The Honest Mommy

Uncensored thoughts on parenting & more

Trying to alleviate yucky, anxious feelings July 11, 2011

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve had trouble with anxiety. Not “worrying” that something bad will happen, like a car crash, but more of a generalized feeling of anxiety that feels like butterflies in my stomach or tightness in my chest.

I’ve had a lot of this anxiety today. I realized that it may stem, in part, from all of the loose ends and unfinished business I have right now. What does the rest of July look like? What still needs to be done to plan my son Adam’s birthday party? What steps can I take right now to move certain projects forward? Which projects can be put on the back burner for now? How and when will I get back on the low-carb wagon (low carb is how I manage my weight and my health)? When will I work on photos from our recent European trip?  What’s for dinner tonight?

At the moment, I’m insisting that the kids play outside so that I can work out some of these things. I do get pretty antsy when I want the kids to just play on their own for awhile so that I can work on things. Surely mothers of previous generations did not spend their days constantly entertaining their kids and taking them on fun outings — there were too many other things to do!

 

Down in the dumps and off-track lately October 19, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 7:24 pm
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The last 1-2 weeks have been unusually busy (out-of-town doctor appointment; MIL visiting; son Mark’s birthday party) and I have been way off-track with eating, exercising, and housekeeping.

In general, I’ve been feeling more like taking a break (giving myself a vacation?) than dealing with real life. And while it is important to take breaks, I also find that if I spend too much time off duty, it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle where the house gets messier and messier, and I feel less and less like dealing with it. The cupboards get more and more bare, and I feel discouraged about meal-planning, so I put off going to the grocery store. Etc. etc.

On the GTD end of things, I have been letting “stuff” accumulate in my inboxes, while also ignorning my whiteboard and GTD coordinator (where my lists live). As a result, I dread the process of catching up, and I put off the processing of everything. Another self-perpetuating cycle.

Eating right and exercising also become part of a negative cycle. And with all kinds of candy and sweets in the house … yikes.

So yes, I have been way off track and down in the dumps lately. Today I am making a very good effort to stop these negative cycles and get back on the right track, while also keeping in mind the need to take breaks and take care of myself.

 

Checking email when I already have unprocessed “stuff” around September 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 4:46 pm
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Here’s a question that just popped into my mind.

When I have unprocessed stuff around that I still need to deal with (notes, ideas for projects, etc.), then why do I sit down to check my email, where I will potentially have more “new stuff” come my way that I have to process?

I guess one reason that I check my email under these circumstances is that I’m wondering whether someone – Hubby, friend, etc. – has sent a reply to me that will answer a question for me or move a project forward.

Another reason is that I tend to sit down at my computer when I am taking a break, and naturally I tend to check my email at that time.

And, finally, there is new “stuff” coming in daily via email that I want/need to deal with in a timely manner, such as friends making plans to go out to dinner that night.

But it still leaves me in a bit of a quandary when I sit down to check my email and find a new item, such as a friend wondering about making plans to take a trip. I could decide to leave it unread until later; or, read it and see whether I can deal with it in two minutes or less; or, read it and put a stake in the ground somewhere to remind me that I need to deal with/reply to that email.

I am certainly not at black-belt level when it comes to email, but I am thankful that I am, at the very least, aware of the pitfalls that email can create.

 

Wanted: David Allen, to shadow me for a week September 7, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 2:08 am
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It occurred to me today, as I was paging through David Allen’s Ready for Anything, that it would be fascinating to have someone like David Allen shadow me, a lowly SAHM, for a day — or better yet, a week.

What I wouldn’t give to get his input on how I could improve my implementation of GTD, and how to optimize my productivity given my working conditions.

As every mom knows, the working conditions may include any or all of the following

  • sleep deprivation
  • lack of control over the day’s schedule, due to things such as child getting sick or waking up from a nap in a demonic state; child skipping a nap or waking up early from a nap
  • limited ability to complete any given task, due to interruptions (child needs snack, potty help, conflict intervention; child unable to occupy him/herself; child getting into mischief)
  • copious amounts of time required for mundane tasks like: laundry, picking up toys, wiping up messes, cleaning kitchen, prepping food, grocery shopping
  • feelings of guilt and uncertainty over not spending more time with the kids: reading to them, playing with them, etc.
  • limited living space (a.k.a., small house) with limited space and resources for storage and organization of necessities — everything from measuring spoons to winter boots
  • limited financial resources for adapting the home to the family’s needs
  • limited financial resources for hiring outside help for childcare, cleaning, etc.

When I think about what areas of responsibility a mother has, especially a SAHM who may not get sufficient time and space to clear her head, plan her day, and so on, it is no wonder how frazzled and overwhelmed I feel sometimes.

David Allen, if you are reading this, please come alongside me for awhile!

 

GTD and FlyLady: What they look like in my life right now

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 1:45 am
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Lately I’ve been spending some time revamping my use of GTD and thinking about my time, priorities, and so on. I did some looking into Mind Organization for Moms, which is based on GTD, and while I didn’t buy their system, I did realize that I could improve some of my GTD strategies/tools.

I have a large dry erase board next to my kitchen, and I re-claimed it from whatever junk had been cluttering it up. On the board I now have a daily checklist for my 5-year-old son, Adam, to help ensure that certain things get done every day, preferably as early in the day as possible. Having this checklist helps Hubby and me to be on the same page about “where we’re at”; it also helps Hubby to be aware of what things need to be done (brush teeth/get dressed/take meds/put on eye patch), particularly for mornings when it’s Hubby’s turn to get up with the kids. My day gets off to a good start when I come downstairs and find that things are rolling along nicely. I am a big believer that we are both responsible for our kids and that it is not solely my responsibility to do things like give Adam his meds or put his eye patch on.

I also set up areas on the dry erase board for Next Actions (@Phone, @Computer, @Errands) and Waiting and Current Projects. In one corner I have a space for a basic plan for the day [Baths for Kids (Yes/No), Mom to Gym (Yes/No), Dinner Plan].

Overall I’m finding it quite handy to have all of these things right in front of me all the time. I still keep lists in my GTD Coordinator, and it does feel sort of strange to have things “living” in the Coordinator and on my dry erase board, but somehow it all works. It seems that I have so many interruptions in my day that by the time I open up my GTD Coordinator and find the proper page and find a pen, my chance to complete my thought is already gone and my 2-year-old is running off with my pen. Since the board is out of the reach of my toddler, and markers are always at the ready, I can easily jot down a Next Action or erase an item. (To think I used to take such things for granted!)

On the board I have my daily FlyLady list (Kitchen/Bathroom/Laundry/Floors) and it’s nice to check these things off as I complete them. I have never figured out how to get these things done first thing in the morning, but they are generally my first priorities in the day even if they don’t get done until lunchtime.

In Ready for Anything, David Allen (the creator of GTD) talks about how the brain isn’t good at reminding the self to do things, therefore it’s best to have a system in place to take care of those reminders. I am finding this to be true during my daily grind: When I have a chance to work on something, instead of flipping through my mental checklist to think of what to do next, I simply glance at my board to see what remains to be done.

Granted, there is a lot more to my life than churning through a daily checklist of things to be done, but it’s difficult (impossible?) to get to the “more to life” stuff as long as I’m still wallowing in the chaos and confusion that results when the basic things are still undone.

 

Daily planning for the SAHM December 31, 2009

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The last few weeks have been very active for me in terms of decluttering and re-committing myself to GTD. I have been putting a lot more effort into ubiquitous capture, and one result of that is a very different feel to my days. It is hard to describe but I guess I could say that when I have a thought worth capturing, instead of ruminating on it and worrying about it and so on, I put it on paper (or even on my shower wall) and then move on to have even more thoughts.

A thought I had yesterday was: How useful would it be to me to go over a series of questions every morning?

Questions such as:

  • What’s for dinner? (a la FlyLady)
  • What items are on our schedule (appointments, preschool, etc.)?
  • Which child needs a bath today, and when will this bath fit into our day?
  • What time to the kids need to go to bed?
  • Are there any errands that I can, should, or need to run today?
  • Are there any phone calls or emails that I should take care of today?

I suppose this is sort of a daily planning session for the SAHM. Ideally I could also scan through my Next Actions to catch things that are especially important.

Does anyone else use a checklist to help plan their day?

 

Current state of affairs October 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — lotsofopinions @ 4:11 pm
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A lot has changed since I last put a real update on this blog.

MIL issues – she is still out of my everyday life. I’ve had one session (alone) with the family therapist my husband has been seeing about our issues with his mom. It was the best 50 minutes I have spent in a long, long time! More on that later.

Weight loss – I haven’t attended Weight Watchers meetings for a few months now. I have maintained my 30-lb weight loss fairly well (not perfectly!). The last few weeks have been really rough with stress eating. I finally made myself step on the scale this morning, and it confirmed that my choices have resulted in weight gain (duh!).

GTD (Getting Things Done system by David Allen) – I am still using my GTD Coordinator (paper planner) and am benefitting from GTD, although there are things I am NOT doing well that are having an effect on the overall benefits from GTD.

Things on my mind lately

  • I love, love, love my two kids. AND. When I am not taking care of myself (showering, eating well) and not dealing effectively with my responsibilities (keeping house clean and tidy, keeping couponing in its proper place and not letting it take up too much time but also not neglecting it to the point that I am missing the point altogether) and so on, THEN, I am unhappy, worn out, and stressed out, and I am not able to be a good parent.
  • At times, circumstances beyond my control (sick kids, bad weather, sick ME) will prevent me from properly attending to all of the items listed in the above bullet point. In that case, all I can do is recognize what is causing the downward slide, and minimize the negative factors and effects as much as I can.
  • The main factor that has been driving me crazy lately is my (almost) 1yo son, Mark. His  naps have dwindled to about 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon. He is ridiculously tired  and therefore fussy for many of his waking hours. I have had more than my fill of being interrupted from any and all tasks (whether “relaxing” or “necessary” in nature). [I am thanking my lucky stars that I am even able to type this post right now.] I can’t count how many times, in the past week or two, I have stood somewhere in my house and wondered whether Mark will be content for the next 30 seconds or 3 minutes or whatever. If just 30 seconds, what is the point of even trying to do anything? But of course, there is no way to know when his next fussy-tired-meltdown will occur, so I am constantly guessing. It really does a number on my overall happiness and mental health when I don’t have the necessary “calm” in my house to string two thoughts together, much less two tasks together. That is one challenge of motherhood that I could have never fathomed before I became a parent. I don’t know how it is for other moms, but I really and truly need my time to think, to plan, to contemplate, to pray, and, of course, to actually DO things–everything from planning meals and clipping coupons to cooking, cleaning, and doing laundry. When I have day after day of “Mom, Interrputed” I start to feel frustrated, depressed,and stressed. It’s not that I don’t want to spend time with my kids, comfort them, feed them, and so on. It’s just that I am a person, too, and I have things I need and want to get done if I am to maintain a level of sanity and personal happiness.
  • Whew, it feels good to have that all typed out. I think I’m going to quit while I’m ahead and move on to something else before I get interrupted.