It was just another hot summer day in Las Vegas. My four-year-old and I were trying to stay away from the dry heat indoor playground.
He was having fun. He slid in a ball pit and was trying to juggle three plastic balls but was not able to and got upset about it.
I had no idea how to juggle either, but my brain figured out a process, and I told him to follow these directions if he wanted to learn to juggle:
First, just practice how to throw and catch a ball with your right hand.
Once you have perfected that, practice how to throw and catch a ball with your left hand.
Now just throw the ball from left to right and try to catch it.
Once you have perfected this, throw the ball from right to left.
Now you can try juggling two balls.
Once you got this, try juggling three at a time.
I told him, “You need to perfect each step before you move on to the other.”
As a typical four-year-old, he decided to follow these instructions for a moment and then moved on to another game.
I, on the other hand, got really into it and started practicing my throws while my boy was running around. While practicing, I started thinking. How can we apply the art of juggling to mommy overwhelm?
As a mother, I want to be able to do everything I want for my family and me. I want to be able to prep food for the week, so I spend less time in the kitchen and more time doing meaningful things with my family. I want to make yummy homemade food for my kids that they will love. I want to potty train my younger child this month. I want him to stop taking bottles and move to a sippy cup. I want to sleep train both of them. I want to start doing more activities with the kids when I come home from work. I want to exercise more, eat better and lose weight. I want to be able to spend some time daily working on my blog. I want to learn how to use my sewing machine that has been sitting in the box since last Christmas. I always want to know where the socks are. I want the laundry to be done and folded on Fridays, so I have some free weekend time. Sometimes, I want just to relax and do nothing. I want to read more books. Yes, more books!
Well, that day, just thinking of all these things that I wanted to do made me feel so breathless and overwhelmed. But if I decided to apply the principle of perfecting juggling to my daily life, maybe I would succeed.
What If I decided to focus on just one thing at a time, perfect it and then add next one to the mix?
I took this to heart and in the month of May, I decided to focus on food prepping and followed simple steps like below:
Read about food prepping.
Get a plan ready for shopping.
Go grocery shopping.
Repeat these steps above for the next four weeks until comfortable.
In this month, since my focus was on food prepping, I did not beat myself up for not being able to tackle other issues. There would be times when I would become impatient and wanted to try perfecting everything at the same time but I kept reminding myself, “just focus one thing at a time” to perfect the art of juggling.
I observed that focusing on food prepping saved me time every week. When I learned this, I decided to keep prepping food and add a new step to the mix. Exercise! Since I was prepping food I saved some time daily and was able to get 25 to 30 mins of exercise time.
They say it takes 21 days to get in a habit (I had 31 days to prove I could do this!). I followed steps below to get into the exercise routine:
Set up an alarm to remind me to exercise.
Put on an exercise DVD that I liked and follow it for 25 minutes.
Now by the end of June, I was juggling exercise and food prepping along with my daily routine. I had perfected two things in two months. In August, it was time to add another task to the mix. Since I was already prepping food and exercising, I was getting fit in was eating healthy. So I decided to look for healthier recipes to plan for and then followed the same routine as June for food prepping.
By the end of July, I was prepping food, eating healthy and exercising. I had tackled something that I had not addressed in months. Before this, I would just keep thinking how I was to do all these things on my wishlist together at the same time. I would cry with overwhelm and then just do nothing about it and be sad and even angry at myself because of my inability to do everything.
Focusing on one thing at a time has made me juggle things better. I am happier with myself. I know I’ve got this. I am ready to potty train my 2.5-year-old this month and I know I will not worry about learning my sewing machine anymore. Next month, I will have that under my belt.
As mothers, we are juggling with so many things, and we want to be perfect at everything. But then, we get overwhelmed because of feeling guilty that we are not good enough at anything.
Maybe motherhood is about tackling one thing at a time. We cannot keep worrying about being perfect at everything, every single day, all at once. Maybe we should focus on one thing every month.
Author: Sneha Jhanb
Image: Gabriel Rojas Hruska/Flickr
Editor: Katarina Tavčar