I've been over-analyzing my parenting since about six months before we brought our kids home. Part of this is because I have every bibliophile's secret belief that somewhere there exists a book that will solve all my problems. It might be fiction, it might be nonfiction, but if I just read enough, I'm bound to find the passage that makes me think, "Oh! THAT'S what I need to do instead!"
It only got worse when I discovered blogging. Pioneer Woman was my gateway drug, back when adoption was still something we discussed from time to time. Once I was fully launched on this journey, I started obsessively seeking out blogs of people who had adopted from the same country. Upon return, I discovered the therapeutic parenting blogs, not to mention the regular ol' Mommy blogs. I found solace in others' stories, whether the poignant AnyMommy or the hilarious Put Down the Urinal Cakes, now more primly named (but no less joyfully rowdy in content) BethWoosely.
Then I found the blogs that ask me to do something. To Carry On, Warrior, which frankly is challenging enough. To Stop Yelling, although actual yelling is not how my inner Scary Mean Mommy comes out. To be a Hands Free Mama, while being Creative with Kids. And now...to Ban Busy.
Seriously? I work full time; I have two high needs kids; I have a house and a yard and family and friends and I keep meaning to knit that baby shower blanket for a kid who's already five months old and to take my kids to the food bank to help out and then there's this blog I'd like to write more in...ban busy? Really?
But I'm trying, and here's what I've learned in the past week or so.
1. A lot of my busy-ness is actually time wasting. The odds are I'm not going to just sit and stare into space, so HOW I spend my time is the important question. Instead of staying an extra hour at work, screwing around on my computer, I shut down, come home, and play with my kids. I begin my 45 minute free period each day with a five minute walk around the building. It makes my plan time feel more productive to use those five minutes as my unwind, instead of staring blankly at my screen and trying to think of what I need to accomplish. I know this already, of course, that it's important to spend my time on things that actually matter to me, but I'd let myself get distracted by Instant Gratification Monkey far too often recently.
2. Paradoxically, I am better able to Ban Busy if I take more time for planning. If I have menus planned for the week, it frees up mental space and last-minute-errand time. If I figure out ahead of time when I can take a 2 or 5 minute meditation break, it actually happens. Planning also allows for flexibility. (Paradox II: The Sequel) I had a menu plan. My husband went ahead and started dinner before I got home, making something not on my list. The menu I had planned gets bumped out a day, so there is one less day to plan for next week. We've got the kids in a good routine of getting a certain amount of homework done each day. Today was the first warm day of the year, so the Winemaker let them get out the slip-n-slide without insisting on chores and homework first, and they will still be able to get it all done in time.
3. Sleep is very important. Again, no shit, Sherlock. But paying this close of attention to how I'm spending my time makes it easier for me to see that when I'm dragging, I'm inefficient, disconnected, and generally blah. When I make myself go to bed on time, I have more enthusiasm for actually doing the things that make me happy, instead of the things that require the least effort.
I'm not "all better" yet, nor will I ever be. I have been putting off returning my dad's error-ridden death certificates to the state so they can issue us new ones for, oh, six-eight weeks now. It's a simple enough matter of putting two pieces of paper in a manila envelope, addressing it, and mailing it, but it sounds so exhausting every evening, so dull each weekend. I still find myself doing dinner-dishes-homework with the kids more than simply playing with them . But we're reading Harry Potter at dessert each night, and bedtimes suddenly seem smooth again after getting wonky for a while there.
I don't know; I guess it's all First World Problems, but dangit, that's where I live. I took a walk around the parking lot while the kids were at Tae Kwon Do. The strip mall lot backs onto a wetland, and I was serenaded by red winged blackbirds as I tromped along the asphalt. I could have used the time to play games on my phone, or to grade papers. Another night I might do either of those things. Tonight, I banned busy and just enjoyed the evening sun.