Tag Archives: time management

the feeling of guilt

The feeling of guilt

The feeling of guilt is something every mom experiences once in a while. Mom that prospers in an office, stay-at-home mom that makes (or bakes?) doughnuts for the entire class on a special event, and mom who doesn’t do both. It’s only a matter of degree, how far is each mom willing to go and kill herself for doing something wrong or not doing something right.The root of this feeling, though, lays far beyond “mom’s feeling of guilt”. It’s more of an overall, overwhelming feeling of guilt, something that is dragged from the childhood, from bad education, from bad examples and bad teachers. But in this post I am going to focus on the feeling of guilt that grows in mom’s head, which is related to her children.

Where does the feeling of guilt come from?

Lack of self-appreciation

The feeling of guilt comes with lack of self appreciation. Lack of self appreciation comes with negative emotions. Negative emotions come with tasteless thoughts. Tasteless thoughts come with lack of consciousness (who let them in? Have you? Or have they made their way in with no permission?)

The feeling of guilt grows exponentially as a result of physical and emotional exhaustion. When nothing shines inside, when there are no ideas, no dreams and no energy. All there is are these kids running and jumping around.  And there are all the others: other moms, grand-moms, friends, unknown agents advisers and tons of other energy-suckers who have the best intentions (beware, beware, beware!) to help the poor, unqualified mom to manage her shaky life. All these unwanted guests add weight to the feeling of guilt like a huge, rotten cherry on the top of a sour cream on a outdated cookie. You got the metaphor.

Broken pattern

For the first time in her life mom has tried something new. She deeps her toes in cold water: a new job, a new project, a new dress (toes?) – it does not matter what it is. Mom, who has previously dedicated all her time most of her time to her kids suddenly takes a leap aside. Her kids, at that time, stay with the nanny, the grandma, the husband, the partner, the cat – anyone, who, naturally, is not qualified enough to treat them as they deserve to be treated (it’s all in mom’s head, definitely).

Another example is when moms scream break their patterns of behavior.For example, I see myself as a calm and caring mom. Therefore, occasional outbursts can make me feel really bad about myself. How could a meditating, balanced and conscious mom like myself break down, shout at her kids and send them to bed right away? Yep, these things happen to the calmest moms.

Secret Pride

Pride is in a way related to the previous reason – breaking the behavioral pattern. Some moms consider themselves flawless and feel secretly proud about themselves. Something they would, typically, never admit. Whether they do or do not fully acknowledge their secret pride, it is still there.Once the image of the perfect mom is distorted, for whatever reason, mom feels devastated to an extent. She has less reason to be proud of herself. She has come down from the Olympus to the harsh reality – she is the ordinary, human mom now. Ouch.

 

Why is it important to get rid of the feeling of guilt?

 

The feeling of guilt is like a worm, eating the mom from the inside. It does not let her concentrate on what is really going on at the moment. It throws her to the past over and over again, sucks her energy in gallons and adds pain and agony to what has already been experienced. Therefore, in order to make the right conclusions and go on with life, it is vitally important to cut any slightest feeling of guilt. Learn the lesson – yes. Eat myself up about it – no.

 

Techniques to kill the feeling of guilt.

There have been many teachers in my life who said “get inside this pain, feel it to the bones and then it will disappear”. Well, it does not work for me, or at least has not worked so far. Once I plunge into the pain, it becomes a never-ending story of chewing the agonizing gum of upsetting memories.

So here are my personal techniques, and maybe, they will work for you too. Consistency, as always, is the secret weapon that makes things work.

Here is what I tell myself on the rare occasions when feeling of guilt strikes me (not necessarily in this order):

 

  1. I might have been wrong as I see it now. But back then I reacted as my mind told me. I was conscious of myself (was I?), and this outburst was completely in time. Life is still good.
  2. Children know their mom is human and she gets angry. I am not a raging mom on a permanent basis. The way I expressed myself was not perfect, but it happened so. Let it be.
  3. This outburst was a good lesson for me. I let it happen because I was tired and exhausted. The lesson I have learned is – plan my day in a better way. Let myself have some more time alone. Save more energy for the evening when everybody is more tired and things might heat up.

And the most important mantra: I am still the very good mom. There will be tomorrow when we’ll have the chance to start a new day with the lessons learned. My children have learned their lesson and I have learned mine.

 

third child

How not to spoil the third child?

This article is for parents whose children outnumber them by 1. Or, in other words, parents with three growing heirs. Turning the third child into mama’s boy or papa’s girl is easier than it may seem. No matter how busy and tired the parents are, unfortunately, they still find options to spoil the youngest offspring – their third child.

When number three comes into the world it changes the family life in its unique manner. The first child crushes mom’s familiar world into pieces of happiness, fear and other mixed emotions. The second child brings in this feeling of “now we are a big family”. A different mixture of emotions and, in a combination with the first one, a lot more pressure overall. The third child, however, comes into a calm laguna called experience. Mom and Dad are a team of Special Forces. Neither sleepless nights nor the hectic routines are able to really spoil the day. The big question is now, how to manage the entire team? How to stay afloat with the older kids’ activities, homework, conversations?

Depending on the age differences, older kids can help or become an unbearable burden. Either way, the third child has the highest chances among the other kids in the family to become the infantile little mama’s boy or girl.

I see two ways to prevent that from happening:

It’s not only between the mom and the third child

The new little creature draws a ton of attention (not sure attention is measured in tons but proportionally to its weight, the amount of noise the baby creates around itself is huge).

Remember, that the older kids are still kids . If they are under the age of 15 they are still young children (even if they pretend to be the coolest and most independent creatures on earth). They watch their mom doing all sort of things.

It’s not about what I say to them (how much she loves them etc.) but more about what I do: the mimics and expression on my face, the gestures of my hands or in one word – body language.

What is the constant thought that helps me balance the hugs-and-kisses between all the kids? The idea, that they are still very young and might be jealous. The idea, that this jealousy might reduce their appreciation of the new creature and life itself.

My solution: I let them, the older kids, do the hugs-kisses work. Sing, talk, change diapers, put to sleep, feed – they can do it all. I only let them. My role in this scenario, is to watch and supervise.

Spend enough time with the older kids

Yes, I know it sounds like sci-fi, and it’s quite impossible to keep on with the same routine in the first months after birth.  The phrase “getting back to normal” sounds awkward to me, so I won’t use it here. Instead let’s say, that after some time life is settled into some new form of normal. It happens naturally, but still requires mom’s attention.

Whatever relates to the kids’ education, homework and intellectual activities should be continued just the way it was. Not only after-school activities. Habits, that used to take place before the birth of the third child: book-reading, word games, creative time. The “educational” life of the older kids should stay pretty much the same. If, before, it used to be natural (we sit and read together, no one is disturbing), now, it’s a task to complete:

  • catch the quiet moments,
  • put on hold all other business,
  • organize the older kids,
  • ignore the desire to fall into the bed and die fatigue and
  • just do it.

Sit all together and read some book, as before. Take out colored paper and cut shapes, as before. You get the idea. The older kids should not feel unnatural freedom in this sense, and the little one will slowly get used to the fact that she, sometimes, may enjoy the freedom – meaning, not eliciting the attention of the entire family after a single squeak.

This is the healthy balance that creates healthy dynamics. It teaches the teens, the toddlers and the newborns how things are run in the house. Mom’s attention and energy are precious assets that must not be wasted. This is what kids should be taught from the very beginning, in a loving and caring way of course. This is what the author of this post is trying to master.

Who will save the mom?

I’m so tired I never want to wake up again. But I’ve figured out now that it was never them that made me feel that way. It was just me, all along.”
Maggie Stiefvater, Forever

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/tired

Mom’s routine is mostly predictable. It’s the energy resources that can unpredictably end. Then she, multi tasking super-hero mom, feels on the edge of collapsing.

The sudden wave of fatigue is so spontaneous, I cannot always see it coming.

It’s not exactly that you bite off more than you can chew.

It’s more about the fact that a mom is already in the crazy agenda, moving forward slowly like heavy artillery and every shift to the side adds an unbearable weight to her every day life.

This slight shift can be anything: an unexpected project, an evening with friends that ends late at night, an exhausting day with lots of tasks and no option for anything that resembles rest… and the list goes on.

This post was inspired by an unusual wave of fatigue. It has reached a point where daily tasks and headache coincide into one painful shiny point somewhere between the hypothalamus, the Pituitary gland and the 7th chakrah.

I have created a list of virtues and evils, that help me avoid falling into the trap of self-pitying, misery and depression.

First, comes the “bad” list which consists of one thing – a thing I would almost never do.

Complaining (even to yourself) is useless and is taking your energy away.

Ever time I stand in front of the mirror (I try not to do it in the morning, not to scare the mirror), this feeling of age, time and self-criticism is covering me like a stinky mixture of negative emotions, which I did not ask for (or did I?) So here’s the thing. Every woman – mother or not – is gifted from birth in finding leaks and disadvantages in the way she looks (contrary to men, who never find any, even under a microscope).

The unhealthy self-criticism in a form of passive complaining. Do anything to avoid it, unless you want to find yourself in a loop. As for myself, I use the mirror for practical purposes only – teeth and eyebrows. The rest can wait for better times.

Silence is a true friend who never betrays.

Confucius
https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/silence.html

Another form of complaining…

…is setting a competition with other mommies discussing whose life sucks more. (Just like some old people like to boast with their diseases). My golden rule is – if there is nothing constructive and positive I can talk about, I shut up. If another mommy wants to share her misery, well, she can do it. I will listen and nod with respect.

Complaining in any form – to yourself or to others – brings you nowhere. It drains you empty without giving anything in return. For me, the mere thought of all the things I could have done rather than complaining, gives me wings and inspiration.

Now for the good list:

Postpone all possible tasks for better times – leave only the most critical ones.

By critical I mean –

    • go and get some sleep
    • pick your kids from schools (unless no one else can do it).
    • buy some cooked food, fruits, yogurts – anything that doesn’t require watching the blue gas (or the red electric stove) burning and your hand stirring, stirring, stirring… they will survive, don’t worry about it.

By non-critical I mean –

    • helping kids with homework
    • cooking (you’ll be surprised how well they can manage)
    • cleaning and doing laundry (you’ll be surprised how fast the house will turn into a mess, but… I still think it’s not critical when it comes to “saving the mom”).
    • A lot of other things I did not bother writing, because they are too unimportant, for example reading this post, checking on People You May Know in LinkedIn or staring into your smartphone.

Breath deeply and count your breaths breathing-suslik

This is a primitive but one of the most efficient, productive and available methods invented especially for exhausted moms. It chases all the junk thoughts away filling you with oxygen instead. The more self-aware I have become through the years of pain and joy, the more precious I find this method to be. It works well no matter how stressed I am and it’s sort of pulling one up by their own hair. Amazing and simple, no negative side effects.

Keep a healthy diet

hot-chocolate

This is more of a general advice applicable at all times, however, it becomes super important in moments of emotional and physical crisis. My living cells, for example, react acutely on any wrong action I take in time of weakness. Therefore, my goal is not to trigger the stomach, pancreas, liver or any other digestive organs. The author of this post uses a golden rule – better eat less and drink more than eat “something”. When I learned to listen to my body and understand what it is trying to tell me, things became a lot easier. This brings me to another rule: healthy does not always means best for me at a given moment. If your body screams for a mug of hot chocolate and a piece of creamy nut cake – don’t torture yourself with salad. Go wild.

Set sleep as your top priority

sleeping dog

How come, that knowing all about the benefits of a good sleep we, moms, still procrastinate and hit the buttons of our smartphones instead of just diving into the world of Morpheus? How can we allow ourselves this forbidden luxury that eats us up, steals our beauty and youth and gives us absolutely nothing in return? (Why yes, it gives wrinkles if you wish). I am not talking about screaming babies, growling stomachs, husbands with a flu or other factors that cannot be ignored. This is about silly and unreasonable procrastination – an ugly habit, that takes away crucial hours of beauty sleep. The funny thing is, that children help mom avoiding this trap once she decides to fall asleep at the same time as they do. Children have this amazing gift of structuring moms’ (and dads’) time. You will not wait till midnight to put them to sleep, therefore, as a mom, you will be obliged to at least pretend you’re asleep, at around 9 p.m.. However, it only works for moms who directly participate in helping their child fall asleep (in my case, I still secretly enjoy it, as I am officially forced to relax).

Minimize communication with people who steal your energy

vampire-bat

Especially Even if they are family members. Yes.

This is a very important and largely underestimated rule. Every mom is different: some need attention, conversations and play dates with other moms and children (because it’s so boring to be with your child on the playground and watch her do things), others crave for silence. However, regardless of these differences, every mom knows exactly what type of other moms and people she should or should not interact with.

Annoying and preaching aunties family members, friends who ask for favors, other friends who constantly complain about life – all these should be kept away at a respectful distance at any cost (yes, there is price for everything, but isn’t your mental tranquility worth it?)

Managing mom’s relationships is a separate topic I will bring up later, while in this post – I only mention what’s based on my own experience: when mom needs a rest, the less people she interacts with, in general, the better.

And the last one, a friendly reminder: remember, that nothing lasts forever – neither the good, nor the bad.

This too shall pass

Persian Sufi poets

clock, time

Happy working mom. Does she exist?

“Working mothers are guinea pigs in a scientific experiment to show that sleep is not necessary to human life.”

— Anonymous, www.grinningplanet.com

A friend of mine, who didn’t have kids at that time yet, asked me a question long time ago: “How do moms manage to work and run the house with children at the same time? When I come home from work in the evening I’m exhausted to such an extent I can only breathe and cannot imagine myself doing anything else except lifting my phalanges lower limbs high into the air and stay still for at least 30 minutes. What about working parents? How do they manage?”

Back then I was working as a home-based freelancer with my first daughter who was almost 2 and I couldn’t tell her how it feels to come back from the office. Nevertheless, there are quite a lot people around me who are lucky to raise great kids and work full time far away from their bed and kitchen.

So yes, it’s a big and interesting question: how to manage the level of productivity, professional focus and concentration during the work day and then be an energetic and happy mom in the evening of the same day. And though I cannot give advice to parents who spend most of their lives in an office, I surely have been through the pain of keeping myself awake through romantic summer nights with deadlines I had to meet, and during noisy vacation days when I had to exploit my talents despite the crazy sounds coming from the kids’ room.

Here is how it works for me.

To make it simple I will divide the day into 4 parts:

morning – waking up and plugging into your source of energy
work day – squeezing creative juices without using too much caffeine
family time – spending happy time with kids and family (or leaving them and go for a nap without feeling guilty)
bed time – putting the little ones to sleep and enjoy a few quiet moments before collapsing to bed

The “good morning” stage: wake up time, make up time, meditation time:

As the joke goes: the most important is to get up. Will wake up later.

The way to keep yourself balanced through the day begins right from the moment you wake up. Your work conditions, work environment and your personal health – all play their role in the degree of your love or hate of the world by the end of the day.

Different things work well for different people. For example, do you hate waking up early and getting to the office by a certain hour? Then doing so will drain your energy and empty your source of inspiration before you even get to work. Something must be changed in that case. Of course, not all companies allow to work from home or arrive late, but you know the situation better to evaluate what can be done, how the schedule can be maneuvered to fit itself best to your nature.

Do one thing that makes you happy in the morning

Even if it means 30 minutes less sleep. A quiet cup of coffee (unless you have a talking coffee cup), a 10-minute meditation with some native American flute music, a short walk outside, breathing exercises, muffin baking, drumming – anything that helps you pass this sensitive time called “morning”. I strongly suggest doing it while the kids are still asleep (it works well with older kids who hate waking up anyway). There was a time when I finished a big muffin with two cups of instant coffee while reading jokes.
At other times I used to meditate and do soft stretching with gentle yoga music in the background. Both activities are completely different, but all is good as long as it serves the purpose: make me happy at this stage of my existence. Don’t try to do something “healthy” just for the sake of it. Better do something that might sound less perfect but does the job.

Now you are entering the 2nd stage – the work day

Experiment

with different working hours, different surroundings different lighting and even different placement of your laptop while working. (there were times when I discovered that sitting crooked straight at my home desk makes it so hard for my back that I was unable to concentrate. So either replace your chair, your back (huh?) or just move to the sofa.

Ignore myths 

night laptopThere are certain false truths that might stand in the way of great experimenting. One of the myths I was bound to is – “inspiration comes at night” or “nights are the best time to do creative jobs”. This is totally wrong. Muses come, muses go – sunshine is not their enemy. Night is, indeed, a great time to work but remember, that you have to wake up early the next morning (this is not a post about free artists who sleep during the day and work during the night). As a working night owl parent, straining your brain at night is a luxury you cannot afford anymore. So keep on experimenting.

There are other myths people might be telling you, or you might read somewhere that can keep you away from optimal work flow process.

Another example is: “I can do it all alone”. There are a lot you can do, but sometimes you need help of others so don’t feel abashed, confused or embarrassed to look for help from colleagues, friends or whoever you can. Don’t try everything before asking for professional advice. Don’t try pulling the carriage all alone but rather look where you can use knowledge of others and offer your help in return. Don’t be a lone wolf.
These are only two examples, but I’m sure there is a ton more. You can share your own in comments.

Say no to the perfect conditions

balance

That will never happen. If you are getting tired after the first 10 minutes of work that can mean two things: either it’s not your day (get more sleep, jump a little bit and roll on your back). Or – you hate your current task so much that you are exhausted from the inner fight or having to keep yourself chained to the damned working activity. If you hate it but cannot drop it at this very moment (a client is waiting for your report, article etc.) stop the work for a few minutes and meditate – think of the whole situation it as a life exam (that will not last long for various reasons), imagine yourself doing your best and finishing it.

Now it is the third phase of the day called “family time”

bear mom
There is a joke: “do you also call the day when you clean, cook and tidy up – your day off?”

Family-time is when your kids get back from schools-kindergartens-nurseries-playgrounds. It’s not necessarily evening and you’re not necessarily ready for the switch from “serious” brain work to the “light” brain work (playing, jumping, talking, soothing, controlling etc.). Here are some tricks I use to guarantee soft landing from “work” to “home”:

Take them out

Even if for 30 minutes. Usually, kids don’t get enough time being outside while at schools/kindergartens anyway. You surely don’t get enough fresh air (unless your office is in a tree house) as well. So you all need this refreshing time to spread away the remains of the work/school energy that is left there. There is almost nothing better than gaining powers in the fresh air.

Or keep them busy

chess

with anything at home while you are regenerating. Give yourself some time alone, even if it means letting them watch a 15-minute cartoon, a 10-minute TV show or showing them a game they can play without adult supervision. This should be really short, just for you to shake off the work mood. (There are cases, though, when I am too exhausted to spend quality time with anything except my pillow. Then, the 15-minute playtime turns into 40-minute cartoons/games/TV shows while I regain my energy in another room. Don’t pretend to be cheerful and energetic when all you need is a good nap).

Read to them

bookshelf

Reading out loud is something most kids like, and most moms don’t find too hard to do. Dining time, for example, is a great time for storytelling. What is so good about reading out loud? First, it’s a good way for a mom to get relaxed. You don’t even have to make up stories but read the written text. Second, it’s a good way for the kids to learn something (therapy fairy tales or fables) and be with their mom at the same time. I, personally, find reading out loud a great opportunity to teach my kids something, to communicate with them (they ask questions, I explain) and to enjoy a homely atmosphere. 

At this point, when the 4th phase arrives (and your partner arrives from work as well) it’s time to turn the active part of the day off. Putting them to bed is a separate topic we’ll discuss later. Good night, meanwhile.