Once we have children everything changes. We have the responsibility of another life which brings a whole heap of work. We live in a strange 24 hour world of demands, where we work harder than ever before but often find it challenging to say what we have actually done.
As mothers we work harder than ever before but find it hard to say what we have actually done Click To Tweet
Frustratingly, it can feel like we never complete anything. The housework, washings and cooking is never over because as soon as we finish, it just needs to be done again.
Likewise, parenting itself is never completed. In fact, with parenting there are very few specific goals that can be attained. Caring and nurturing our children is a constant with no actual targets other than to do the best we can.
It is well known that humans don’t operate that well when we have lots of tasks on the go. Our brains don’t file away jobs that are part completed. Multiply each unfinished task by the 101 things that most of us are doing and our poor old minds get pretty fogged up. Ring any bells?
Ongoing work also doesn’t suit us as we don’t get that much needed sense of satisfaction and achievement from completing something. Sounds like life with children to me.
Many of us feel a job is well done once it is completed and this can be a real issue once we become mothers where nothing ever gets finished. So with all that in mind, here are five tips to help with that ‘never completing anything’ feeling.
1. Reassess what ‘needs’ to be done
We often believe there are things we ‘need’ to do. But, really questioning these assumptions can significantly ease the pressure we feel.
Most of us struggle to maintain the standards we had before we have children. But by being very careful about what we categorise as ‘need to complete’ tasks, helps us by removing the pressure to have things as they were before.
For example, I had to learn that having the kitchen in a good enough state that I could go in and cook the next meal was a ‘need to’. But having a tidy house was not a ‘need to’ task because I could manage without it.
Acknowledging that some things will never truly be completed as they were before we had kids, helps us drop them from the eternal list in our minds.
2. Prioritise your needs
Don’t forget to prioritise your own needs. They are as important as the chores and funnily enough when we have done something for ourselves we often have more energy for everything else we need to do.
When we have babies and young children and the day is spent just doing the urgent here and now things of feeding, nappy changing and rocking, then the priority might be to sleep in any spare time.
But with time that changes and other things can be undertaken. For me, when my son started sleeping more consistently through the night, I allotted ten minutes to write during his nap so that I could achieve something for I wanted.
3. Every so often write a “Have done’ list
One great thing to occasionally do when we begin to feel that we are getting nothing done is to write a ‘Have done’ list. As you go through the day write all the things you do, no matter how small. It is a bit of a pain but it is amazing in the evening to see how much is on there. I guarantee that any mother will use multiple sheets of paper.
4. Write your own appraisal
This sounds a bit crazy but stopping to asses what we do by writing our own appraisal is a great way to help us see what we actually achieve over a period of time.
Don’t forget to include the hundreds of out of hours jobs you do without complaining (well, mostly without complaining), the disturbed nights and the utter dedication that we all have for our kids. Any employer would be bowled over if we applied the dedication to a job that we do for our children without even thinking.
5. Know that it is not easy
Babies and young children can’t be scheduled or put on hold, until our to do list is looking less packed and we feel satisfied. Realising that parenting is actually pretty out of step with how we best operate, helps.
Caring for a baby is truly endless. The work in progress is everywhere, under our feet, in our wash baskets, at the bottom of the stairs and in our arms. But that is how it is for everyone and one thing that is guaranteed is that it will change. Slowly at first but then one day we get to look back and remember how life has altered, realising we do have time to get on top of things every now and then.
I would love to hear from you about any thing you did to help you with that feeling of never getting anything done.
So what is next?
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