in our days.

Here are my big takeaways:

Family dinner is a must.

  • Before I would make Stella her own dinner around 5pm which over the last few months she’d dwindled down her entire palate to fruit, yogurt and crackers. It seemed something new was rejected in her diet every day and as a response she was crankier and my patience was thinner and thinner.
  • Now we pre-plan meals and Stella cooks with us. I cook easy meals during the weekdays and Jason takes the lead with fancier bites on the weekends. Jason, Stella and I have dinner together by 6pm each night. We always include fruit and yogurt as sides when Stella won’t try our main dish and everybody is happy with that. We talk and eat together and Stella’s tantrums seem to be lessened.
  • Being home and ready to eat by 6pm may be a challenge, but it clears so much space to dive back into work or treat ourselves to a deserved break in the evening.

One Parent Bedtime Routine

  • Jason and I have always shared parenting responsibilities for Stella’s bedtime, and yet we’ve always talked about how much easier she is when only one of us happens to be home.
  • With family dinners now on the schedule we were already checking that togetherness time and decided to swap “primary” parenting roles for bedtime each night. Now one of us is shooed away from 7-8pm for the bedtime hour. Stella gets one on one attention while the other parent gets much needed me time. It’s working!

Work Stays on My Laptop

  • I’m a minimalist and for years the single running icon on my desktop screen has been my plain word document with my To Do list. I write everything from the minute to the big down so it doesn’t have to clutter my brain and I get so much satisfaction out of deleting items off the list.
  • In January I took my work email accounts off my iPhone. I aim to download messages a max of three times a day on my laptop and respond and delete as quickly as possible. I know I spin out of control when I have more than 20 emails in my inbox and I institute cleanup time everyday.
  • Sure I write a blog, maintain my personal and business Facebook, twitter, and instagram accounts…but I don’t do it from my phone. This is new to me this week and I love the change.   The status updates, 140 character zingers, and cute pictures are still there when I look twice a day rather than 20.

Play More

  • What a great reminder this was in Schulte’s book. I am committed to play more fully and openly. From family trips to the zoo, the spontaneous outdoor yoga pose just because, and reaching out to girlfriends for a drink or a trapeze class – it’s on.

Focus on the Big Stuff

  • The hardest to do, but the shortest to write. Don’t get lost in the million little things that get in the way. I am refocused on the top five percent.