Friday, April 16, 2010

Doing It All

Its been a tough tough week in the Caitlyn Nicholas household.  Lots of things up in the air, masses of uncertainty, kids ratty due to change in routine from school to holidays, house in upheaval (ie messy) and my routine totally screwed due to the kids being home - this basically means bread isn't being made, lunch is junk food, dinner is late, veges are frozen peas if you're lucky and instead of writing in the evening I'm collapsing in an exhausted heap on the couch and eating icecream.

Breaking out of this kind of situation is always devilishly difficult.  Those bad habits that you've spent weeks changing come roaring back, worse than before. Suddenly its all too much and far far too overwhelming.

I like to think that I'm an expert in being overwhelmed.  I manage it on a stunningly regular basis.  Stunningly.  Just when I scrabble myself a centimeter of breathing space, there I go, filling it up with things.
On a completely unrelated note: The chinese word for things is 东西 (pronounced dongxi), on their own the first character means East and the second West.  Its always been one of my fave Chinese words. East West = Things. Neat huh?
Anyway, back to being overwhelmed.  I've seen in a couple of blogs lately women talking about how full their lives are and how they get all tangled up in the having and the being.  As in Having It All and Being It All.

The first blog post I saw was Eat at Dixibelles -  where Dixibelle is discussing Is it Possible To Do It All.  My hard won answer to that is an emphatic NO. I tried to have it all, and be it all, and do it all.  I then burnt out, in such a state of exhaustion that eighteen months later I am still recovering. There is no such thing as balance when you are trying to do it all, and there is no way TO balance doing it all.

The second blog post was Down To Earth - where Rhonda has some great advice for yet another woman so overwhelmed she doesn't know which way to turn.

I nodded my head through these two posts. I knew the situations these women talked of. I'd been there and paid a very high price when I didn't slow down, lower my goals and forget about the To Dos that were not essential.

I am not saying that I've somehow magically risen above my tendency and desire to want to do it all.  However, you may have noticed - I mentioned it in passing the other week - that I quit University a few weeks ago.  Tough, tough decision.  You have no idea how tough.  But, I was overwhelmed and I have learned the hard way that when I have taken on too much I need to cut back immediately before I fall apart.  Uni was stressing me out, keeping me awake and making me snappy with the kids and hubby because I was trying to do too much.

But this time, instead of struggling on, convincing nobody I was coping, being a bitch to the family and handing in half-assed work (okay well I hadn't handed any in yet, but it would've been). I took control. Put my family and myself first and made the hard decision.

So here we see that I have learned from past fuck-uppages. I do wish, deeply wish that other women could learn from my disasters. (To the extent that I have written about it in a book called Why Didn't Anybody Tell Me - more on that another day).  But I know where they are at. I wouldn't have listened two years ago, it fact I'd  have shot them down in flames.  It is so hard when you are overwhelmed to see the light, to figure out what needs to give, to find space to breathe.

Which brings me to this week.

This time I'm overwhelmed due to things totally beyond my control. Even as I have written this post, two more money-related stresses have racked up, I've had a spat with hubby, and hubby has been offered a new job which is brilliant (totally beyond brilliant actually, but I'll do another post about it) but brings a whole new host of stresses. Also spat was resolved due to job news and top secret special surprise celebration dinner that am about to make.

So, where do look for help??

Several blogs in fact...
  • The Parenting Passageway: In between the posts on homeschooling there is wonderful, amazing advice for relationships with children, husbands and family.  The parts on gentle discipline with children are full of good ideas on how to 'change the tune' if conflict with your kids has arrived at an impasse.  This blog reminds me that its my health (mental and physical) and then my children's which come first. 
  • Down To Earth: Rhonda used to try and do it all, she used to be a chronic multi-tasker.  Then she made the decision to stop and live differently. Down to Earth is her story and oodles of great advice that she's learned along the way.  I too was a chronic multi-tasker, but now I just do one thing at a time, and it has made the world of difference to how I approach being a SAHM. 
  • Smitten Kitchen and Not Without Salt : Whose awesome recipes get me back in the kitchen (my zen place to be - well most of the time), and make my husband love me more.
  • Dooce.com : Who makes me laugh until I cry, cheer her every victory, envy her taste in just about everything, and reminds me that being open and honest about yourself is a good good thing.
So there you have it.  These blogs don't change my current situation, right now only outside forces can do that, but they do remind me that my approach to the situation is going to make all the difference in the world to how I cope with it and how the whole family comes out of it.

:)

14 people love me:

Sue, Joe and Michael Webber said...

Sounds like you're in the 'right lane'!! I sometimes think that the phrase 'multi tasker' has an entirely different meaning, I think it means: there are too many things on the go, too many things started and not finished and no end in sight. So if that's the case then it's men who are the multi taskers and we are just trying to keep it altogether. Sometimes you've just got to let it all go and focus on one thing at a time. Even wonder woman would have got stressed doing what you were doing, she would have hit the icecream bigtime and then she would have been bulging outta her little outfit eh!

Anna said...

Great post. I used to think I could do it all too. Turns out I can't. And I 'm not sure I want it all anymore anyway.
Sometimes you need to just take one day at a time and 'just survive'.
Thanks for the links to those blogs too, am off to have a look.

FoodMuster said...

Hey, you sound like me, which is what I needed today! I just wish my hubby came home telling me that he got an amazing job offer!!! Life gets crappy sometimes, but its up to us on how we deal with it. Good on you for taking control and making a decision for you. Its hard sometimes. Anyway I love your blog and I'm following it now:) Take care

FoodMuster said...

Ps, shows you how crazy my life gets, I forgot I already follow you, Duh!!!

Mel said...

Great post, Caitlyn. There are so many of us out there trying to do it all and failing. Why do we do it to ourselves? Who knows. You should be proud of yourself for making the decision that was best for you.

Sami Lee said...

I too have been found guilty of trying to do it all because I thought I was just that bit more capable than everyone else. Last year was a very stressful year for me in that regard, but I finally learned how to ask (nay, demand!) help from those around me, help I have every right to expect. The difference it's made in my day to day life is phenomenal, even thought I know I'm still feeling the effects of the mental exhaustion as well. Still need a little more 'me' time I suppose (must take myself off for a massage...).

Sorry to hear about the uni course, but I think you did the right thing. Uni will still be there if and when you are ready to take the step in future. Believe me, you already do plenty and ought to be proud of it.

Cheers,
Sami

gavgams said...

Know thyself.. tick
Examined life... tick
Love for family... tick

Full life and copping probs.. not just a woman's dilema

Have you read Small Wonder, Barbara Kingsolver? Fantastic.

Ro said...

Us mothers have to stop being superwomen to realise we're super women already ;)

Cate P said...

Wonderful post Caitlyn, and found myself nodding through it, just as you have nodded through others.
Perhaps you need to try some of my Magic Lazy Dust, works wonders in curing the need to do all, be all, have all. I learned :)

Emma said...

A great post Caitlyn. Congratulations on the honorable mention for the comp! :)

Emma said...

A great post Caitlyn. Congratulations on the honorable mention for the comp! :)

Ro said...

Us mothers have to stop being superwomen to realise we're super women already ;)

Cate P said...

Wonderful post Caitlyn, and found myself nodding through it, just as you have nodded through others.
Perhaps you need to try some of my Magic Lazy Dust, works wonders in curing the need to do all, be all, have all. I learned :)

Sue, Joe and Michael Webber said...

Sounds like you're in the 'right lane'!! I sometimes think that the phrase 'multi tasker' has an entirely different meaning, I think it means: there are too many things on the go, too many things started and not finished and no end in sight. So if that's the case then it's men who are the multi taskers and we are just trying to keep it altogether. Sometimes you've just got to let it all go and focus on one thing at a time. Even wonder woman would have got stressed doing what you were doing, she would have hit the icecream bigtime and then she would have been bulging outta her little outfit eh!