If you’re feeling like you’re barely surviving right now, you’re not alone. Most of my clients and the women I speak with daily feel this way year round, but then the holidays roll around and it’s exhaustion on steroids. There’s just so much to do and not enough time to do it.
But a few years back after I had my fourth child, I discovered a concept that I had never been aware of before, at least on a conscious level:
Sure, I’d heard the term thrown around here and there, but it had never even dawned on me to attempt it in my life as a mom. After all, I had just assumed that surviving my days was the best I could expect and if anything was leftover for me, then great.
(Spoiler alert: There was never anything left over, guys.)
The thought was spurred when I was listening to Ariana Huffington speak in an interview about how she had worked herself into such a state that she ended up waking up in a pool of her own blood, collapsed from exhaustion. She had been surviving her days, focused solely on how much work she could pack into one day, and neglected herself and her staff.
This experience made her realize that she was not being proactive about her own wellness and health, and not only that, was not producing the best results she could because she was operating from such a state of exhaustion.
She was speaking about running her media company, but I thought it was applicable to motherhood as well.
The responsibilities that fall into our laps during new motherhood are sometimes so great that they are almost laughable. I remember being in a grocery store with my three young kids once – one was grabbing things off shelves and putting them in the basket that I didn’t want, one was throwing a temper tantrum in the seat of the cart, and the third was walking beside me and lifting up my skirt for the world to see. I remember bawling my eyes out the whole way home while simultaneously bursting into laughter at how ridiculous the whole motherhood gig was.
But here is the inescapable truth – it IS hard, but it is ours. And if we think that we’re going to handle these responsibilities best with a “survivalist” mindset, we’re going to end up face down on the floor wondering what happened.
I know that it seems impossible to think of adding in any type of self-care, but that’s because you’re probably thinking a) it has to take tons of time and b) it will take away from your family/work instead of giving to it.
Remember: this is NOT another thing to feel guilty about. Do not read one more word of this article and feel bad about what you have not done up until now. Most of us default to survival mode because we don’t know any better!
With the right energy management, you can CREATE energy for yourself for your life rather than take away from it. The secret is to invest time and focus into the things that give you the HIGHEST return of energy in the least amount of time. And then, instead of those things falling to the wayside each day, the things that actually drain your energy will be expendable instead.
Here is exactly how to do that:
Step 1: Make Lists
Make a list of non-mandatory tasks you perform each day and also some self-care tasks that you may or may not already be doing. Your list may look like this:
- Check emails
- Fold laundry
- Grocery shop
- Prepare healthy food
- Check social media
- Clean the house
- Pick up lunch
You can be as detailed as you’d like.
Step 2: Time Inventory
Write down how long, on average, each of these tasks takes you daily.
Step 3: Rate energy drain or return.
On a scale of 1-10, 1 = drains tons of energy and 10 = creates the most energy, rate each item on the list. Remember to think big picture: while something like exercise may drain your energy temporarily, it may GIVE you more energy exponentially the rest of the day/week.
Step 4: Compare and re-prioritize
Now you’re going to create a brand new list. The things with the HIGHEST energy score that take the LEAST amount of time go at the top, followed by the highest scores that take more time, etc. The items with the LOWEST energy score (draining) that take the MOST time go at the bottom.
And this is your new priority list.
Now that you have this list, make a deal with yourself that NOTHING lower on the list happens before the things highest on the list are done.
So if your new list looks like this:
- Healthy food prepped or eaten
- Read 10 pages
- Clean up
- Grocery Shop
- Check emails
…then checking emails does not happen before everything higher up has been checked off the list for the day.
What does this accomplish?
You’re now investing your time and your focus on the big dial movers that actually make you feel BETTER and have MORE energy instead of getting zapped of it right off the bat. Now, when you’re in the grocery store with your three little ones who are throwing things in your basket or just throwing tantrums, you’ll be better able to handle it. You won’t already be at the end of your rope. You’ll feel more clear, calm, and focused.
Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect – think in terms of spectrums. You don’t have to workout for hours – taking 5 minutes to stretch is better than doing nothing at all, or you could do a short but intense HIIT workout like we do in #FastFitMoms. A breakfast with a little protein is better than no breakfast at all.
I would love to hear how your priority lists change when you re-structure them in this way, hit reply and let me know!